It may be one of the more unlikely food crazes of recent times, but agar-agar (the flavorless, seaweed-based thickener used in soups and jellies) is hip—at least in Japan, where it is known as kanten. The reason? It has no calories, is rich in dietary fiber and fills you up quickly, so that you're inclined to eat less. That makes it a perfect fit for today's slimming-obsessed consumer.
"Kanten is filled with soluble fiber ... and significantly slows down digestion," explains Jacqueline Marcus, associate professor of culinary nutrition at Kendall College, Chicago. All of a sudden, Japanese magazines...
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