If you’re searching for a method to raise your protein consumption and add vital minerals to your diets, like the elusive B12 and iron, there’s a new (or very ancient, depending on how you look at it) superfood that may help.
Duckweed is a small aquatic plant that offers some of the highest nutritional content of any plant food and is a complete protein having all nine necessary amino acids, whether you’re following a plant-based diet or just wanting to be healthy.
Duckweed got its name because it thrives in ponds and still water and may overproduce to excess, providing it a sustainable source of plant-based “clean” protein and minerals.
But does it have a pondweed flavor? Here’s the information on duckweed’s health advantages, as well as our thoughts after a week of experimenting with it.
What is duckweed?
Duckweed is the popular name for the aquatic plant Wolffia globose, a small (less than 1/64 of an inch) pond plant that grows on the water’s surface and is used by animals and people all over the globe as a source of protein. Duckweed is the only plant source of complete protein (all nine necessary amino acids), iron, vitamin B12, and other critical elements for humans.
Due to its high protein content, duckweed has been eaten in Southeast Asia for hundreds of years and is known as “vegetable meatball” (over 45 percent of its dry matter).
Hinman, an Israeli firm, has turned this little super green into a frozen product for the consumer market and owns the Mankai strain exclusively. In addition to its health advantages, Mankai duckweed has a low environmental impact, since it is grown in a hydroponic method that doubles the plant’s bulk every 72 hours while requiring very little water and light.
Duckweed is a sustainable protein source since it can be cultivated and collected all year. Protein derived from animals, on the other hand, necessitates massive quantities of natural resources and emits more greenhouse emissions than other modes of transportation combined.
What are the health benefits of duckweed?
Duckweed has several health advantages, including the fact that studies have shown that it is a healthy source of protein and other nutrients, rather than merely a nuisance pond plant that clogs drains. Here’s why duckweed is good for you and why it’s a good supplement to a primarily plant-based diet.
It contains vitamin B12:
Plant-based sources of vitamin B12 are uncommon, but a study published in the journal Nutrients in 2020 found that Mankai is one among them. Mankai boosted blood B12 levels higher than soft cheese, according to another research.
However, before a plant-based meal can be considered adequate in vitamin B12, it must show that it can repair a shortage, which will need additional research.
As a result, having Mankai in your daily diet may give part of this important component, but if you follow a completely plant-based diet, you need still to take a B12 supplement.
It contains the same amount of protein as eggs:
Quinoa, for example, is a ‘complete protein,’ meaning it contains all of the amino acids our bodies need to produce protein. When it comes to protein, it’s not only about the grams but also about the amino profile. Mankai may now be included in the list of plant foods that are complete proteins in the same way as animal protein is.
According to studies, Mankai includes all nine essential amino acids—the ones we need from food—in a ratio comparable to eggs. It also offers the same amount of protein as soft cheese and green peas, according to another research. Mankai provides ten percent (five grams) of the daily protein requirement in one serving (three frozen cubes).
When you combine the Mankai cubes with other protein-rich products like nut milk, hemp hearts, or seeds in your smoothie, you may meet a significant portion of your daily protein needs before breakfast.
Duckweed is good for your heart, liver, and waistline:
Although we already know that the Mediterranean diet is healthy, new research discovered that adding more vegetables and eliminating animal protein makes the “Green Mediterranean” diet even healthier.
In a randomized controlled trial published in the journal Heart in 2020, researchers discovered that a ‘green’ version of the Mediterranean diet that included Mankai duckweed, green tea, and walnuts (along with significantly less animal protein) reduced waist size and cholesterol, both of which are risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Another research indicated that when compared to other healthy diets, the Green Mediterranean diet increased fat reduction in the liver and reduced non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
Duckweed aids with blood sugar regulation.
Duckweed, which is strong in fiber, may help manage blood sugar, which can help us maintain a healthy weight by balancing energy levels and lowering insulin reactions. According to research published in Diabetes Care, a duckweed shake had superior insulin and blood sugar effects than a yogurt-based drink. When obese individuals drank a duckweed drink instead of a balanced protein and carbohydrate yogurt shake for dinner, they felt fuller and had a lower blood sugar response the next morning.
Duckweed is a nutrient-dense plant.
Duckweed has a variety of nutrients that are useful to one’s health. Duckweed, for example, was shown to help maintain iron levels in the body and reverse anemia in lab animals in research on iron levels and anemia.
When compared to several other popular superfoods, the nutrient profile of the Mankai brand of duckweed offered to customers is as follows:
- Contains the same amount of iron as six cups of spinach
- 12 asparagus or one cup of beets provide the same amount of folic acid.
- One cup of red pepper has the same amount of vitamin A.
- One cup of cooked quinoa has the same amount of zinc.
- Spirulina has ten times the omega-3 content per gram.
- It increases antioxidants and beneficial microorganisms in the intestines.
Duckweed is a good source of these potent plant components, and we know that a plant-based diet provides us with an assortment of useful antioxidants to help fight free radicals and illness.
Researchers discovered that Mankai duckweed has roughly 200 antioxidant chemicals that may assist to enhance beneficial gut flora as part of the Green Mediterranean Diet study. The researchers think that the two-way link between the polyphenol chemicals in Mankai and the gut flora may have a role in the weight-loss and health-promoting benefits.
What Is the Best Way to Eat Mankai?
Mankai is traditionally used in curries, salads, and omelets. Mankai powder or frozen cubes are now available in the United States, where we have a strong need for on-the-go solutions. They may be easily added to smoothies, shakes, soups, and more.
Some readers may be horrified, imagining what powdered pond weeds may taste like in their morning shake. Anyone who has choked on a kale smoothie should take heart. Mankai has a flavor similar to…nothing. For a plant, it’s about as neutral as you can get. Broccoli casserole, frittata, green curry, even pancakes or biscuits—you can use it in almost anything if you don’t mind it becoming green.
Mankai for Vegetarians, Vegans, and Plant-Based Diet Followers
Mankai is one of the world’s smallest vegetables (one-sixty-fourth of an inch in length), yet it packs a punch in terms of nutrients. According to a Manaki maker, one serving of Mankai has 5 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, 15% of your daily B12, a staggering 45 percent of your daily iron, and other minerals such as choline and omega-3 fatty acids.
When a protein has all nine necessary amino acids that our bodies cannot make on their own, it is termed complete. Animal-based foods like eggs, fish, meat, and dairy are complete proteins, but plant-based foods, such as rice and beans, have variable profiles of these amino acids that must be mixed to achieve all necessary amino acids. Only a few plant-based complete proteins, such as soy, have gained honorable mention in traditional diets. Mankai has almost as much complete protein as an egg per serving, making it a possible new plant-based protein superstar.
Manakai is also high in iron and B12, two more minerals that plant-based consumers should be aware of.
First, there’s iron. When compared to the iron contained in animal-derived meals, the type of iron found in plants is considerably less readily absorbed by the body. According to research, non-heme (plant-based) iron absorption ranges from 1% to 15%.
The iron in Mankai, on the other hand, is highly bioavailable. At least one preliminary animal research suggests that supplementing a reduced-meat diet with Mankai may help prevent the iron loss, which might be advantageous for vegetarians, vegans, and persons with low iron levels who can’t handle or refuse to take iron supplements.
Then there’s B12. Because vitamin B12 is largely found in animal-derived foods, vegetarians (and especially vegans) are more likely to suffer from B12 deficiency. Other than supplements, fortified foods, certain fermented foods, and mushrooms are plant-based sources of vitamin B12. One of the most unique aspects of Mankai is that it provides a strong dose of plant-based B12 that looks to be extremely bioavailable.
Is Manaki the Right Choice for You?
What’s my takeaway after researching Mankai’s science and nutrition?
Mankai may qualify as a real superfood due to its rich nutritional profile, appropriateness for plant-based diets, prospective health advantages, sustainability, and more. Furthermore, as the Green Mediterranean diet indicates, no one superfood can replace a superdiet.
So, eat healthily first, and then choose your add-ons carefully. Mankai has earned a place of honor in my morning smoothie since I met this interesting newcomer. You won’t be able to taste it, but your body will be aware of its presence.
F.A.Q where to buy mankai duckweed