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What Are the Benefits of Sea Moss (and What Even Is It)? A Nutritionist Weighs In
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Sea moss (aka Irish moss) is a form of algae that has many purported benefits—we’ve heard that it might help stimulate proper thyroid function, boost the immune system, reduce inflammation and improve digestion. These claims have helped sea moss gain its current superfood status. Oh, and it doesn’t hurt that Kim Kardashian West posted on Twitter that she often adds it to smoothies. But is it really great for you or just a fad? Let’s get some more info.

What do we know about sea moss?

Like any over-the-counter supplement, sea moss isn’t regulated by the FDA in any of its forms (powder, gel or raw), and more studies need to be conducted in order to fully prove or refute its alleged powers. “We just don’t really know if it’s going to do everything some people claim it will,” says nutritionist Lisa Young, Ph.D. “There’s not enough research out there yet.”

But while we don’t know for sure if sea moss is going to make a noticeable difference to our health, Young adds that there’s no harm in trying it in small doses. “I imagine it’s concentrated as a supplement, so you don’t want to take too much,” she says. Instead of adding it to everything you’re eating or drinking, start by mixing one serving (1 teaspoon) into a smoothie and see if you feel any different…but more about that in a minute.

What are the benefits of integrating sea moss into my diet?

One study published in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies found that sea moss had a prebiotic effect on animals when consumed. It upped the number of fatty acids in the colon, which get rid of bad gut bacteria and, in turn, strengthen the body’s immune system.

We also know that sea moss has citrulline–arginine, a compound that stimulates the metabolism (which can help if you’re trying to lose weight) and synthesizes collagen to give you healthy, shiny hair and smooth skin. Another study published by the journal Marine Drugs found that sea moss’s anti-inflammatory powers also help protect the brain from diseases like Parkinson’s.

OK, I want to try sea moss. Are there any risks?

Two things to note when considering sea moss: It’s not recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, because no research has been conducted on how it interacts with a fetus or newborn’s system.

“If you’re taking medication for your thyroid, you have to be careful of your iodine intake,” Young adds. “Sea moss is rich in iodine, which is good for your thyroid, but if you’re already taking medication that has iodine in it, you could have way too much of a good thing here and it could negatively affect the gland.” Similarly, if you don’t need this type of medication, the iodine in sea moss might support your already healthy thyroid.

How do I work sea moss into my diet?

Sea moss comes in three forms: powdered, gel and raw. If you use it raw, the moss needs to be washed and soaked in water for at least 12 hours for it to rehydrate. Then toss your desired amount (we suggest about 2 tablespoons of raw, rehydrated sea moss) into a blender with your other smoothie ingredients and blend until smooth. Skip the rehydrating steps for sea moss in its powdered and gel forms, and don’t pour as much into your blender (1 teaspoon will do the trick) because it’s far more concentrated.

Raw Sea Moss: DualSpices Irish Sea Moss ($20 for 16 ounces at Amazon)

Sea Moss Powder: Starwest Botanicals Organic Irish Moss Powder ($26 for 1 pound at Amazon)

Sea Moss Gel: Get Wavy Organics 100% Organic Sea Moss Gel ($33 for 16 ounces at Amazon)

Before you start drinking sea moss smoothies every morning, remember that this is an ingredient that’s pulled straight from the sea, so it might taste a bit (read: very) fishy. Drown out its distinct taste with other strong flavors like banana and peanut butter or chocolate and strawberry—experiment until you find a combo you love.

RELATED: Mushroom Water Is Trending. But Is It Actually Good for You?

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