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New Israeli research reveals the nutritional benefits of the Mankai plant

The plant has been consumed for hundreds of years in Southeast Asia, where it is called "vegetable meatball" due to its high protein content - more than 45% of its dry matter. It contains a complete protein profile, similar to an egg, consisting of essential amino acids. In addition, mankai is rich in polyphenols, mainly phenolic acids and flavonoids, dietary fiber, minerals (including iron and zinc), vitamin A, vitamin B, and vitamin B12, which is rarely found in plant products

Mankai plant. Photo: Ben Gurion University Spokesperson
Mankai plant. Photo: Ben Gurion University Spokesperson

The search for plant-based alternatives to meat is bearing fruit. A team of researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev found that mankai, an aquatic plant high in protein, has significant potential as a superfood, which has a positive effect on balancing the sugar levels needed after consuming carbohydrates.

The plant has been consumed for hundreds of years in Southeast Asia, where it is called "vegetable meatball" due to its high protein content - more than 45% of its dry matter. It contains a complete protein profile, similar to an egg, consisting of essential amino acids. In addition, mankai is rich in polyphenols, mainly phenolic acids and flavonoids, dietary fiber, minerals (including iron and zinc), vitamin A, vitamin B, and vitamin B12, which is rarely found in plant products.

Hila Zelicha, a dietician and doctoral candidate in the public health department at the university, together with her colleagues, investigated the glycemic aspect of the mankai plant. The research findings were published these days in Diabetes Care, the official journal of the American Diabetes Association.

In the new study, the researchers compared the consumption of a mankai shake to the consumption of a yogurt shake. The two drinks were compared to each other in terms of the composition of carbohydrates, protein, fat and calories. After monitoring with glucose sensors, the participants who drank the mankai shake showed a significantly better response in a variety of measures of sugar levels, including: lower peak glucose levels, lower glucose levels upon awakening and faster glucose clearance. Participants also felt fuller. This study is part of a huge "Direct Plus" clinical trial that examines the effect of plant-derived polyphenols on the human body by examining body fat tissue, brain function, epigenetics and the microbiome.

The cultivation of the mankai plant, in Israel and in other countries of the world, is carried out in a closed and sustainable environment - it uses a tiny amount of water to produce protein compared to soy, kale or spinach plants. The possibility of growing it throughout the year through hydroponic cultivation is another advantage.

The research group, led by Prof. Iris Shay, a member of the Daniel Avraham Center for Health and Nutrition and the Department of Public Health at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, found in several previous studies that the mankai plant has tremendous health potential as a superfood.

The first study carried out this year by Alon Kaplan, a doctoral student in Prof. Shay's laboratory, found that the bioavailability of the amino acids from Mankai was similar to other foods (cheese and peas) with the same protein content. Also, the research findings suggest that mankai may be a unique plant source of vitamin 12B. These findings, which emphasize Mankai's being an excellent source of protein from the plant, were published in the journal Clinical Nutrition.

Another study conducted this year by the group of researchers by Anat Yaskolka Meir, a dietician and doctoral student in Prof. Shay's laboratory, found as part of the "Direct Plus" experiment that not only does the Mediterranean diet, which includes Mankai without red meat, not harm the iron levels, it also increases them and the levels of folic acid, substances that are required for the proper production of red blood cells. This study also found that treating rats with anemia due to iron deficiency using Mankai is as effective as conventional treatment. This study was published in the Journal of Nutrition.

Following the findings of the joint study with Harvard, the leading nutrition researchers there decided to launch the plant for consumption as a green protein smoothie in the cafeteria of the School of Public Health at Boston University.

Ben-Gurion University of the Negev researchers continue research on aquatic plants in international collaborations.

for the scientific article

15 תגובות

  1. Expecting the authors "Ben Gurion University" to find out what the scientific name of the plant is. Perhaps the authors are the spokespeople for the university and their goal is to raise funding for further research. Legitimate, but at least let them find out what kind of development it is. We have already understood that the commercial company has developed its own strain. And no, *anonymous* answers about which species are not acceptable

  2. אפריל 2022
    I looked for serious articles or studies that support the claims about the benefits of the Ankei plant, I can't find any. The only sites that refer to the plant are sites that sell it (advertising content) or sites of all kinds of natural medicine experts (who also have an interest in promoting the use of the plant, instead of, for example, medicines) and, of course, mention it on vegan/vegetarian sites. How is it possible that a search for a plant that is supposed to have so many good properties ("superfood"), does not bring many results with in-depth studies that support the claims about it? It is recommended for those who intend to trust what they have read/heard about the plant, to try to find a reliable source that confirms the claims

  3. I was looking for information about Mankai and I'm glad I found it here as well. This search of mine follows the miraculous results of the use of Menkai by a childhood friend of mine who suffers from juvenile diabetes and of course injects insulin, several times a day, as needed.
    Since he started using Mankai (only one cube a day in the shake he drinks) - the number of times a day he injects insulin per day has decreased significantly.
    The improvement in his condition began to show in the blood tests - which he takes several times a day - only four days later.
    Very impressive, so I hurried to call to order. I already received the tray with the frozen cubes.
    I will start using it tomorrow.
    So there is, and there is a real and noteworthy truth in the Mankai story.

  4. I searched for an hour for an article on the internet that tells about a serious academic study that examined the Mankai and indeed justifies the attributes attributed to it, but I was unable to find anything other than a study done at Ben-Gurion University, by the Israeli team and that is quoted on all the websites related to the Mankai. The study showed mediocre results in their effect on humans and slightly better on mice. But this is just a single study! Does the whole world rely on a vegetable on which only (probably) a single serious study was done?! I would not be in a hurry to define mankai as a "superfood" or a "meat substitute source for vitamin B12". It is recommended for those who intend to switch to using Mankai on a regular basis (especially vegetarians/vegans) to dig deeper and find out if there is something behind the enthusiasm, or if it is just a marketing campaign designed to sell a plant at an excessive price, as has been done many times in the past with other plants that have been defined as "superfoods" And it turned out after a while that there is nothing more special about them than other plants..

  5. Is it excessive to expect that in a scientific article on a scientific website the scientific name of the object on which the article was written will appear?

  6. Yehuda Sabradimish. Perhaps the reason is that this is an "article on behalf of" and therefore the full name is also missing, in any case the name of the plant is woliffia globosa Mankai

  7. to the gatekeeper. The name of the plant in Israel is Kadrorit (and not a tiny water lentil) from a species that probably does not exist in Israel, although the species that exists in Israel also contains a high percentage and is used for food in traditional societies.

  8. There is no doubt about the positive properties of the plant
    which is sold and eaten in large parts of the world
    Wherever people live near bodies of water,
    Because the plant is known for its ability to grow even in brackish water
    and duplicate its volume very quickly,
    a feature that made it a plant considered "invasive",
    The Hebrew name of the plant is
    A tiny water-lens…

  9. There is no doubt about the positive properties of the plant
    which is sold and eaten in large parts of the world
    Wherever people live near bodies of water,
    Because the plant is known for its ability to grow even in brackish water
    and duplicate its volume very quickly,
    a feature that made it a plant considered "invasive",
    The Hebrew name of the plant is
    A tiny water-lens…

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