Agar or Agar Agar is a gelling agent and food thickener obtained from red algae. It is white and semi-translucent in color. Food grade agar agar powder is used to make desserts such as jellies, puddings, souffles, and custards.
In Mexico, agar gelatin is used to make traditional melon shaped candies known as “Dulce de Agar”. It’s use as a dessert ingredient is common in Japan and Russia, but has recently become popular in the US as well.
Unlike common gelatin, agar powder is a 100% vegetarian product and has superior gelling qualities.
Agar agar is about 80% fiber and is also high in calcium, iron, and many vitamins. In Japan, agar agar is also used as a natural dietary supplement. Once ingested, the agar triples in size and absorbs water. This bulking quality creates a feeling of fullness, thus reducing the desire to overindulge. This method of dieting has shown much promise in obesity studies. Due to this, the “kanten diet” or “agar diet” is beginning to get press coverage in the US and elsewhere.