Miyashita and colleagues theorize the compound fucoxanthin is primarily responsible for the food's beneficial effects. When laboratory rats and mice were fed wakame, it induced expression of the fat-burning protein known as UCP1. The protein builds up in fatty tissue around internal organs, and the study results suggested that when UCP1 expression is induced by fucoxanthin, it helps with the oxidation of fatty acids and production of heat energy in fat tissue mitochondria. Mitochondria are found in every cell and create energy from sugar and fatty acids, and regulate metabolism.
Wakame's anti-diabetes effect, the researchers hypothesize, is probably due to fucoxanthin's promotion of the synthesis of Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) -- a fatty acid that can be found in fish oil -- in the liver. When the animals were fed fucoxanthin and soybean oil, their DHA levels reached a level comparable to that achieved by fish oil supplementation, according to the researchers.
These results, combined with previous studies by Miyashita and colleagues that found fucoxanthin can kill prostate cancer cells in culture, lead the team to propose the compound could be a great preventative agent for many diseases.
Health advocate Mike Adams is a proponent of wakame for its health benefits, and recommends Modifilan.com as a source for brown seaweed, although he receives no money or kickbacks of any kind for promoting the company or its products. "The natural medicinal effects of this ocean plant are simply astounding," Adams said. "In addition to promoting weight loss and preventing prostate cancer, this plant can treat radiation sickness, improve body mineralization, support healthy thyroid function and even block the growth of breast cancer tumors."