What Is Sea Moss

Sea moss can be processed in different ways to produce different types of carrageenan, some that are soft and pliable, some that are hard and brittle, and others that don’t jell but instead are used as thickeners.

Health Benefits of Sea Moss

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

  • Vitamin C 0%
  • Iron 6%
  • Vitamin B6 0%
  • Magnesium 0%
  • Calcium 1%
  • Vitamin D 0%
  • Cobalamin 0%
  • Vitamin A 0%

Sea moss, also known as Irish moss or red seaweed, is a type of seaweed that grows year-round in tidepools and inlets.

Sea moss is commonly harvested in New England to extract carrageenan, a gelatinous carbohydrate used in baked goods and cosmetics. But sea moss can also be eaten on its own, and it is often used to thicken soups and stews.

Sea moss gel

Sea moss gel is a natural, nutrient-rich product derived from sea moss. It is high in minerals such as iodine, potassium, and calcium, and is a good source of hydration and hydrocolloids. It is often used as a thickening and stabilizing agent in food, cosmetics, and medicine.

Let’s take a look at the health benefits of this intertidal seaweed.

Sea Moss Benefits

Ever since Kim Kardashian posted about drinking a sea moss smoothie, the healthy eating community has been bursting with information about this superfood, claiming that sea moss can help with everything from your skin to your immune system. But how many of those benefits are based on science and how many are just hearsay?

The truth is that while people have eaten sea moss for years, scientists are only now beginning to research its medical benefits. Here’s what we know so far.

May prevent Parkinson’s disease

Parkinson’s disease is the second-most-common degenerative disease found in older adults.

It causes tremors, stiffness, and slowness of movement, and there is no cure. But early research shows that sea moss may be able to slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease.

In a study done with worms, extract from sea moss was shown to reduce stiffness and slowness of movement. This could mean promising things for people with Parkinson’s. But more research is needed to see if sea moss has the same effect on humans that it has on worms.

May improve the immune system

Early studies suggest that sea moss can boost the immune system and may even protect the body from contracting salmonella .

One study showed that sea moss can stop the growth of S. enteritidis , the bacteria that causes salmonella in humans. But this is a very early study and has not been reproduced in animals or humans. More research is needed to determine whether sea moss could help prevent or treat salmonella in humans.

Sea Moss Nutrition

One of the reasons sea moss has been touted as a superfood recently is that it’s a vegan , gluten-free source of many nutrients. Some of the nutrients in sea moss are:

Nutrients per serving

2 tablespoons of sea moss contain:

  • Calories: 5
  • Fat : 0 grams
  • Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
  • Sodium : 7 milligrams
  • Carbohydrates : 1 gram
  • Fiber: 0 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams
  • Protein: 0 grams

Portion sizes

When it comes to using sea moss, remember that a little bit goes a long way. A serving of sea moss is just two tablespoons, so it doesn’t take much to start adding it to your diet.

Sea moss is a source of iodine, which is something you can eat too much of. Having too much iodine in your diet can lead to a goiter, or enlarged thyroid gland, which can require surgery to resolve. To prevent this, be sure to stick to no more than one serving of sea moss per day.

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Sea Moss Side Effects

Although Irish moss offers many health benefits and can improve your body’s overall function, some studies have shown that carrageenan may have negative effects.

Under certain circumstances, carrageenan can be converted into “degraded carrageenan,” or poligeenan, which is known to be toxic and may cause several health problems. There is no scientific evidence to show that your body can convert carrageenan to poligeenan. But some seaweed can contain poligeenan naturally.

May cause intestinal inflammation

Poligeenan can lead to inflammation of the intestines, causing problems with nutrition absorption. This can also lead to discomfort and bloating over time. It may also be linked with colitis and symptoms of Crohn’s disease.

May cause stomach ulcers

In large amounts, poligeenan has also been shown to cause stomach lesions and ulcers in animal studies. More poligeenan is generally connected to larger ulcers.

May lead to stomach and bowel cancer

Finally, poligeenan has also been linked to polyps that may become cancerous. Poligeenan appears to cause problems in the digestive tract that lead to cell mutations commonly found in cancers, particularly in cases where ulcers are found.

It’s important to note that carrageenan has none of these effects. The FDA has determined that carrageenan is safe to use as a food additive, and the human body cannot produce conditions to convert carrageenan to poligeenan.

High levels of iodine found in sea moss can cause thyroid problems and even cancer. Eating too much sea moss can also cause stomach upset, including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. And sea moss may contain toxic metals like arsenic, mercury, and lead, which can be dangerous to consume. Also, sea moss may have blood-thinning properties, so people taking blood-thinning medication should avoid it. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should also avoid sea moss because there is not enough research on its effects on these populations. Before adding sea moss to your diet, it’s best to talk to a health care professional.

How Much Sea Moss to Take Daily

The FDA recommends that people consume no more than 150 micrograms of iodine daily. Since Irish moss is rich in iodine, you may want to be cautious when it comes to overeating it. In general, eating one to two servings, or 2 to 4 tablespoons, is considered safe and healthy.

How to Prepare Sea Moss

Many brands have begun selling sea moss capsules and tablets. But there are plenty of ways you can prepare sea moss yourself to enjoy in dishes at home.

To cook with sea moss, you first need to wash it and then soak it in cold water for a full day, changing the water frequently. You’ll know your sea moss is ready to use when it has doubled in size and become white and gelatinous. Once it’s ready, put the sea moss and some water into a blender and blend until it becomes a thick, honey-colored liquid.

Once you have your prepared sea moss, you can store it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks and use it in a number of recipes. Sea moss acts as a thickening agent in recipes, making it ideal for:

Show Sources

ESHA Research Inc., Salem, OR.

Frontiers in Microbiology : “Red Seaweeds Sarcodiotheca gaudichaudii and Chondrus crispus down Regulate Virulence Factors of Salmonella Enteritidis and Induce Immune Responses in Caenorhabditis elegans.”

Marine Drugs : “Neuroprotective Effects of the Cultivated Chondrus crispus in a C. elegans Model of Parkinson’s Disease.”

Mayo Clinic: “Goiter,” “Parkinson’s Disease.”

University of Rhode Island Environmental Data Center: “Irish Moss (Chrondus Crispus) .”

Britannica: “Irish Moss.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Omega-3 Fatty Acids.”

Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition : “Clarifying the confusion between poligeenan, degraded carrageenan, and carrageenan: A review of the chemistry, nomenclature, and in vivo toxicology by the oral route.”

Critical Reviews in Toxicology : “A critical review of the toxicological effects of carrageenan and processed eucheuma seaweed on the gastrointestinal tract.”

Journal of Applied Phycology : “Melanoma and brown seaweed: an integrative hypothesis.”

Lipid Technology : “The carotenoid fucoxanthin from brown seaweed affects obesity.”

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Lipids in Health and Disease : “Polyunsaturated fatty acids in various macroalgal species from north Atlantic and tropical seas.”

National Institutes of Health: “Iodine.”

Scientific American : “The Carrageenan Controversy.”

U.S. Department of Agriculture: “Seaweed, irishmoss, raw.”

FDA: Code of Federal Regulations Title 21.

What Is Sea Moss?

Danlio Alfaro

Danilo Alfaro has published more than 800 recipes and tutorials focused on making complicated culinary techniques approachable to home cooks.

Updated on 09/22/22

Bowl of Irish Moss (aka Sea Moss)

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Sea moss, also known as Irish moss or carrageen moss, is a species of red algae that is primarily used to make carrageenan, a thickener and stabilizer commonly used in ice creams and other processed foods. It’s often used as a vegan and vegetarian substitute for traditional gelatin, which is made from animal byproducts.

What Is Sea Moss?

Sea moss (Chondrus crispus) is a dark red plant that grows on rocks along both coasts of the Atlantic ocean. One of its main structural components, making up the cell walls of the plant, is a type of carbohydrate called carrageenan. This carbohydrate, a cellulose, is extracted by boiling the plant, causing it to absorb water and form a jelly. This jelly is in turn used as a thickening and emulsifying ingredient in desserts, yogurts, sauces, salad dressings, pates, and vegetarian hot dogs, to name just a few.

Because it binds well with proteins, it is especially useful in thickening dairy products, which is why it is so frequently used in making ice cream, cream cheese, and yogurt. It’s often used in chocolate milk to keep the cocoa particles from separating from the milk and settling on the bottom of the container.

Sea moss is just one type of seaweed that contains carrageenan that can be extracted for use in food.

To extract carrageenan from sea moss, the plant is first cleaned and washed to remove sand and other debris, then it’s cooked in a solution of potassium hydroxide, an alkali that helps to strengthen the gel. After another round of washing and drying, the cooked seaweed is ground up finely and then processed with either alcohol or potassium chloride, which dissolves the carrageenan so that it can be extracted. It also undergoes color removal. The concentrated gel is then dried, milled into a powder, and packaged.

Sea moss can be processed in different ways to produce different types of carrageenan, some that are soft and pliable, some that are hard and brittle, and others that don’t jell but instead are used as thickeners.

How to Use Sea Moss

The most common way to use sea moss in the kitchen is in the form of carrageenan powder, which is mainly used to thicken liquids. So for example, if you were making a cheesecake, you might use carrageenan powder instead of gelatin powder. If so, you’d add the carrageenan powder along with the sugar, salt, and other dry ingredients. Next, you’d blend the dry ingredients with the liquid ones, such as the egg yolks, milk, and cream cheese, then blend until smooth, pour the mixture into your pie shell and bake.

In other cases, you might have to dissolve the carrageenan powder and heat it to form a gel before adding it to your recipe.

It is also possible to create a gel by cooking dried sea moss, although it will likely retain its seaweed flavor and color, and it may also have a coating of salt from the ocean.

Carrageen moss Irish moss Irish moss

What Does It Taste Like?

Sea moss itself has a seaweed-like flavor, but the carrageenan that is extracted from it is flavorless.

Sea Moss Recipes

You could substitute carrageenan made from sea moss in many recipes that call for gelatin.

  • Basic Marshmallows
  • Carrot and Pineapple Salad

Where to Buy Sea Moss

Carrageenan is available at specialty food stores and health food stores and online outlets that carry vegan and vegetarian products. Dried sea moss is also available from health food stores and online merchants.

Storage

Dried sea moss will last for a year if kept sealed and stored in a cool, dry place. Carrageenan powder can be stored for a similar amount of time as long as it’s sealed and kept cool and dry. If you make a gel from the carrageenan powder, or by cooking the sea moss itself, you should use it right away, although you could store it in the refrigerator for two to three days.

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Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for his studies of ageing, genetics and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics NAS of Ukraine. His scientific researches are printed by the most reputable international magazines. Some of his works are: Differences in the gut Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio across age groups in healthy Ukrainian population [BiomedCentral.com]; Mating status affects Drosophila lifespan, metabolism and antioxidant system [Science Direct]; Anise Hyssop Agastache foeniculum Increases Lifespan, Stress Resistance, and Metabolism by Affecting Free Radical Processes in Drosophila [Frontiersin].
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