If you regularly enjoy Japanese cuisine or if you just like eating healthy, you have probably already experienced at least one type of seaweed, if not more. The most popular and common seaweeds you come across in many Japanese dishes or soups are nori, wakame, and kombu. However, there is another type of seaweed that may not be as common in America but definitely makes a regular appearance at the dinner table in Japan.
It is hijiki, and the flavorful, versatile seaweed can be a part of many different dishes. Like other seaweeds, it is also very healthy, providing a number of health benefits and important nutrients.
What Is Hijiki?
When hijiki is first harvested from the waters along the coastlines of China, Japan, Korea, the seaweed ranges in color from dark green to brown, and resembles a fibrous clump. Before it is ready to be consumed, it undergoes a drying process. You must reconstitute dried hijiki in boiling water before cooking, but the process is fairly easy. The dried hijiki is black and appears as small buds somewhat similar to tea leaves.
For starters, hijiki is very high in dietary fiber, and also contains large amounts of essential vitamins and nutrients, including vitamin K, iron, calcium, iodine, and magnesium.
As many leafy green vegetables help to improve digestive health, so too does this marvelously healthy seaweed. The high presence of dietary fiber keeps your digestive process running smoothly. Because hijiki is also low in calories and high in fiber, it serves to keep cholesterol levels in check. Additionally, consuming it regularly helps to balance insulin and glucose levels.
And finally, the high presence of magnesium stimulates the production of specific hormones that help aid you in achieving a restful slumber. Eating a bit of them in the evening can help you settle into bed calmly and with a relaxed mind.
The Danger of Consuming Too Much Hijiki
As with anything, even healthy vegetables, too much can often cause harmful effects to the body. Hijiki is particularly concerning because, in addition to all the vitamins and nutrients, it also contains inorganic arsenic. So long as it is eaten in moderation, the arsenic levels you might consume are too minor to be of any consequence.
You can easily reconstitute the versatile seaweed with boiling water, ready for all sorts of dishes. You can use hijiki in soups and stews, stir-frys, fish dishes, in sauces, and even as a seasoning for salads. Its taste is rather mild, so it won’t overpower any other ingredients.