The newest hidden weapon in your health arsenal may just be the seaweed you stepped over to get into the ocean the last time you were at the beach. Sea moss has been around since the oceans first lapped the shore, but it's enjoying a surge in popularity, because of its powerful immune-boosting nutrients. Sea moss is rich in natural minerals, high in iron and antioxidants that make it an all-around immunity booster and weight-loss aid, which is why companies are harvesting it from beaches as far off as Ireland and the Caribbean, and consumers are adding it to everything from smoothies to acai bowls and rice and beans.
It would be hard to identify one particular plant that has all the vitamins and minerals your body needs, but sea moss comes close. It contains more than 90% of the nutrients your body needs and can be used as a natural medicine to treat or reduce flu-like symptoms. This is why the small sea plant is often called "Nature's Multi-Vitamin."
What is Sea Moss and where does it come from?
Sea Moss, also known as Irish Moss, is a seaweed, is a macro-algae. It is sold in bunches that look just like the translucent yellow seaweed you'd find washing up on beaches along the Atlantic seaboard and the Caribbean. Sea moss comes from both organic harvesting and man-made pools, and where it's grown affects the composition of the plant and its health benefits. Vital Vegan believes that "wildcrafted" sea moss from the ocean is better, so they only harvest their sea moss from the Caribbean, specifically Jamaica.
Less than two centuries ago, sea moss was used as a health treatment of tuberculosis and pneumonia. It's also been used as a food to nourish people who worked in potato fields because it was an inexpensive source of nutrients. Because it was used by poor farmers, the seaweed was thought of as a "poverty food," and forgotten by health seekers, due to the negative association. Dr. Sebi, the well-known herbalist with the cult-like following, brought sea moss back to the attention of his followers and recommended it to his patients to treat chronic illnesses. Now mainstream, sea moss is available at health markets and online through companies that grow it in ocean pools and harvest it to sell.
Six Health Benefits of Sea Moss
Author and vegan herbalist Paul Otote explained the health benefits of sea moss and why this seaweed is considered a "powerhouse" food. The Beet listed his six reasons to eat sea moss, so you can fully understand why this nutrient-dense food is beneficial for overall health.
1. Sea Moss Contains Iron and Can Help You Have More Energy.
Sea moss is full of iron, which many plant-based eaters lack because it's commonly found in animal foods like meat, poultry, and seafood. Sea moss contains about 9 milligrams of iron per 100 grams, which means sea moss has 9 times more iron than chicken. When you're feeling fatigued or low energy, it may be because your iron levels are low, since iron helps your body create red blood cells to move oxygen from your lungs to your cells. On top of taking a healthy iron supplement, try adding sea moss in a gel form to your smoothies and see if you begin to notice the difference in your energy. If you have ever been diagnosed with mild anemia, sea moss could work to help your body get the iron you need.
2. Sea Moss Contains More Tha 90% of Nutrients Our Bodies Need.
The tiny spiral yellow seaweed is extremely nutrient-dense, it's almost like nature's multi-vitamin. Otote explains that "sea moss has 92 of the 110 minerals the body is made from," and he calls it the "powerhouse." Sea moss contains beta-carotene, vitamin B, vitamin C, and sulfur as well as minerals like magnesium, manganese, calcium, phosphorus, and zinc. All these contribute to healthy cell functioning in the body.
4. Sea Moss Promotes Healthy Weight Loss.
Sea Moss contains high levels of iodine, a mineral found in a limited amount of foods. Our bodies need this mineral in moderation to produce thyroid hormones. "These hormones control the body's metabolism and many other important functions. The body also needs thyroid hormones for proper bone and brain development during pregnancy and infancy," according to a study by the National Institute of Health. The key is to get the right amount, however, and not too much.
Sea Moss contains the vital thyroid hormone precurses that are important for healthy thyroid function and your body's metabolism. So if your thyroid is not functioning properly they can be beneficial and aid in weight loss. But before you use sea moss to boost thyroid hormones or as a weight-loss supplement, check with your doctor because you don't want to over-do these hormone precursors either. Moderation is the most important thing with thyroid function.
5. Sea Moss Can Help You Build Strong, Lean Muscles.
The seaweed is rich in protein with 6 grams of protein per 100 grams of sea moss. Specifically, it contains an amino acid called taurine, which helps the body burn fat and build muscle. "Taurine has the ability to make the body burn fat instead of carbs during cardio," Otote says.
6. Sea Moss Strengthens the Immune System and Helps to Prevent Sickness.
Sea Moss also helps the body fight back against everyday aging and inflammation, in what could be called "the anti's:" Anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral. It's used as a treatment to help prevent and relieve cold and flu-like symptoms, in powdered form. "It can be used to prevent colds but also help you heal and recover from sickness," Otote says. Sea moss contains potassium chloride, which helps the body reduce inflammation and people take it to lower their risk of infections because of its positive impact on the immune system. Otote sums it up as a no-lose additive: "Sea moss when you're ill is a win, and sea moss when you're healthy is a win, it's a win-win."
How To Use Sea Moss:
Sea moss can be taken in a gel liquid form to add to your smoothies, acai bowl, or even applied directly to your skin or hair as a brightening treatment. The seaweed can also be used as a baking subsite for eggs, which makes is an easy way to get minerals into your diet through baking so use sea moss when you bake cookies, cakes, and muffins. You can also use it as a roux or a thickening gel in grains like rice or quinoa, farro, or when making beans.
Where to Buy Sea Moss:
One company that caught our eye is Vital Vegan, Inc. which harvests sea moss from the shores of Jamaica and sells it as dried plants and powdered supplements or in gel form. Vital Vegan sells sea moss supplements and drinks. "Our goal is to put out a product in its most pure and natural form that will assimilate with the body," says the website. Vital Vegan Inc. harvests their own sea moss "from the pristine coastlines of Jamaica." Watch this video to learn about their harvest and how they use sea moss for healthy living.