Home News Is the Secret to Good Health Just a Spoonful of Sea Moss?

Is the Secret to Good Health Just a Spoonful of Sea Moss?

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TikTok videos show influencers wince as they scoop spoonfuls out of jars filled with what appears to be slime-like material, sometimes pale green or yellow and sometimes deep red in hue. Some wrinkle their noses and grimace when swallowing a dollop; others sniff their spoons, smiling into the camera. “It kind of smells like ocean water,” one woman claimed before taking another bite before covering her mouth to appear to gag and blink away tears before declaring “it’s really good”. She said flatly but unconvincingly: “I’m going to do this every day.”

sea moss gel
sea moss gel

There have been a growing number of advocates online touting the health benefits of sea moss an edible sea vegetable belonging to the algae family that contains numerous essential vitamins and minerals including folate, vitamin K, vitamin B6, iron iodine magnesium zinc calcium.

Though this plant can be eaten raw or as a supplement – such as pills, powders or gummies – its most popular form is in gel form, created by soaking dried plant material in water before blending and placing in the fridge to solidify into a gel-like substance. Some claim that just one scoop a day can heal their gut, clear their skin, regulate menstruation cycle periods, strengthen immunity or aid weight loss; yet is such claims scientifically sound?

Here’s everything you should know before slurping down a spoonful of frozen yogurt.

What Is Sea Moss?

Sea moss is an aquatic plant with frilly edges resembling frisee lettuce when in the ocean. It thrives along Atlantic coastlines between North America and Europe as well as tropical waters of Asia, South America, Africa and parts of the Caribbean; when dried it resembles cooked ramen noodles with long tendrils that clump together like cooked noodles; food manufacturers harvest sea moss for its carrageenan content as a thickener for foods such as ice cream, chocolate milk or creamers.

But because it contains so much nutrition, people may ingest it with the intention of improving their health — stirring the gel into smoothies or puddings or simply snacking directly out of its jar.

Raw sea moss may taste similar to oyster or clam, which could prove off-putting to some, according to Brooke Levine, dietitian nutritionist of NYU Langone Health.

How did sea moss become such a beloved substance?

Sea moss has received numerous celebrity endorsements on social media in recent years. Kim Kardashian shared on Twitter in 2020 that she included sea moss smoothies as part of her diet; Erewhon Market in Los Angeles offered “Hailey Bieber’s Strawberry Glaze Skin Smoothie”, complete with sea moss gel. In 2019, Meek Mill speculated online whether sea moss made him smarter; later that same year former Disney Channel actress Skai Jackson claimed she consumed sea moss every single day.

Sea moss gained widespread attention last fall when fans of the plant posted panicked social media updates claiming that the Food and Drug Administration would ban all sea moss products due to unproven health claims made about them. While warning letters have already been issued against manufacturers of sea moss-containing products (including one company claiming its product could prevent or treat Covid-19), such posts about banning turned out to be false alarms; nonetheless, their passionate reactions demonstrated just how passionate a following the plant had garnered.

Are the health benefits of sea moss real?

Sea moss in gel or other forms is an easy and low-calorie way to add nutrients to your diet, according to Dr. Melinda Ring of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine’s Osher Center for Integrative Health. She noted how sea moss contains antioxidants which fight free radicals that damage cells as well as large quantities of potassium which helps support muscle contraction and blood pressure control.

While nutrition experts suggest sea moss’ nutrients could offer some health advantages, the hype surrounding its use may be overstated, according to Dr. Ring. “Like other superfoods that have come and gone before this one, there may be something true behind the hype,” she noted. However, “it shouldn’t be seen as some magical solution that everyone needs to consume regularly.

Ms. Levine reported that no clinical trials have investigated whether sea moss can benefit humans; however, seaweed research in general is well established: It contains many of the same vitamins and minerals found in sea moss; additionally some studies indicate certain omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins D/B12 found in some types of seaweed can strengthen immunity systems.

But without solid data on sea moss itself, Dr. Ring noted, its health benefits remain uncertain.

Ms. Levine noted that if you follow a balanced diet, most likely already receiving many of the nutrients found in sea moss gel. If not, she stressed, then eating sea moss won’t mitigate poor nutrition choices; eating more sea moss wouldn’t make up for unhealthy choices like overeating fast food like Big Mac.

Mary Ellen DiPaola, senior outpatient dietitian of University of California San Francisco stated that for an equivalent source of B vitamins and zinc intake, several rolls of sushi containing seaweed may provide more. You could also obtain many of these benefits by eating leafy greens like kale, arugula or Swiss chard instead, according to Mary Ellen DiPaola.

Kristin Kirkpatrick, a dietitian at Cleveland Clinic agreed. When patients come in and say, ‘I saw this on TikTok and am thinking about taking it,’ Kristin replied that this was great news: how about eating more broccoli instead.

Can sea moss help with weight loss?

Contrary to what many may believe online, sea moss won’t suddenly speed up your metabolism, said Ms. Kirkpatrick. But it does contain plenty of prebiotic fiber – food for good bacteria in your gut that help regulate digestive health – which may help improve it overall.

Sea moss gel could theoretically aid weight loss due to its sticky consistency that keeps us feeling full for longer, said Dr. Ring; however, no guarantees can be given in terms of its efficacy.

Can sea moss help prevent illness?

Dr. Ring noted that sea moss contains numerous essential vitamins and minerals — like B vitamins and zinc — which could potentially support immune health; however, without data or clinical trials to back this claim up there’s no proof that sea moss can prevent or treat any illness or disease.

Are there any potential dangers associated with eating sea moss?

Sea moss contains high concentrations of iodine, which could potentially harm your thyroid if consumed in large doses, according to Dr. Ring. If you want to experiment with sea moss for yourself, she recommends no more than two tablespoons at once and taking it every other day rather than everyday.

Like seaweed, sea moss may contain trace amounts of heavy metals like aluminum or cadmium depending on where it grows; so be wary not to overdo it when eating sea moss, warned Dr. Ring.

If you are taking sea moss supplements in supplement form, keep in mind that the F.D.A does not strictly regulate them; thus making it impossible to ensure 100% that what is stated online or on packaging matches up exactly with what’s inside the product.

Are we paying too much for sea moss?

A bag of dried plant material to use when creating sea moss gel at home can be expensive; sellers on Amazon list it at between $20 per pound and $80 per pound, while 16-ounce jugs of premade gel may cost anywhere between $15 to $60 on average.

If the expense is justified, swallowing a spoonful of sea moss shouldn’t pose any significant health or body benefits, according to experts. But do expect no miracle cure.

“No single food can solve our nutritional woes,” Ms. Kirkpatrick noted, noting it’s always about finding balance across a combination of factors.

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