Also known simply as agar or agarose, agar-agar is a gelatinous compound extracted from various red algae. Its use is believed to be ancient and it was discovered in Japan in 1658. Today, however, it is a substance used worldwide, and has gained much importance, especially in vegetarian and vegan cuisine (replacing animal gelatin) in many preparations.
The name agar means gelatin; but with properties quite different from the commonly found gelatins, agar-agar stands out for its innumerable health benefits and, moreover, for its versatility and ease of incorporation into foods.
Agar-agar contains 94.8 and soluble fiber. “Thus, its consumption helps to regulate the functioning of the intestine; in addition to providing satiety (with little amount consumed) … All this practically without calories”
But the benefits don’t stop there! Below, you will learn a little more about this product and learn how to use it in everyday life, in delicious recipes!
Benefits of agar-agar
A nutritionist highlights the main benefits of agar-agar:
Regulates bowel function, preventing bowel entrapment and infections ;
Acts as a good detoxifier;
Increases skin elasticity, which helps prevent wrinkles and acne;
Helps with weight loss and appetite control.
In addition, it is worth remembering that agar-agar can be used in many recipes – especially in vegetarian recipes – and that it contains few calories.
Agar-agar X common gelatin
There are several differences between these two products. Starting with the fact that common gelatin is of animal origin, while agar is of vegetable origin.
The nutritionist explains that agar-agar has, for example, a higher gelling power (it is about three times stronger) than ordinary gelatin and offers a firmer preparation. For example, in a recipe where 10 grams of gelatin would be needed, about 3.4 grams of agar would be required.
She also highlights the benefits of agar-agar over regular gelatin:
It helps with weight loss;
It does not alter the taste of food and can be used in both sweet and savory recipes;
It is much more cost-effective (better cost-benefit ratio);
It does not melt at room temperature;
It is composed almost entirely of fiber;
It is a product without coloring, chemical additives, sugars or sweeteners.
Although the quantities and the method of preparation are different (between agar-agar and common gelatin), the results are very similar, agar having only a more resistant consistency.
How to use agar-agar?
The nutritionist explains that agar-agar can be found in different forms such as powder, flakes or bar. The difference is only in the form of preparation; powdered agar is the easiest to use and the most used to replace ordinary gelatin.
Orientation: 4g of agar powder is roughly equivalent to 12g of unflavored gelatin powder.
If the idea is to make “agar-agar gelatin”, the ingredients needed are: 1 cup of natural fruit juice and 1 teaspoon of agar-agar powder. Then simply put the juice and powder in a saucepan, turn on the heat and stir. When it boils, wait for it to cool and that’s it. It is not necessary to put it in the refrigerator.
The indication is generally to consume the capsule 30 minutes before the main meals, with a glass of water. Thus, the idea is that it helps control satiety (and, therefore, weight loss).
The concentration of agar will depend on the needs of each patient and the stage they are at in the process of dietary rehabilitation. It can even make up herbal capsules, which increases the benefits offered to the body.
She explains that this tea provides a feeling of satiety, as the fiber will form “a gel” when consumed. To prepare:
Dissolve 1 teaspoon of agar-agar in a glass with hot water. After that, you can consume the tea.
10 agar-agar recipes to try at home
Discover great ideas on how to incorporate agar into your diet, whether you are a vegetarian or not:
- Macadamia cheese: a delicious “cheese” option for intolerants, vegans and/or healthy living advocates. It’s a chopped cheese that can be served cold, but also melts when heated.
- Zucchini: a different and easy to make “vegetable cheese”. In addition to zucchini and agar, you will need coconut oil, lemon, nutmeg, salt and spices to taste.
- Romeo and Juliet custard: a vegan, gluten-free, lactose-free and protein-free recipe. The texture is very good, firm enough to make the dessert look nice and with a creamy, cheesecake-like consistency.
- Fruit terrines: made with agar-agar, are a great vegan option for those who do not want to leave the dessert and still want to leave everything healthier with lots of fruit. Not to mention that the result is a beautiful dessert!
- Apple and red bell pepper jelly: a healthy option to pass bread, toast, tapioca, cookies. The best properties of this recipe are thermogenic and anti-inflammatory effects. Tips for a pre-training snack!
- Hibiscus jelly: a light recipe, with little sugar and, the best part, it’s delicious! All you’ll need is dry hibiscus, agar-agar, cinnamon and cloves.
- White chocolate mousse: the use of gelatin in desserts is very common and, most of the time, necessary. But for vegetarians, agar-agar is the best substitute in these cases! In this delicious recipe, it guarantees the perfect consistency for the dessert.
- Guava mousse: a vegan version of this well-known dessert. In addition to agar, you will use soy milk, chopped guava, lemon, soy milk cream, water and sugar.
- Passion fruit caviar: you will only need agar, passion fruit flavored liquid, olive oil or oil with sweet and cold taste. You can use concentrated passion fruit juice (from a small bottle), putting less water, and you can sweeten it, if you consider it necessary.
- Sweetened pineapple: a delicious and refreshing dessert. In addition to agar and pineapple, you will use water, granulated sugar, coconut milk or cream of soy milk. This is a vegan and gluten-free recipe.
It is worth remembering that those who wish to consume agar-agar with the idea of losing weight should bet on healthy recipes (which do not contain sugar, for example, among other ingredients).
Agar-agar and slimming
Agar-agar can be an ally in the weight loss process. By consuming it, improvements occur in the functioning of the intestine (thanks to the fiber) and in the absorption of nutrients. Weight reduction may be due to the satiety that this type of “gelatin” provides, improves the appearance of the skin and the product contains few calories. But beware: its fibers can have a laxative effect.
So now you know: versatile, agar-agar is a great option for those who want to lose weight, replace animal gelatin or simply have a healthier diet!