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What is a Seamoss? Benefits and Downsides

The seamoss is also called the Irish moss, and it is a type of red algae that is gathered for its carrageenan. Scientifically, it is called Chondrus cripus, and the seamoss is primarily located in waters where it grows along the rocky Atlantic coasts. It is a small seaweed that comes in a variety of colors, such as green, yellow, purple, red, brown, and black. The carrageenan is gelatinous in nature, and it helps in food thickening, such as in ice cream. 

History has it that seamoss was used as an ingredient of Chinese medicine. It was also used in the British Isles as a source of food. It was said to be nutritional, and later, it gained popularity as a food thickener and an emulsifier.

The seamoss has some potential health benefits for which it is harvested and taken as a supplement. It is rich in vitamins and minerals, and it also has low quantities of calories, fat, sugar as well as plant protein. Seamoss of 2-tablespoon serving contains the following:

  • 5 grams of calories
  • 1.2 grams of carbohydrates
  • 0 grams of cholesterol
  • 0.02 grams of fat
  • 0.13 grams of fiber
  • 0.2 grams of protein
  • 0.06 grams of sugar

Like all other sea vegetables, the seamoss provides iodine which is essential to the health of the thyroid. They are also full of antioxidants that help cells fight diseases caused by oxidative damage.

seamoss

What are the Benefits of the Seamoss?

Picture courtesy: boldsky

The seamoss is said to have several health benefits, but some of these health benefits have no strong scientific evidence. Claims about the potential health benefits of the seamoss were made popular when the celebrity Kim Kardashian made a post drinking a seamoss smoothie. Some of the research that has been carried out on seamoss was conducted on animals and not people. To check for these potential benefits, some other research was done on a close relative of the seamoss, which is the seaweed. Hence, more research needs to be done to find the particular effects of the seamoss. Some of these benefits are discussed below.   

  • Source of Minerals and Vitamins – Vitamins and minerals have been known to be good for an individual’s overall health. One way of getting the body’s needed supply of these vitamins and minerals is by taking the seamoss as a supplement. As supplements, the seamoss can be gotten as a gel, powder, capsule, or in its raw form. They contain nutrients such as vitamin B2, vitamin B12, calcium, zinc, and magnesium.
  • Source of Iodine – Seamoss contains high levels of iodine which aids in the production of thyroid hormones. These hormones help in the development of healthy brains and bones during pregnancy and infancy. Since iodine is recommended for the health of the thyroid, seamoss has been said to be good in supporting the health of the thyroid.
  • Promote Fertility – There are claims that seamoss can be taken to improve fertility in both men and women. This is because seamoss has been used by some individuals as a traditional treatment for fertility.
  • May Help Boost Immunity – Seamoss may have the potential to build the immunity of an individual. A study on a salmon eating seamoss was shown to have a healthier immune system than its counterparts. There has been no study to prove this in humans.
  • Supports a Healthy Gut – It has been reported that the bacteria and fiber found in seaweeds are good for a healthy gut microbiome. Thus, seamoss can be good for providing good bacteria for a healthy gut.
  • Weight Loss – In rats, a compound, fucoxanthin, was found to boost the metabolism of fats. This was discovered after some studies were done. Now, the fiber contained in the seaweed helps to prevent excess food intake. This aids an individual in maintaining and achieving a healthy weight by preventing overeating. 
  • The Health of the Heart – Fiber is a component considered to be good for the body, and since seaweed is rich in fiber, it is regarded as good food. Studies have been reported where seaweed helped decrease the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL), known as bad cholesterol. It was also found that it can act as a blood thinner, decreasing the chances of developing heart disease. This could imply that seamoss can help reduce bad cholesterol in the body.

What are the Downsides?

  1. Lack of Sufficient Research – Although the seamoss may have its benefits, but with little to no research done to confirm them, there is no proof of the potential benefits. The environment in which these sea vegetables grow determines their nutrient content. Since some of the research done has been on the seaweed, it becomes difficult to even ascertain the exact quantity of the nutrients in the seamoss.
  2. Insufficient Knowledge of the Iodine Content – Due to insufficient research on seamoss, the exact amount of iodine it contains is not known. This may lead to overconsumption of iodine which tends to cause negative effects on the thyroid gland. Located in the front of the neck, the thyroid gland controls the body’s metabolism. A negative effect that could occur is hypothyroidism. 
  3. Storage of Heavy Metals – As a result of its habitat, seaweed has been reported to absorb heavy metals. Since seamoss is a close relative to the seaweed, the same claim of heavy metal consumption is implied. When excess seamoss is consumed, individuals risk consuming and eventually storing heavy metals in their bodies in high quantities. There was a study done on seaweed from Europe and Asia. It revealed that no serious health risks were associated with the quantity of 20 heavy metals found in the seaweed.

The seamoss is a sea vegetable that contains a component called carrageenan for which it is harvested. It can serve as a food thickener, and it serves as a good health supplement. The seamoss is said to be rich in nutrients and, as such, contains several potential health benefits. Some research done on seaweed, a close relative of seamoss, shows that it can:

  • improve the immune system,
  • help with weight loss,
  • enhance the gut health,
  • improve the health of the heart, etc.

To confirm the exact nutritional composition and the health benefits of the seamoss, more research needs to be carried out on it.

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