Eat This Asian Snack to Lose Weight

Medically reviewed in September 2021

You know those pills that block fat absorption? There may be a natural snack that offers a similar benefit: toasted nori.

This crispy Japanese munchie -- made of thin sheets of seaweed that have been roasted or toasted and lightly salted -- could help your body block fat calories. In a new study, a special fiber found in seaweed appeared to inhibit fat absorption by over 75 percent!

Natural Fat-Blocker
The fat-blocking fiber in seaweed is called alginate. And in a recent lab study using an artificial gut, alginate interfered with a key enzyme responsible for breaking down dietary fat. The likely result in a real gut? The undigested fat would just pass right through and get expelled, which means fewer fat calories to use or store. Another small study using alginate-spiked drinks provides additional evidence of the fat-blocking effect. In that study, getting just 1.5 grams per day of alginate fiber caused a reduction in calorie intake over the course of a week. (Here's another way that extra fiber can help you lose weight.)

The Road to Alginate
More studies are needed before alginate can be recommended as a weight loss aid. But the research is a good reason to be more adventurous in your eating. Start enjoying dishes made out of -- or seasoned with -- edible seaweed and you'll get not only a fiber boost but also a healthy dose of calcium, iron, magnesium, and B vitamins. Toasted nori snacks -- available in many Asian markets -- are just one way to enjoy produce from the sea. You can also make soups or salads with wakame, a slightly sweet leafy sea vegetable. (Try this immune-boosting Asian soup.)

Ready to kick your weight loss efforts into high gear? First set a reachable goal.

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