Also known as Irish Sea Moss, Carrageen, and Chondrus Crispus – a type of red algae packed with vitamins and minerals – this intriguing superfood is having its moment under the spotlight. Key figures in the nutritional industry, as well as celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, are raving about its health benefits.
Sea Moss also has Caribbean roots. Historically, it was used to cure disease and as a form of protection.
Now, it is esteemed in the health industry. Often referred to as ‘nature’s multivitamin’, it is packed with iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and vitamins A, D, and E.
Additionally, it’s high in protein and has a low caloric index. Plus, it hikes libido, improves metabolism, aids gut health – and the list continues. What can’t this plant-based superfood do for our health?
What is Sea Moss?
Put simply, Sea Moss is a type of seaweed with many purposes. You can find it along coastlines in Ireland, Europe, and North America. Extracts are used as a plant-based alternative to gelatine.
It is packaged and bottled around the globe. More recently, it has become a popular health food with growing interest mushrooming online.
A wealth of tablets, gels, soaps, and even honey package Sea Moss as a mood-boosting, disease-busting whole food.
Not always used as a health food, it can find its way into products. It is used as a thickener, stabilizer, and emulsifier in skincare products, plant milks, and yogurts.
Sea Moss nutrition and benefits
Sea vegetables and seaweed contain a range of fiber and phytonutrients. These nutrients aren’t typically found in soil-grown plants.
Research indicates a diet that includes seaweed may help reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases including certain types of cancer. It may also help with endometriosis because it helps break down estrogen, and can help reduce depression, according to the top plant-based medic, Dr. Michael Greger.
Moreover, Greger says consuming seaweed boosts the production of antibodies and T cells which make human immune systems stronger.
Immunity in the elderly could be boosted if seaweeds are more widely consumed, Dr. Greger says. In addition, we may also see a reduction in infectious diseases.
Another study found people susceptible to developing Parkinson’s could experience neurological benefits from consuming Sea Moss. Different types of Sea Moss helped reduce ‘brain fog’ and increase cognitive function, it found.
Its anti-viral and antioxidant-rich properties have caused people to feel a boost in energy, libido, and better digestion. This is according to Deep Singh, who is the founder of Sea Moss supplier, Sea Moss UK.
Sea Moss contains ‘almost every’ mineral the body requires for ‘optimum’ nutritional support, Singh claims – 83 percent of all essential nutrients to be exact.
‘It’s encouraged a boom for Sea Moss as more people open up to functional healing as a way of life. People became more open to taking preventive measures during these unprecedented times.
‘COVID-19 shifted the perception of health on a global scale.
‘We are seeing a rise in not only Sea Moss customers but new competitive Sea Moss brands that are entering the market’, he added.
Plant-based protein source
A study published by Nutrition Reviews assessed both the benefits and risks of consuming seaweed, including Sea Moss.
Aquaculture account for 96 percent of seaweed production. In order to meet the growing demand’ for seaweed-based ingredients, tighter regulations are needed. This is to ‘ensure’ sustainability, the research states. Seaweed has the power to provide valuable protein for future diets, the authors concluded.
‘It is estimated that 56 million metric tonnes of algae will be required per annum as an alternative protein source by 2054, which will represent 5.94% of global protein demand’, they claim.
Protein extracted from seaweed ‘holds promise’ as a source of plant-based protein for humans. Therefore, it could ‘contribute substantially to non-animal protein sources in the future.’
Sea Moss serves as a ‘promising candidate’ in providing an alternative source of fiber, the article continued. This is because it contains agar.
Is Sea Moss safe?
Stockers and experts warn of the differences between Carrageen and Carrageenan.
Carrageenan is the extract isolated and used in manufacturing, according to Singh. It doesn’t have any ‘nutritional value’ and is used to thicken processed foods. Carrageen refers to the algae, which is rich in nutrients.
There is only one process of treating carrageen that makes it safe to eat, she said. This is when it’s extracted and processed with alkaline substances, and not acid. Processing it with acid produces poligeenan which is not safe for consumption, she claims.
Additionally, the extracted Carrageenan can cause side effects, Hammond-Blackburn added.
Symptoms include bloating, allergies, irritable bowel syndrome, and inflammation. It contains high levels of iodine. This can cause hypothyroidism, she said. Whilst rare, it is important to note if you have autoimmune thyroid conditions.
She says whilst it’s been used medicinally for centuries, it hasn’t been widely researched in ‘academic circles’ yet.
How to use Sea Moss
For the most part, Sea Moss is cheapest when bought dried. A plethora of recipes call for straightforward preparation.
To start, soak the moss until you’ve removed any leftover sand. Next, bring to a boil and simmer for around 10 minutes. Now, strain the water but set it aside. Finally, blitz the moss and add the strained water bit by bit until a gel forms.
You can use it to make health-boosting teas when combined with elderflower, lemon, and apple juice, Hammond Blackburn says. This can help fight the common cold.
She said: “There are specific ways to cook carrageen in order to receive the most benefits.”
Eating it raw is ‘unpleasant and not recommended’. This is due to its tough texture.
“Boiling carrageen in water is the best way to reap its benefits. It releases a flavorless and gelatinous liquid. You can use it in a variety of recipes, usually as a natural way to thicken up soups and stews. Carrageen moss pudding is a popular Irish dish.”
Strain through a fine sieve in order to remove leftover carrageen produce, once mixed.
Popular methods of consumption include adding it to smoothies, which is how Kim Kardashian uses it.
5 Sea Moss recipes
Wash and soak your Sea Moss, before blitzing frozen banana with sweet spices of vanilla, cardamom, nutmeg, and cinnamon for this tasty smoothie recipe.
This dessert utilizes ackee, a tropical fruit often used in Caribbean cooking and found in international supermarkets.
Warm the fruit with Sea Moss gel, maple syrup, and almond mood. Next, blitz, chill and serve with your chosen toppings.
You can create a cozy evening meal with this zesty tapenade recipe. Additionally, add it to pasta or vegetables for a hearty plant-based meal.
Warming Irish Moss Drink
Whilst Ireland is famed for its Irish cream liqueur, Baileys, this is a healthy plant-based version. The difference is it has Jamaican roots.
It involves making a gel from dried Sea Moss and blending it with dates and chosen plant milk.
Ultimate Loaded Chilli
This vegan chili recipe is full of goodness and spice. Simply add your Sea Moss in gel form to tinned plum tomatoes and blitz.