The sea moss or Irish moss (Chondrus crispus) is a type of algae whose main habitat is the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean. It shares many characteristics with the rest of seaweed or sea vegetables, such as kombu, sweet or nori.
It can be found in different colors, but the one that is most often consumed is red. In addition, commercially it has been used for a long time in the food and cosmetic industry as a thickener and nutritional supplement.
Its growing popularity has to do with some of the benefits that scientists have given it. In particular, it is associated with weight loss, increased energy, and muscle mass gain. Are you interested in knowing more about its properties?
Sea Moss Nutrients
In general, algae contain a wide variety of nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals. They are light, with a lot of fiber and rather low in protein and fat. In the case of dry raw sea moss, each 10 grams provides the following:
- Energy: 50 kilocalories.
- Water: 81.3 grams.
- Protein: 1.5 grams.
- Lipids: 0.16 grams.
- Carbohydrates: 12.3 grams.
- Fiber: 1.3 grams.
- Iron: 8.9 milligrams.
- Magnesium: 144 milligrams.
- Zinc: 1.95 milligrams.
- Copper: 0.149 milligrams.
In addition to this, the presence of antioxidants is also remarkable. However, it should be noted that algae are consumed in small quantities, so 100 grams of product is a high portion. In the case of Irish moss, a tablespoon or two a day is sufficient.
Health Benefits of Sea Moss
Most of the people who use Irish moss do so seeking positive health effects. And in recent years there has been some scientific evidence about it. Even so, it is necessary to emphasize that many of these are derived from the consumption of algae at a general level and, therefore, it is necessary to investigate more about sea moss in particular. Its main effects are the following:
- It provides dietary fiber, which has a prebiotic effect that improves the health of the intestinal microbiota. In turn, the latter is related to the proper functioning of the immune system. Some studies in salmon and mice link the ingestion of sea moss with a better immune response.
- Seaweed has a potential application in the loss of body weight and in the improvement of some metabolic markers. This has been determined by studies in animals, so it is necessary to carry out studies in humans to corroborate it.
- As a nutritional supplement, Irish moss can be used for recovery after physical exercise. It is said to help relieve fatigue and muscle pain.
- Its vitamins and antioxidants allow to regenerate, nourish and hydrate the skin. For this, it is possible to use it both internally and externally.
- Consuming sea moss provides some health benefits. Similarly, the use of extracts with pharmaceutical functions has also been studied. This is the case of an investigation published in the journal Marine Drugs whose conclusion is that “the extract of the alga Chondrus crispus has neuroprotective activity”. Protection was also found against Parkinson’s disease
Possible Risks and Side Effects
Seaweed is generally considered a safe food. Few references are found of health problems derived from its intake. Still, there are some considerations that should be taken into account before introducing them into the diet.
On the one hand, there is the possibility of an excessively high iodine intake. This situation can lead to some problems, such as inflammation or cancer of the thyroid gland. To avoid this, it is enough not to exceed the recommended daily dose.
On the other hand, there is a risk of contamination by heavy metals. Marine plants can also accumulate these harmful compounds found in the environment. However, at the moment the risk of toxicity in algae appears to be low.
How to consume sea moss
On a dietary level, getting acquainted with Irish moss is fairly straightforward, as it can be added to almost all your favorite recipes. In fact, it is used in a dry and raw form. It is then transformed into a liquid or gel, and added to your desired dishes.
To prepare this gel it is only necessary to immerse the algae in water for a few hours (or a whole night). Afterwards, it has to be rinsed and mixed again with new water. Finally, cover and reserve a few more hours in the refrigerator to gel.
Some of the dishes in which you can taste Irish moss are smoothies, yogurts or oatmeal porridge. It is also possible to include them in rice dishes, stews, soups and all kinds of sauces.
Gelled moss keeps well for about 5 days in the refrigerator. Thus, it is ready for use at any time. If the marine smell is bothersome, just soak the algae in water with lime for a few minutes. Thus, it is reduced or eliminated.
Beyond cooking, some companies market it in the form of a dietary supplement. The types of presentation are varied, such as gel, liquid, powder or capsules. Sometimes it is combined with other ingredients to increase its medicinal properties.
What is there to remember?
Many of the edible seaweeds are foods with a high nutritional value. However, despite their composition and their beneficial properties for health, it is not advisable to abuse them as a source of nutrients.
The ideal thing is to consume them from time to time, or add them in small amounts to the daily diet. In addition, before taking any food supplement, or if you have any doubts, it is advisable to consult a specialist.