Photo/IllutrationA dish that includes types of wakame seaweed (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Time to fill up on the seaweed.

Whether your taste leans toward “wakame” or kelp, new research indicates eating it more often could reduce your chances of developing ischemic heart disease, such as a myocardial infarction.

The finding by research teams from the National Cancer Center and the University of Tsukuba was published on the online American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The researchers monitored the diets of about 86,000 people for 20 years, beginning in the 1990s and found that fibers and proteins in seaweed appeared to positively influence their health.

The study followed men and women between the ages of 40 to 69 who were living in nine prefectures, including Iwate and Okinawa.

Study subjects were asked how often they ate seaweed: “almost never,” “once or twice a week,” “three or four times a week” or “almost every day.” They were not asked how much they ate.

In the 20 years the study lasted, 1,204 participants developed ischemic heart disease.

They concluded that both male and female test subjects lowered their risk of ischemic heart disease by consuming seaweed more frequently.

The researchers did not include influences of participants' habits or other foods in their analysis of the results.

Men who ate seaweed almost every day had a 0.8 times lower risk of ischemic heart disease than those who seldom ate it. Women's risk of the disease was 0.6 times.

Results of studies done on animals have reported that fiber in seaweed improved lipid metabolism and proteins lowered blood pressure.

“We found out that even for humans, seaweed lowers the risk of getting ischemic heart disease,” said research group member Kazumasa Yamagishi, a professor at the University of Tsukuba specializing in public health. “Further research might help prevent people from getting lifestyle-related diseases.”