Sea plants have long been touted as a superfood for their nutrient-density and health benefits. The latest sea plant to hit the health scene is antioxidant, immune-boosting sea moss. Although sea moss may be a new trend, it is anything but new.
Archaeologists have found evidence of people using sea moss for a variety of reasons for over 14,000 years. It has been hand harvested off the coast of Ireland and Jamaica for centuries for its nutritional and health benefits.
What is Purple Sea Moss?
Sea moss, sometimes also called Irish moss, is a type of red or purple colored seaweed. The scientific name for this type of sea moss is Chondrus crispus.
Sea moss has been used as an inexpensive source of nutrients for many centuries. It was particularly critical for farmers during the Irish Potato Famine who used it to create a sustaining nutrient-rich drink. This drink is still consumed today in both Ireland and the Carribean.
One of the most valuable nutrients in sea moss is called carrageenan, a complex carbohydrate commonly used food thickener. In traditional Irish culture, carrageenan was believed to be able to cure the common cold and flu, leading the Irish to add it to many foods and beverages. It is a primary ingredient in traditional Irish pudding and is still widely used in many recipes in Ireland.
Today, sea moss continues to be harvested for its carrageenan. It is used to thicken products like ice cream, chocolate milk, and protein shakes. It is important to mention that carrageenan has come under fire recently, accused of causing digestive issues and inflammation. But, there are two types of carrageenan, food grade and degraded.
Food grade carrageenan has been found to be safe for consumption. Whereas poligeenan, the degraded version does have some toxicity concerns. Sea moss contains food grade carrageenan.
The purple sea moss benefits go beyond just being used as a food thickener. It is rich in many minerals and anti-inflammatory compounds. Research is just starting to evaluate this nutrient-dense sea plant for all it could possibly do for human health.
Purple Sea Moss Health Benefits
Although sea moss has been used for centuries, recent interest in its health benefits were revitalized by Dr. Sebi a popular celebrity herbalist. With its growing popularity, scientists are beginning to evaluate some of the possible purple moss benefits. Here are a few of the research highlights we have discovered so far:
- Rich in nutrients. Purple sea moss is rich in many important nutrients, including folate, iodine, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and phosphorus.
- Source of healthy fats. The Western diet is notoriously low in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Sea moss provides a much needed source of these essential fats to your diet.
- Source of vegan protein. Sea moss contains all nine essential amino acids. Purple sea moss is 47% protein in dry weight and can be used as an additional protein source in all diets, but particularly for those that eat plant-based.
- Loaded with bioactive compounds. Certain chemical compounds found in purple sea moss may have health benefits, particularly related to decreasing inflammation and supporting immune health. Further research is needed to evaluate these powerful ingredients.
- Supports skin health. Sea moss is rich in sulfur, a mineral known to soothe and heal skin. It also contains vitamins E, A, and K which can help nourish skin.
- Enhances gut health. One of the sea moss benefits is that it is a prebiotic, or a type of fiber that helps feed the healthy bacteria in your gut. A healthy digestive system is the foundation of long-term health.
- Supports immune function. Animal studies have found that purple sea moss has antibacterial properties that may induce a protective immune response against viruses and bacteria in the digestive system.
- Protects cognitive function. A 2015 study found that purple sea moss may have neuroprotective effects and should be further evaluated as a possible treatment for cognitive decline.
- Supports heart health. The bioactive compounds in sea moss have been found to help regulate blood pressure and may have protective effects for the heart.
- Demonstrates potential as an anti-cancer agent. Carrageenan has been found to have anti-cancer activity, although further research is needed to determine exactly how it can be utilized for this purpose.
- May reduce allergies. A 2006 study found that regular seaweed intake was associated with a decreased prevalence of allergies. This particular study did not evaluate purple sea moss specifically, but the overall nutrient composition is likely similar.
How to Use Purple Sea Moss
Sea moss can be added to your diet or beauty routine in a variety of ways. It can be used to enhance personal care products, such as sea moss enriched soaps or lotions. These types of products are designed to nourish and heal the skin.
There are many ways to add sea moss to your diet as well. It can be consumed internally as a powder, gel, or capsule. Some choose to add raw sea moss or gel to smoothies or juices, whereas others prefer to take it as a dietary supplement.
It is important to note that the research about its benefits or side effects is still emerging. Sea moss is rich in iodine, an important mineral that can be overconsumed, particularly for those with thyroid concerns. There is currently no research available to support its safety for pregnant or lactating women or interactions with specific medications. As with any dietary supplement, always ask your doctor to evaluate what’s best for you.
As we have discovered here at Bey Moss, the possible Jamaican purple sea moss benefits are only just emerging. As with many traditional ingredients, science takes a long time to catch up to what we have known for centuries. Our customer testimonials and our own story demonstrate the benefits of this powerful sea plant.
Want to learn more about the benefits of purple sea moss? Check out the “Learn” section of our site. Also, be sure to follow along and connect with our community of purple sea moss lovers on Instagram.
Ana Reisdorf, MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and freelance writer with 13-years of experience in the field of nutrition and dietetics. Through her writing she demonstrates her passion for helping people achieve ideal health and make transformational changes in their lives.