A nutritionist explains the top health benefits of sea moss, including its ability to support thyroid health, heart health and more.
Kerry Torrens, a registered nutritionist, discusses sea moss – what it is, where it is found, and how it can benefit your health.
Sea moss: what is it?
Chondrus crispus is an edible seaweed commonly growing along Atlantic coasts, including those in North America and Europe. As with other seaweeds, it’s a rich source of nutrients that are hard to come by.
Known more commonly as sea moss, carrageenan is frequently used as an emulsifying agent in food. Food manufacturers frequently use vegan-friendly and good all-around emulsifier carrageenan. As a domestic ingredient, sea moss is more likely to be found as a supplement than in a recipe.
While you might expect sea moss to be green, it comes in many colors, including green, yellow, red, brown and even black. However, the most common variety is red, often called Irish moss.
Nutritional benefits of sea moss
Two tablespoons (10g) of raw Irish moss has approximately :
4.9 kcals/21 KJ
7.2 mg calcium
There are a number of aspects that can impact the nutritional value of sea moss, including the location of harvest, the season and how it is stored and processed. Here are some great health benefits of sea moss :
May support thyroid health
Hormones released by our thyroid gland regulate growth, energy, reproduction and repair. In order to do this, the thyroid requires some nutrients, including iodine and tyrosine. It depends on the type of seaweed and the way it is stored and prepared, both of these nutrients can be found in seaweed, though at different levels.
May promote gut health
As a prebiotic, seaweed acts as a food source for bacteria in our gut, as it is rich in fiber, some of which is polysaccharides, a fiber we can’t digest, but the bacteria in our gut can digest.
By feeding the gut bacteria in this way, we create an environment that promotes the beneficial microbes. Through the production of short-chain fatty acids, these gut bacteria play a key role in shaping our health.
May support immunity
Seaweed, like sea moss, has evolved to survive the harsh conditions of coastal waters by developing an effective defense mechanism. In addition to providing health benefits, they contain phytochemicals, which can modulate the immune system and improve immunity.
May improve blood sugar control
Including seaweed into a healthy, balanced diet may support blood sugar control and reduce diabetes risk. Several compounds, including carotenoid and fucoxanthin, support better blood sugar control by reducing insulin resistance. Seaweed’s high fiber content also helps slow digestion.
May benefit heart health
One of the richest plant resources of omega-3 fatty acids is seaweed, including sea moss. There is evidence that seaweed improves cholesterol balance and acts as a blood thinner, reducing cardiovascular disease risk .
Despite some studies using sea moss, many others use alternative seaweed species. In order to clarify the specific health effects of sea moss in the diet of humans, more research is needed.
Does sea moss pose any health risks?
Seaweed, including sea moss, is especially useful for plant-based diets since it contains iodine. Consuming too much seaweed, however, may negatively affect thyroid health due to its high iodine content. The British Dietetic Association recommends that pregnant women do not consume seaweed more than once a week .
You may be advised by your physician or dietitian to monitor your intake of vitamin K-rich foods, such as seaweed, if you’re on blood thinning medication. Potassium is another nutrient found in seaweed. You should be careful when consuming foods rich in potassium, such as seaweed, if you take certain medications that raise potassium levels in the blood.
It is possible for seaweed to absorb and store heavy metals like cadmium, mercury, aluminum, and lead in high amounts. It is recommended to consume sea moss in moderation, as with other sea vegetables, since the toxicity risk appears low .
If you’re taking prescription medication, have a relevant medical condition, or have other concerns, speak with your doctor.