Irish sea moss. You’ve seen it all over social media, and you can’t visit your local health food store without seeing it in some form. You’ve read the promises of the health benefits of adding Irish sea moss to your meals and drinks, and you’re wondering if it lives up to its hype. Finally, your interest is piqued, and you’re ready to learn more. Whether you’re a sea moss novice or an experienced #seamosslover, this article will cover everything you need to know about sea moss.
What Is Irish sea moss and where does it come from?
Great question! Irish sea moss (Chondrus Crispus for you science buffs) is a species of red, branching seaweed found on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in Britain, Europe, and North America. It grows year-round in tide pools and inlets.
Is it sea moss or Irish sea moss?
Chondrus is closely related to several other algae, and multiple different types of seaweed are colloquially known as Irish sea moss. There’s a story behind why so many different types of sea moss get called Irish sea moss that we’ll get into in a separate post, but just go with us on this one.
The Chondrus Crispus variant of Irish sea moss is all around the coast of Ireland and usually found in cooler waters. It only grows on rocks and has more of a flat fan shape.
Now, let’s compare that to the other type of popular seaweed, which is Gracilaria aka Jamaican sea moss aka Irish sea moss. This is sea moss sourced from Jamaica or other tropical locales. And yes, it’s also called Irish moss in passing, but it is not the same as Chondrus. Most likely, it comes from a closely related genus called Gracilaria.
Gracilaria is a genus of 190 species of sea moss that was established in 1830. It sprawls around the globe in many places and climates, comprising 80% of the worldwide market. Gracilaria looks more like thick, stringy noodles and is usually found in sunnier climates.
Both Chondrus Crispus and Gracilaria offer many benefits, so it’s smart to choose your “Irish sea moss” based on which of the two works best for your body.
How is Irish sea moss sourced?
Sea moss can be harvested in the wild, or it can be farmed. Wild is naturally occurring, while farmed sea moss is cultivated under controlled conditions. It’s important to note that farmed sea moss doesn’t equate to being harmful or devoid of nutrients. It just means man got involved in the process somewhere along the line (just as planting your own seeds for a backyard garden is farmed produce, right?).
There are multiple ways farmed sea moss is raised: Pool Farmed sea moss and Ocean Farmed Sea Moss are different. Pool-grown sea moss and ocean-farmed sea moss are both grown on ropes, but as you could imagine ocean-farmed sea moss is harvested in the wild and retains more nutrients than sea moss grown in a pool.
What Are The Health Benefits Of Sea Moss?
For centuries, sea moss has been used as a traditional remedy for a variety of ailments. Recently, sea moss has been gaining popularity as a superfood due to its vegan and gluten-free composition, as well as its many health benefits.
It’s Nutrient Rich
Sea moss is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids (hello, brain health and goodbye brain fog!), iodine, calcium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, B vitamins, chromium, zinc, and selenium, and many more It has 92 of the 110 minerals the body needs to function optimally.
People who love sea moss boast of its benefits. The big three benefits most often credited to sea moss include the ability to:
- boost energy levels
- improve gut health
- reduce inflammation
But there’s more…
It’s high in soluble and insoluble fiber
Sea moss’ high fiber content may help to reduce high cholesterol while helping to improve blood sugar control. Sea moss is high in iron and antioxidant content, and sea moss may contribute to immune health. The immunocompetency benefits don’t stop there!
It’s an immunity booster
Early studies suggest that the minerals found in sea moss can boost the immune system and may even prevent the growth of S. Enteritidis, the bacteria that causes salmonella in humans.
Some studies suggest that sea moss can slow the progression of chronic illnesses like Parkinson’s disease. While there is some scientific evidence to support these claims, more research is needed.
Sea moss is also a natural source of carrageenan, a compound that has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. Carrageenan is generally extracted by manufacturers because it is a natural thickener. It’s used to thicken milk products such as ice cream, and to create gels and gummies. Some consumers prefer to use it in its raw form or supplement (encapsulated powder) form.
It’s good for your skin
If you’re looking for a way to improve your skin health, sea moss is a great option. It’s packed with nutrients like zinc, magnesium, and vitamin E that can help treat conditions like psoriasis, blemishes, and the appearance of enlarged pores. This sea plant also helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles too.
Collagen is a protein that is found in the connective tissue of animals, and it is responsible for giving skin its elasticity. While collagen is only found in animal-based products, sea moss has the nutrients your body needs to boost collagen production, reducing the risk of wrinkly and crepey skin.
Supports blood circulation
Even your blood and circulatory system benefit from incorporating sea moss into your diet! Sea moss not only aids blood flow and circulation but also effectively regulates blood pressure.
This wonder ingredient is chock-full of iron-containing 9 milligrams per 100 grams ( Whereas other Iron-rich foods like chicken have less). Since iron transports oxygen to the brain and body via the bloodstream, low levels can make you feel exhausted and lethargic.
High in muscle-building protein
The natural protein boost that sea moss provides is nothing to sneeze at either. 100 grams of sea moss contains 6 grams, the protein content of sea moss helps to feed your muscles and keep you satiated for longer periods, making it an excellent choice for those looking to lose weight or manage their overall health.
Flushes out toxins
If you’re looking for a thorough, gentle detox, sea moss may be your holy grail! Sea moss helps to flush out toxins and helps your body balance its pH levels. Sea moss is an excellent source of dietary fiber, which is important for promoting healthy digestion. Fiber helps to keep things moving along the digestive tract, promoting bowel movements and detoxification.
Furthermore, adequate intake of fiber may help to reduce the risk of constipation, bloating, and other digestive issues. This seaweed is full of nutrients and beneficial compounds that help remove toxins from the body and aid in the absorption and transport of harmful metals like lead and mercury. It also improves your ability to expel toxins through perspiration.
Sea Moss Benefits By Gender
Men and women alike benefit from the use of sea moss. But there may be different effects on men versus women.
Some women report that sea moss helps to ease menstrual cramps, improve, and balance hormones, and speed up metabolism.
Many men don’t realize the importance of zinc in their bodies, and sea moss is a great source of this mineral. It can help men improve their sex drive, hormone balance, sperm count and aids them in healing wounds. Sea moss may also help with muscle building and improved recovery after workouts.
Don’t over do it
As with any nutritional supplement, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider before taking sea moss or any supplement. There may be sea moss side effects to consider including how it interacts with any medications you may be taking.
A few things to be aware of before trying sea moss are that it has a slightly fishy taste, and slimy texture, it could contain heavy metals, and it has a high iodine and iron content. This could lead to overconsumption if you’re not careful.