Monday, July 27, 2009

Hail to Hijiki

One of the great brown seaweeds (sea vegetables), hijiki is known as the bearer of beauty and health in Japan as it nourishes the hair and helps reduce dryness and split ends. They used to be popular in Japanese homes but they are now being used all over the world in various dishes. They are typically sold in pre-cooked form, which means you only need to soak them for seven to ten minutes.

I couldn’t stress enough the healing properties of hijiki and other sea vegetables but here are just some of their healing benefits:
  • Detoxifies body tissues
  • Strengthens the intestines
  • Purifies the blood
  • Strengthen bones and teeth
  • Prevents osteoporosis
  • Strengthens glands
  • Balances blood pressure
  • Aids weight loss
  • Eases menopausal symptoms
  • Treats gynecological disorders
  • Treats breast and uterine fibroids
  • Eases congestion
  • Treats goiter
  • Inhibits tumors
  • Eases testicular pain and swelling
  • Nourishes the hair, skin and nails; aid aged and wrinkled skin, aids hair loss.
  • Lubricates the intestines the promote elimination

High-Calcium Brown Rice (with Sesame Seeds and Hijiki)

They are also almost complete in essential nutrients but certain nutrients stand out:
  • Calcium. Highest in all of the sea vegetable. One tablespoon equals the calcium in one glass of milk. As a calming mineral, it has a soothing effect on the nervous system and benefits those suffering from periods of nervousness and anxiety.
  • Fiber. It cleanses the colon and lubricates the intestine.
  • Algin. It’s a heavy metal detoxifier although some experts say that we’re not supposed to eat hijiki because it contains arsenic. It also depends where it came from so buy from reputable suppliers.
  • Iron. Hijiki is best consumed with other vegetables that are high in vitamin C in order to fully absorbed this mineral.
They are also rich in protein (10-20%), iodine, phosphorus, potassium, niacin, phytohormones, and vitamins A, B and C and many other nutrients.

My jagged and imperfect omelet with hijiki, malunggay and Fontina cheese

Some uses of hijiki:
  • Simmer, steam, sauté or stir-fry with chicken, vegetables or noodles.
  • Add to salads, casseroles, stews, snack foods.
  • Cook with grains.
  • Chop fine and mix into burgers and meatloaf.
  • Use marinated or soaked and blended in dips and salad dressing.

Millet Patties (with carrots, hijiki, zucchini and Parmesan cheese)

Hijiki and Arsenic

There is a concern about hijiki containing certain amounts of arsenic. Well, let me relieve your fears: hijiki does contain naturally occurring arsenic. It’s a fact and it’s natural. But hijiki is also a good source of alginate or alginic acid which is a polysaccharide that helps bind and draw out any heavy metal toxins that are already stored in our bodies which lower the body’s burden in eliminating them. Alginic acid is also present in other brown sea vegetables such as wakame, kombu and arame.

My late-father loves to eat clams, raw oysters and mussels. But when he was diagnosed with cancer, I asked him to avoid it because of its arsenic content most especially oysters which are garbage eaters.

Soft Millet with Carrots and Hijiki

It is important to know that almost all food contains small amounts of toxic elements. Both good and bad elements are pulled out of the soil and become part of the plant. You cannot really avoid it because you get toxic elements in small amounts from your food, in your water, in the air you breathe (and the person beside you smoking), in your household products and in your amalgam fillings, etc. But God created living things (us and nature) with a great balance of essential elements. Have you ever wondered why the good elements (minerals) are needed in bigger amounts while the toxic elements are not needed at all and are actually harmless if we reduce our exposure to them?

To relieve more of your fears, here’s an article by Eden Foods about hijiki and arsenic.

Soaked Hijiki

If you’re still concern about hijiki’s arsenic content, here’s what you can do:
  • Soak hijiki. You can't use hijiki if you don't soak them but soaking removes some of it's strong odor and flavor.
  • Drain and rinse. Drain the hijiki through a strainer and rinse with water, soaking water out. Just throw the soaking liquid.
  • Consume hijiki in small amounts. You don’t need to consume something good in industrialized amounts even if it’s good for you. One tablespoon of soaked hijiki a day, 2-3 times a week is good enough. There are other sea vegetables that you can use. I don’t consume hijiki on a daily basis, sometimes even on a weekly basis except this past week. Even Japanese use them in small amounts as a little bit goes a long way.
  • Buy hijiki from a reputable source such as Eden Foods and Clearspring.
Enjoy eating hijiki.

Sources: Seaweed: Nature’s Secret to Balancing Your Metabolism, Fighting Disease and Revitalizing Body and Soul by Valerie Gennari Cooksley, RN; Healing with Whole Foods – Paul Pitchford; my notes


  1. I thought the omelete is almost perfect. It was just cut naturally. Great ways to use hijiki.

  2. Looks really delicious.

  3. That millet patties looked delicious.

  4. I have millet that I bought weeks ago and didn't know how to use it. The millet patties really look delicious. Thanks.

  5. I like seaweed too! But had never seen Hijiki before. Is it expensive??

  6. very informative, I never heard of hijiki until I read your entry

  7. They're a little bit on the expensive side most especially from reputable source but a little bit goes a long way. When I cook a cup of brown rice, I use about 1 tablespoon or less of hijiki. Mostly, I use less. They're concentrated in nutrients so we don't need that much. I buy mine form a Japanese store.

  8. Hi Divina Pe, RHN. I made sure to eat a muffin before I read your article...but it didn't work, my mouth still watered at the sight of your pictures! Thank you so much for a balanced, informative and professional review of a delicious food (which I haven't been able to resist eating regardless). I'm still waiting for the store I bought my hijiki from to respond to my third e mail.

  9. That is such a great idea--hijiki in an omelette! I would never have thought of doing that! But it makes sense--it made me think of tamago, combining egg and seaweed. =)

    Looks delicious!

  10. Thanks for this informative synopsis of health benefits, as well as for the creative recipes. One important note about toxicity in seaweed: avoid seaweed - and all other food - shipped from Japan since the nuclear meltdown, Better to get seaweed from another ocean entirely, to be frank, since the radioactive Cesium levels pose a serious health risk. Believe me now, read about it later... try to find seaweed harvested from the southern hemisphere, Atlantic ocean, North Sea, etc. Check out this article: I won't vouch for the veracity of the cited research, but the threat is for real and it's upon us and in us already. Better not to kill yourself with health foods.


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