We all know that it’s common to eat seaweed (hello, delicious sushi rolls), but have you ever heard of eating sea moss?
If that sounds like a bizarre thing to eat, you’re definitely not alone!
It’s easy to jump on the next health trend without knowing the validity of it. But as it turns out, there’s actually some health related reasons for eating it.
Sea moss is packed with micronutrients and is flavorless, making it an easy addition to many meals.
So what exactly is it, why is it good for you, and how can you add it to your regimen? Let’s dive in!
What is Sea Moss?
Sea moss (Chondrus crispus), also known as Irish moss, is a type of red algae that is found on the shores of Europe, North America, and some Caribbean islands.
It's a flavorless sea plant that is similar to other algae or seaweeds. It can be found in various shades like red, green, yellow, purple, brown, and black.
Historians believe that people have been consuming sea moss and various types of sea weeds for thousands of years. So this newer trend really does have some historic roots.
What Makes Sea Moss Healthy?
The main reason for sea moss’s fame is it's miconutrient-dense profile. It’s especially rich in magnesium, calcium, potassium, iodine, and iron. Let’s take a look at a few!
Many vegetarians and vegans love to consume it due to its rich iron content. This is because the body’s absorption of plant-based iron tends to be much lower than the iron from meat/animal products. Additionally, there a fewer iron-rich plant-based food options than there are animal-based.
For example, some of the foods richest in iron are red meat, oysters, and chicken.
In contrast, approximately 100 grams of sea moss provides about 50% of the daily recommended value of iron!
If you don’t consume enough iron, you may feel fatigued and develop iron-deficiency anemia. This means that ensuring that you have a good source of iron daily is vital!
If you’ve taken a Vessel wellness test recently, it’s possible that you noticed that your magnesium levels were low.
If so, sea moss can help!
A 100-gram serving of sea moss contains about 34% of your daily magnesium needs!
Magnesium is involved in over 300 chemical reactions in the human body - so it can affect many different health metrics!
Magnesium plays an important role in bone development, blood pressure, sleep, nerve health, and more.
So if getting more magnesium in your day is a goal for you, sea moss can help.
Are you getting your daily iodine needs?
Iodine might not be a mineral that you often think, but it is extremely necessary for proper thyroid function.
Your thyroid gland needs iodine to make thyroid hormone, which is responsible for regulating many aspects of human growth and development in the body, including your metabolism.
Especially if you’re vegan or vegetarian, it can be hard to meet your daily needs since a lot of iodine-rich foods are animal-based. If you are a meat eater though, iodine can be found in foods like seafood, chicken, eggs, and dairy products.
If you eat foods with or cook with iodized salt you probably will be able to reach your daily needs that way, but sea moss can help ensure that you get there, especially if you are on a salt restrictive low-sodium diet!
Other Potential Health Benefits
While there are many other health claims made about sea moss, there haven’t been enough quality human trials conducted to know yet if these benefits are true.
One recent study suggested that red algae may have neuro-protective benefits that could be implicated in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, yet since this study was conducted on worms it can’t be extrapolated to humans.
However, this suggests a need for future human research on this topic and could be an interesting study to look out for!
One potential health benefit may be it's carrageenan content.
Carrageenan is a natural thickener and source of soluble fiber that can act as a prebiotic, which means it feeds the good bacteria in your gut and is essential for digestive health.
Soluble fiber can also help you feel fuller, which can aid in weight loss endeavors.
So while there isn’t enough evidence to claim that sea moss improves digestion or aids in weight loss, there is a chance that it could thanks to it’s soluble fiber content.
As popularity in consuming sea moss grows, it’s likely that researchers will look for opportunities to study this interesting food more!
Risks and Side Effects
While sea moss is great for helping you meet your iodine needs, it’s important to note that it can be dangerous to consume too much iodine.
Too much iodine can cause the formation of thyroid dysfunction and goiters, or enlarged thyroid glands, just as too little iodine can.
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for iodine is 150 mcg for adults, however, the tolerable upper limit (TIL) is 1,100 mcg. This means that you shouldn’t consume more iodine than this amount per day to stay safe, which is equivalent to eating about 286 grams of sea moss in a day, not including other sources of iodine.
It is also important to note that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve or regulate supplements like sea moss, and with very little research available, there could be other unknown risks from regularly consuming it.
How to Choose Sea Moss
As sea moss has grown in popularity, higher demand means that more is being grown in artificial or “farmed” environments.
While there’s no research on whether the nutritional profile of sea moss changes based on where it’s grown, it’s highly possible that it's grown in an artificial environment may not have the same composition as it does when it’s wild harvested from it’s natural habitat.
To ensure that you buy one in its most natural state, look for “wild harvested” or “wildcrafted” kinds without chemical additives. Here are some trusted brands to look out for:
How to Eat Sea Moss
Adding sea moss into your daily or weekly routine is easy!
Here are a few different ways you can use it:
- Blend it into your favorite smoothie or blended beverage
- Blend into acaí berry to make an acaí bowl
- Add it to cooked beans and rice
- Use it to naturally thicken broths and soups
- Stir it into to pureed and creamy foods like pudding, applesauce, or yogurt
Many sea moss-based recipes call for sea moss gel, which you can learn how to make with this awesome recipe!
Here are some delicious recipes that call for sea moss gel:
Is It Right for You?
So, should you start adding sea moss to your daily routine?
Especially if you’re vegan, it might be a good consideration to help with fulfilling your daily nutrient needs.
But either way, sea moss can make a healthful addition to your diet although the jury is still out on any therapeutic health benefits that it may carry.
If you want to learn more about the benefits of sea moss or how to use it in a recipe, make sure you chat with your friendly Vessel nutritionist on your Vessel app!