Mankai Duckweed: The Latest Superfood Trend

As a high-protein aquatic strain that sounds more like fiction than fact, it has many asking, “What is Mankai duckweed?” Find out all you need to know about Mankai duckweed here!

Mankai duckweed is making waves in the superfood world. As a high-protein aquatic strain that sounds more like fiction than fact, it has many asking, “What is Mankai duckweed?”

Plant-derived nutrients have caught the attention of experts and consumers alike in recent years by providing “superfood” sources of nutrients. Superfoods are foods thought to offer nutrition beyond normal levels, and duckweed benefits such as rich sources of protein and iron make it a superfood candidate. 

With limited human studies, researchers are still trying to find therapeutic duckweed uses and applications that harness the superfood power. To those in the functional food community, Mankai duckweed has already made a name for itself. 

Read on for everything you need to know about Mankai duckweed, including benefits, uses, and recipes.  

What Is Mankai Duckweed?

Duckweed has been ingested as food by humans for many years. However, it has not been until recently that the research world has taken a deep dive into learning about these green aquatic plants that come in various strains. One of the most popular strains is Mankai duckweed, known for its richness in iron, protein, and other nutrients. 

Mankai is a cultivated strain of the aquatic plant commonly known as duckweed. While it is one of the smallest flowering plants on earth, it has a huge potential for providing high-quality protein and nutrients. 

Duckweed already provides an important source of food for water creatures and fish by containing all nine essential acids and a protein profile similar to that of an egg. It is generally regarded as safe (GRAS), though studies are being conducted to confirm the exact benefits and uses of duckweed.

The Benefits of Duckweed

In a recent study, Mankai duckweed was able to preserve iron homeostasis in humans. In other words, this study suggested that duckweed was a food that helped to provide balance and health to the human body.  Other research also supports that the aquatic plant is an emerging alternative for non-meat protein and that it is capable of producing beneficial effects in terms of balancing blood sugar levels.  

Currently, the research may be limited but the existing science shows a bright future for Mankai duckweed. 

Here is the bottom line: So far, duckweed does not possess any detectable cell-damaging effects. It is assumed that duckweed provides high nutritional value, in addition to: 

  • Potentially being  a bioavailable source of vitamin B12
  • Containing many compounds recommended for human nutrition, including protein recommendations close to the World Health Organization (WHO)
  • Including fast growth times, small size, and simple growing conditions
  • Having easily digestible structure and being well-absorbed in humans 
  • Having optimized yield throughout the year 
  • Requiring a fraction of water for production compared to soy, kale, or spinach

While future strains may need to be genetically modified to harness their full potential, the Mankai duckweed of today still has many uses. A professional scientific forum on duckweed summarized their potential well by saying they are tiny plants with huge opportunities. 

Potential Uses of Duckweed

In Southeast Asia, duckweed has been eaten for centuries. It is known as a “vegetable meatball” because of its high level of protein and unique plant profile of vitamins and minerals. 

Dry Powders

Seeing as Mankai may provide a high- quality substitute for animal protein, it is available as a dry powder. Since mankai is easily integratable, odorless and tasteless, it is easy to see how duckweed could be introduced into almost any diet. In fact, Harvard School of Public Health has introduced Mankai smoothies to their cafeteria. 

From Farming to the Freezer

Duckweed can be used as compost and as green mulch in vegetable gardens or fruit orchards. As frozen Mankai enters the market, cubes of the frozen dry matter provide yet another use. 

Frozen cubes can offer a more shelf-stable, condensed source of nutrients that can easily be incorporated into smoothies, soups, and beyond.  

Alternative and Substitute Uses

Due to being a complete protein as well as free of many major allergens, one application that duckweed has is as an alternative to allergy-inducing ingredients. It is soy free, dairy free, gluten-free, and neutral in taste. It also provides vitamins, minerals, and low carbs while maintaining high protein status, which is a must-have for many on medically-recommended diet regimens for allergies or illness. 

Be sure to talk to a trained health professional before adding duckweed to the diet, especially because “superfood” duckweed products are relatively new and regulation of these products is not yet standardized. 

Duckweed Food Ideas

The duckweed goes by other names, such as the Asian Watermeal or the Water Lentil, and so it’s helpful to keep that in mind when searching for recipes and other information. Add it to the following drinks, recipes, and other dishes suggested below. 


  • Beverages
  • Sports drinks
  • Protein powder smoothies
  • Shakes
  • Smoothies 

Asian-Inspired Dishes

  • Salads
  • Omelets
  • Vegetable curries  
  • Sushi
  • Use as a garnish for chicken dishes (or other meat dishes)

Other Ideas for Mankai-Infused Food

More ideas for using Mankai include: 

  • Sweet potato hash with a side of eggs
  • Mankai quiche
  • Veggie burgers
  • Mankai pasta

Duckweed Recipes

Looking for more inspiration? Give these unique, step-by-step duckweed recipes a try!

Watermeal (Duckweed) Omelette

Adapted from Recipes Thai Food


  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup watermeal (duckweed)
  • 1 Tbsp Cooking oil
  • Seasoning sauce
  • Garlic, minced 


  1. Crack the eggs into a bowl and beat with a fork. 
  2. Heat the cooking oil and minced garlic in a frying pan. 
  3. When garlic is cooked, add beaten eggs, watermeal (duckweed), and sauce to preference. 
  4. Enjoy!

Mankai Pancake

By Eat Mankai


  • 7.8 oz all-purpose wheat flour
  • 6.3 oz greek yogurt
  • A pinch of kosher salt
  • 0.1 oz baking soda
  • 0.1 oz baking powder
  • 1 frozen Mankai cube
  • 0.4 oz granulated sugar
  • 4.9 oz fresh milk
  • 0.8 oz melted butter
  • 3.7 oz whole fresh eggs


  1. Mix well wheat flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and sugar 
  2. Add yogurt, Mankai, milk, butter and eggs
  3. Whisk until well blended and no lumps — approximately 3 minutes
  4. Heat a frying pan and fry using butter

Mankai Powder Pralines

By Eat Mankai


  • 10.65 oz white chocolate
  • 3.5 oz canola oil
  • 7.9 oz ground hazelnuts, pistachio, or coconut
  • 0.5 oz dry Mankai powder
  • 5.8 oz couverture chocolates


  1. Melt white chocolate in bain-marie blend in canola, oil and Mankai, ground nuts
  2. Pour into petit fours mold (half-sphere) and freeze until solidifies
  3. Take out from the freezer, join halves to a sphere shape, and coat with tempered couverture
  4. Roll in relevant powdered nuts or cocoa for the final shape if desired

From sustainably farming conditions to delicious duckweed recipe options, the possibilities of the Mankai are endless. It will be exciting to follow this superfood into the future.  


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Dazet T. Is Mankai Duckweed the Next Superfood?. Labroots. 2019.

Diotallevi C, Angeli A, Vrhovsek U, Gobbetti M, Shai I, Lapidot M, et al. Measuring phenolic compounds in Mankai: a novel polyphenol and amino rich plant protein source. 13th European Nutrition Conference (FENS). 2019.

Gurion B. Mankai duckweed plant found to offer health benefits. Science Daily, American Associates. 2019.

Kaplan A, Zelicha H, Tsaban G, et al. Protein bioavailability of Wolffia globosa duckweed, a novel aquatic plant – A randomized controlled trial. Clin Nutr. 2019;38(6):2576-2582. doi:10.1016/j.clnu.2018.12.009.

Sela I, Yaskolka Meir A, Brandis A, et al. Wolffia globosa-Mankai Plant-Based Protein Contains Bioactive Vitamin B12 and Is Well Absorbed in Humans. Nutrients. 2020;12(10):3067. doi:10.3390/nu12103067.

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Sree KS, Dahse HM, Chandran JN, Schneider B, Jahreis G, Appenroth KJ. Duckweed for Human Nutrition: No Cytotoxic and No Anti-Proliferative Effects on Human Cell Lines. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2019;74(2):223-224. doi:10.1007/s11130-019-00725-x.