What Is Agar?

Many recipes call for agar-agar or agar. What is it and why we need it for cooking? It is a plant-based substitute for gelatin. Let’s learn more about agar uses.

Agar is produced from red algae or seaweed grown in the Pacific Ocean or in the White Sea.

What is agar and its uses

Initially, it was the idea of the Japanese who traditionally make algae jelly. Then they began to evaporate the jelly to get a powder. This powder is agar.

Thanks to agar’s good jellifying properties, it can be used for making so many dishes from aspic, jelly, and marmalade to ice-cream.

Agar is even more efficient at high temperatures. In supermarkets, you can find two types of agar: white with yellowish or greyish and yellow. The former is better.

It is more convenient to work with agar than with gelatin and more importantly, agar has zero calories and many nutrients. For this reason, agar is preferable to gelatin for cooking tasty and useful desserts.

Agar benefits

Agar is a source of many trace elements and vitamins but it is a low-calorie food. Eighty percent of agar is polysaccharides, including agarose, agaropectin, pentose etc. More than that, agar is rich in pyruvic and glucuronic acids beneficial for human health.  

Agar contains fiber due to which we feel full faster. Fiber also helps to reduce the concentration of fats in foods.

In our stomach, agar converts to gel and absorbs some fats reducing cholesterol. Algae extract is rich in iodine which is essential for normal thyroid gland function.

However, be aware that agar enhances bowel motility and has a laxative action. On the other hand, due to its action agar eliminates toxic metabolic wastes.

If you want to lose weight, add agar to soups, aspic, and other dishes. You should only remember that if you have some intestinal disorders, you may have indigestion. Taking agar with some medications, you may have an allergic reaction. So it is recommended to consult your doctor first. 

As you can see, agar is absolutely safe and you can buy foods containing agar and add it to your dishes without worries.

Agar is used as an additive in many foods under the name E406.