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Agar — This algae-based jelly makes for great healthy desserts!

A Japanese innovation

Agar might not be that well known around the world, but in Japan we have been using it in our cooking and confectionery since it was first discovered way back in the Edo period (400 years ago).

Food companies keep improving the quality of the agar products they sell.

Derived from a red algae called Gelidium, agar traditionally came in stick form, but the more practical powdered version has been gaining popularity in recent years.

The fact that powdered agar is so easy to store and have to hand makes agar as popular with home cooks as it is with professionals.

Keep cholesterol at bay with dietary fiber

It might surprise you to hear that agar is more than 80% dietary fiber!

And the fiber in agar is particularly soluble and sticky, meaning that it travels slowly through the intestines where it promotes the growth of friendly intestinal bacteria (remember that healthy intestinal flora is key to preventing constipation!).

The fiber in agar also supports the excretion of bile acid, a broken down form of cholesterol, in turn helping to reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood.

Experiments have shown that people who ate agar every day saw dramatic reductions in their cholesterol levels.

A perfect diet food!

Although it has no flavor or odor of its own, agar is used to give a jelly-like texture to all kinds of dishes and desserts.

One clever agar-based product is a kind of savory vegetable jelly — a great way to get the goodness of agar without loading up on sugar.

Finally, agar keeps you fuller for longer, so it’s perfect if you are trying to lose weight!

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