Health & Wellness, Nutrition

The Health Food You Haven’t Heard About: 5 Incredible Irish Moss Benefits

If you haven’t heard of Irish moss, you aren’t alone. The truth is that most people haven’t heard of it or how it helps to support health—unless they’re familiar with raw foods. But there are many Irish moss benefits, from boosting your immune system to supporting both your skin and brain health!

A bonus? It’s virtually tasteless, meaning you can add it to a variety of foods to get its benefits without sacrificing the tastes of some of your favorite dishes. Pretty rare, right? So, let’s take a look at what Irish moss is, the many ways it benefits your health, and some of the best ways to get more of it into your diet.

 

What is Irish Moss?

Irish moss is a thick seaweed that grows on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. It’s a red algae commonly found on the shores of the British Isles, North America, Europe, and, as you may have guessed, Ireland.

It’s actually been harvested in Ireland for hundreds of years due to its therapeutic properties, though archaeologists believe humans have used it for thousands of years. [1] Irish moss benefits are due to the many nutrients it contains, such as vitamins A, E, F, and K along with potassium, iodine, calcium, and sulfur.

Now, it’s important to note that Irish moss is also known as carrageenen, which has recently been subject to negative coverage and controversy. In fact, certain studies have tied its consumption to the development of inflammation, irritable bowel disease (IBD), and stomach ulcers. [2]

But it’s important to note that carrageenen is actually a byproduct of Irish moss that has been subject to extensive heating and processing. And, as a result, it’s lost most of its nutritional value, along with its many health-promoting properties.

At this point, it’s typically used as a thickening agent in certain food products, such as ice cream, deli meat, milks, and frozen foods.

Luckily, when not subjected to high heat and processing, it’s a very nutritious addition to your diet. Let’s take a look at some of the top Irish moss benefits, and then we’ll discuss how you can use this incredible food as an ingredient in some of your favorite recipes!

The Top 5 Irish Moss Benefits

Here are five of the top Irish moss health benefits you can get from incorporating this food into your diet.

1. Contains many nutrients

As I mentioned above, Irish moss contains several nutrients such as vitamins A, E, F, and K along with potassium, calcium, and sulfur. It’s also notably rich in iodine. The nutrient profile of Irish moss is important because each of these nutrients are connected to the health of specific areas of your body.

For example, did you know that iodine is known to control thyroid function? Scientists have found that iodine impacts the response of your thyroid to the thyroid hormone thyrotropin (TSH).

As a result, they’ve also discovered that even small changes in iodine consumption are enough to reset your thyroid system at different serum TSH levels. [3]

Iodine can be difficult to obtain in sufficient amounts from foods, but Irish moss is an exception, making it a great source of iodine in your diet.

2. Boosts immunity

Irish moss benefits also include supporting the health and strength of your immune system. And it’s primarily thanks to its vitamin A content.

In fact, scientists have determined that adequate consumption of vitamin A is essential for maintaining a strong immune system. How? Well, studies have shown that a vitamin A deficiency blocks the normal regeneration of your mucosal barriers, which is known to impair your natural immunity to bacteria and viruses. [4]

Furthermore, studies have shown that consuming vitamin A can help to boost immune responses in children, the elderly, post-surgery patients, and even those with parasitic infections. [5]

3. Supports skin health

Not only does Irish moss contain over 90 minerals, many of which are known to support skin health, but it also contains a compound (citrulline-arginine) known for its anti-aging effects.

Specifically, Irish moss benefits the skin by increases skin energy levels, encouraging cell growth and metabolism, and protecting the skin. It’s also been found to promote collagen synthesis, which helps to protect the structural integrity of your skin. [6]

Meanwhile, other studies have shown that Irish moss contains antioxidant and photoprotective properties for the skin. [7]

4. Aids digestion

Not only does Irish moss contain a significant amount of fiber, but it’s also been shown to have prebioitic effects in animal studies.

According to a study published in 2015, rats who consumed Irish moss saw a 4.9-times increase in their beneficial gut bacteria. Additionally, the amount of bad bacteria (Clostridium septicum and Streptococcus pneumonia) in their guts decreased. [8] The scientists also noted overall improvements in their gut health and immunity.

5. May support brain health  

Finally, the last of the top Irish moss benefits focuses on the food’s ability to support brain health. Believe it or not, Irish moss has actually been found to have neuroprotective effects.

According to a 2015 study, an extract of Irish moss actually provided protection against Parkinson’s disease, the second most common neurodegenerative disease in the elderly population. Specifically, the scientists believed that this protection was attributed to its ability to help alleviate oxidative stress and supporting stress response genes. [9]

 

Irish moss benefits - Dr. Pingel

 

How to Use Irish Moss

So, now that you know all the ways Irish moss can benefit your health, you’re probably wondering how to eat it.

First, make sure you rinse it well to remove any salt and/or sand. Next, you’ll want to soak it in a covered bowl of cool water overnight. The following morning, give it one more good rinse before placing it in a blender with some water. Blend it to the consistency you’d like and store it in an airtight jar in the refrigerator for up to two to three days.

You can use it as needed to thicken smoothies, puddings, and other dishes. In fact, it’s commonly used in raw foods and desserts.

Looking for some fun ideas? Try out this Raw Pumpkin Cheesecake or this Irish Moss Drink that features nutmeg, cinnamon, and vanilla.

If you’re a chocolate lover like me, give this Chocolate Pudding a taste. Not into chocolate? Give this Peanut Punch a try—though it looks and sounds more like a milkshake than a punch.

Any of these recipes are sure to please, and it’s nice knowing you’re getting some amazing health benefits, too!

 

Key Takeaways

  • Irish moss is a thick seaweed that grows on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean that’s been harvested for hundreds of years due to is therapeutic properties.
  • Some of the top Irish moss health benefits you can get from incorporating this food into your diet include: containing many nutrients, boosting immunity, supporting skin health, aiding digestion, and supporting brain health.
  • Irish moss is commonly used in as a thickening agent in raw foods, such as smoothies, puddings, and desserts.

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