When people think of superfoods, sea moss, seaweeds and sea vegetables usually aren’t the first choice that comes to mind. Yet seaweeds are amazingly nutrient dense and contain a load of compounds that help to support our health. The problem is, most of us don’t know what to do with them and how to use them in day-to-day cooking. That’s why we created this Guide to Sea Moss, Seaweeds and Sea Vegetables to help you learn how to use this incredible array of tasty ingredients. Once you get on the seaweed train, you’re on it for life!
Seaweeds are categorized into a few main groups, based on colour:
- Green seaweed: Can be anywhere from dull to bright and are rich in chlorophyll, otherwise known as the blood of plants (you’ll also find it in dark leafy greens and other green veggies).
- Red seaweed: Can be anywhere from reddish to purplish and are especially high in carotenoids, which are known to be anti-inflammatory.
- Brown seaweed: Not the most attractive, but brown seaweeds are incredible sources of iodine.
Health Benefits of Sea Moss, Seaweeds and Sea Vegetables
Sea moss and seaweeds are rich in an array of nutritious qualities. They are:
- High in iodine, which is crucial for the thyroid and hormonal health.
- Rich in chlorophyll, which can help nourish our red blood cells, cleanse and detoxify, and can help prevent cancer, too.
- High in iron, an important mineral for energy production.
- A source of antioxidants like Vitamin C, which helps with iron absorption and is great for immunity.
- A good source of protein.
- Highly anti-inflammatory.
- High in B vitamins for energy and stress relief.
- Good for the skin, and help enhance collagen production.
- Helpful for managing blood sugar control and blood sugar balance.
- A source of prebiotics, which supports the digestive tract and the gut microbiome.
- Rich in polysaccharides called fucoidans that have anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting and cancer-fighting properties.
- A source of compounds that have anti-cancer effects in human breast cancer and colon cancer.
- Naturally salty, making them a great alternative to table salt.
Is Sea Moss and Irish Moss the same thing?
Sea moss is a broad term used for many different types of seaweed. It can get confusing these days because many individuals (and companies) use the terms ‘sea moss’ and ‘Irish moss’ interchangeably, but they’re actually not the same thing.
Irish moss’s Latin name is Chondrus crispus. It grows in cool waters off the coast of Ireland, Britain, Canada and Northeastern US. It was nicknamed Irish moss after the Irish Potato Famine in the mid-1800s, when Irish citizens desperately ate Chondrus crispus as a survival food when almost nothing else was available.
Another popular type of sea moss is genus Gracilaria, which thrives in warm waters around the world including the Caribbean, South America, Asia and Africa.
True Irish moss is rarer because it has a shorter growing season, making it more expensive than Gracilaria, which can thrive all year long.
Health Benefits of Sea Moss and Irish Moss
Sea moss and Irish moss have the same benefits mentioned above; however, sea moss has a wonderful mucilaginous property compared to other seaweeds. When prepared into a gel, sea moss is soothing to the digestive tract and works beautifully as a thickener in all kinds of recipes.
You’ll find sea moss in powdered and capsule form; we like to purchase the seaweed whole and prepare it ourselves.
How to Prepare Sea Moss Gel
- Soak your sea moss for an hour or two.
- Drain and rinse in a sieve or colander to remove any dirt or debris.
- Put the sea moss into a pot with enough water to cover it.
- Cook covered over medium heat for 10-15 minutes.
- Once the pot has cooled, put the moss and it’s cooking water into a blender and blend until smooth.
- Store in a sealed jar in the fridge. The gel will thicken as it chills.
How to Use Sea Moss
Use your sea moss gel in a wide variety of recipes! Toss a tablespoon or two into:
- Dairy-free ice cream
- Gluten-free baked goods like cookies, breads, crackers, muffins and cakes
- Hot chocolate (and other chocolate recipes)
- Nut and seed milk
- Dairy-free cheesecake
- Dips and spreads
Seaweed and Sea Moss Sourcing Tips
- You’ll find seaweed dried in large whole pieces/strands, ground into flakes or powder, or transformed into noodles.
- Given the water pollution in our oceans and the fact that sea vegetables can absorb this pollution, be mindful of where seaweed comes from. Some seaweed is wild harvested and others are farmed – check in with the company you are purchasing from to ensure their seaweed production or collection is sustainable.
- The Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program has a full report on farmed seaweed as a resource. The Ocean Wise program also has some information about farmed and wild seaweed.
Seaweed and sea Vegetable Recipes
Note: Seaweeds and sea vegetables have a flavour and scent that is ‘of the sea’. Some people find seaweeds fishier tasting than others. However, sea moss and seaweeds also have an umami taste that adds a unique, rich and delicious flavour to recipes.
*Download printable for the guide to seaweed flavour profiles and best uses.*
Nori: Spicy Sunflower Nori Crackers
Arame: Lemongrass and Arame Scrambled Tofu
Wakame: Cucumber Wakame Salad
Agar Agar: Vegan Gummy Fruit Snacks
Kelp: Keto Chicken Lo Mein
Dulse: Coconut Dulse Ramen
Kombu: 5 Ingredient Vegan Fish Sauce
Irish Moss or Gracilaria: Sea Moss Drink
Hijiki: Hijiki Tofu Patties
Which seaweed or sea vegetable will you try next? Get to know the different flavour profiles of the variety of seaweeds, and what they’re best used for, in our Guide to Seaweeds!