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What is Sea Moss? A Complete Scientific Guide
As the latest health fad, sea moss has become a buzzword amongst celebrities. If you're curious about this spiky-looking stuff and want to know more, this article is for you.
What is Sea Moss?
Sea moss or Irish moss, scientifically referred to as Chondrus crispus, is a specific species of algae. It grows most commonly in tide pools or inlets along the rocky Atlantic shores.
It can also be pale yellow, green, and purple, even though it's called red seaweed. It is also referred to as carrageenan sea moss/ seaweed because it contains carrageenan, a gelatinous compound often used as a thickening agent in food and cosmetics.
Sea moss is a veritable superfood. It is nutrient-dense, and you can use it to augment your diet. Below are the vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients available in 10 grams, i.e., two tablespoons of sea moss −
Iodine − Sea moss is rich in iodine which helps the functioning of the thyroid gland, metabolism, and cognitive function.
Iron − There is about 0.9 mg (milligrams) in one serving of sea moss, i.e., 10% of the daily dietary value (DV). It can be used to keep anemia at bay and increase blood production.
Calcium − Sea moss contains 7.3 mg calcium and 1% DV.
Potassium − Each serving of sea moss contains 6.3 mg of potassium which helps maintain fluid balance.
Magnesium − At 14.4 mg, one serving of sea moss provides 7% of daily requirements. Magnesium is vital for all bodily reactions, e.g., energy conversion from food.
Vitamins A, B, C, and K − Sea moss contains only minuscule amounts, i.e., about 0.5 micrograms of Vitamins A and K and 0.3 milligrams of Vitamin C, but every bit counts. There are also trace amounts of folates and riboflavin, i.e., Vitamins B9 and B2, respectively.
Phosphorus − At 15.7 mg, sea moss has up to 2% of a person's phosphorus DV.Sea moss also has zinc and copper in low concentrations, making up a surprising 4% and 3% of daily dietary value, respectively. There are few fats, sugars, sodium, and carbohydrates but considerable protein content, totaling only five calories. There are also minute quantities of selenium, manganese, sulfur compounds, and carotene.
*These potential health benefits are not proven, nor have they been approved by the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration). We can surmise some advantages to overall health through nutritional content information and limited studies.
Sea moss can reduce blood pressure and the risk of irregular heartbeat and stroke with significant magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Sea moss is an anti-hyperlipidaemic that minimizes bad cholesterol and is an anticoagulant (blood thinner).
Digestive System Function
The 0.13 grams of fiber in sea moss lubricates the gut. The prebiotic mucilage within the fiber can kickstart the gut bacteria. Irish moss also has anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe the digestive tract and prevent diseases like irritable bowel syndrome.
Immune System Protection
Iron, zinc, and Vitamins C, E, and A contribute to a sturdy immune system that can fight infections. Sea moss also has antibacterial, antifungal, and immunomodulatory properties.
Lifestyle Disorder Prevention
Studies on rats have shown that the anti-inflammatory qualities may help to stave off cancer. However, no human studies have been conducted. Sea moss could also help regulate blood sugar and promote weight loss through compounds like fucoxanthin and alginate. Alginate binds to lipid/fat cells, preventing their digestion and absorption. Anti-oxidant properties and carrageenan might also possess some anti-tumor attributes.
Muscles and Bones
The calcium and protein in sea moss build healthy muscles and nerve function. They also prevent osteoporosis and promote bone health. The amino acids, e.g., taurine in proteins, repair micro tears in muscles, especially after workouts. This reduces fatigue and pain and, along with other nutrients, aids muscle recovery and energy re-building.
The iodine in sea moss may also help kidney function and prevent kidney stones. Minerals and vitamins could help cleanse and detoxify the body and promote healthier hair. Sulfur and arginine can replenish the skin and fight acne.
Sea moss may contribute toward preventing neurodegenerative disorders or even boosting fertility, although no concrete evidence exists.
How to Prepare and Eat
Knowing how to incorporate sea moss into your diet can be confusing, given its slimy texture and salty, fishy taste and smell. When cleaned properly, sea moss becomes relatively neutral and mild tasting, mainly if harvested from a good area.
Below are some ideas on how to pack it down −
Medical supplements, e.g., gummies or capsules
Can sprinkle powders over yogurt, oats, tea/ coffee, and cereal.
Gels are made from raw, dried sea moss frozen, thawed, and soaked in water overnight. It can be blended into smoothies, soups, juices, and stews, which need thickening.
Words of Caution
As beneficial as sea moss, you must be careful about intake to prevent adverse health effects.
The main concern is excess iodine. Since the body doesn't naturally produce iodine, you must get it from food. But intake must be moderated by prescribed limits. Otherwise, iodine toxicity could cause hyperthyroidism, Hashimoto's disease, and others. Iodine is essential for pregnant women and fetal brain development. Still, sea moss must be taken only with a doctor's approval.
Another issue with sea moss and seaweed, in general, is their propensity to absorb heavy metals like arsenic and lead from the water. It is particularly true of sea moss cultivated in waters contaminated by industrial/oil spillage, factory chemical dumping, or pesticide run-off. It would help if you were careful of fake sea moss grown on ropes in Caribbean pools, which have no nutrients from authentic, organically grown sea moss.
Sea moss can be a great add-on to your diet. It isn't a substitute for a balanced diet. Still, it can mitigate deficiencies stemming from medical conditions or dietary restrictions, e.g., vegan/vegetarian diet, lactose/dairy intolerance, allergies, and poor absorption.
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