Getting the right nutrients is key to better health. For many, that means seeking out “superfoods” such as kale, blueberries and spinach. It may be time to add Irish Moss to that list! Learn the facts and health benefits about Irish Moss you never knew.
What is Irish Moss?
Irish Moss is actually not a “moss,” but is a part of the seaweed family. It is a “red seaweed” and it comes from Ireland, hence its name, and is mostly used in soups as a thickening agent to aid the sick and malnourished. It’s sourced from the Chondrus crispus species, and is also grown in Great Britain, and the eastern coastline of the U.S. and Canada, as well as Iceland. Gracilaria is another type of red seaweed often referred to as “Irish Moss” and grows best in warmer ocean environments. During the Irish famine in the mid 1800’s, seaweed was widely eaten due to the ease of harvesting it, and because of its nutritional value.
Chondrus crispus or gracilaria can become somewhat gelatinous in water, and wouldn’t be a seaweed you would necessarily eat, unlike dulse or nori. It even has a tough and rubber-like texture that can be inedible. While it’s mostly eaten when boiled and added to soups as a thickener, it can also be a good vegan substitute to gelatin due to its similarities in texture.
Is It Nutritious?
Irish Moss contains minerals and vitamins, including calcium, folate, iodine, iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium and sulfur. While many seaweeds contain considerable amounts of iodine, Irish Moss contains a lesser amount than other seaweeds, such as kelp and bladderwrack. It can also be an energy source, which releases slowly over time to help maintain energy levels throughout the day. It’s actually quite an amazing food!
About 55% of Irish Moss’ make up is carrageenan, which is what gives it it’s rubbery texture. Carrageenan extract is a food additive that has been used in the commercial food industry for decades, and can be found in yogurts, ice cream and milk to enhance the texture of these products. It can be used as a stabilizer in foods, and can also be found in cosmetics, pesticides and toothpaste.
What is the Difference Between Irish Moss Carrageenan and Carrageenan Extract?
Carrageenan extract is chemically processed, whereas Irish Moss carrageenan is natural. Because carrageenan extract is a processed food, it loses its natural nutrients, therefore is not the same as Irish Moss carrageenan. During the process of manufacturing carrageenan extract, cellulose is removed, and what’s added is 5% – 8% potassium.
What Other Health Benefits Does Irish Moss Have?
There are many health benefits of Irish Moss, including:
- It’s antioxidant rich
- It has anti-viral properties
- It’s a good source of iodine
- It contains 15 of the 18 essential nutrients that make up our bodies
As previously mentioned, Irish Moss can be found in cosmetics and can be soothing to the skin. It’s the sulfur that can be comforting to the skin, as well as the carrageenan that’s present. Not only can it have health benefits in cosmetics, but consuming it can hydrate and moisturize the skin from the inside out. It’s a win/win for the skin!
It can also be used as an anti-inflammatory for the joints, and it used by athletes to reduce swelling. Yet again, it’s the sulfur that acts a protector of the joints to prevent against infectious organisms. It’s really an amazing superfood!
Since Irish Moss is such a superfood, it makes sense that high quality, whole food seaweed supplements would contain Irish Moss. With the busy lives we lead today, cooking seaweed is likely not a feasible proposition for most of us, between finding it and knowing how to cook it. That’s why a seaweed supplement with Irish Moss can be the ideal solution for getting this healthy plant into your diet. When shopping for a supplement, check the label for Irish Moss to get this superfood into your healthy diet.