Chondrus Crispus (Irish Moss): What’s Real and What’s Fake?
Read the ingredients in most ice creams, jelly, pudding, or most dairy products and you’ll probably see the ingredient carrageenan listed. Carrageenan is another name for Chondrus crispus, or in layman terms, Irish moss. But despite its name, Irish moss (or carrageenan and Chondrus crispus) isn’t a moss at all. It’s a type of algae, or seaweed, found along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean in Europe and North America. The red, branching sea plant is mostly made of what is called carrageenan, a jelly-like substance that is used in many foods as an emulsifier.
But besides acting as a vegan alternative to gluten, Irish moss has several health benefits. However, due to lack of regulations, it’s sometimes difficult to know whether you are getting Irish moss or other types of sea moss when you purchase it from a retailer. Keep reading to learn about the many health benefits of Irish moss and how you can be sure you are getting the real thing.
What Are the Health Benefits of Irish Moss?
Irish moss, like all seaweeds, is rich in Iodine, an important nutrient that regulates your thyroid. It’s also a major source of omega-3 fatty acids, which have been proven to be especially beneficial to your brain and heart health. People who consume more omega-3s have a lower risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Other health benefits of Irish moss include lowering your blood sugar and decreasing your risk of cancers.
Irish moss contains a carotenoid called fucoxanthin that has been shown to help regulate blood sugar levels. For people with diabetes, eating Irish moss may help to control blood sugar spikes. Fucoxanthin also acts as an antioxidant that fights off free radicals. Free radicals damage cells, which can later lead to cancer. By eating more Irish moss, you may be able to reduce your risk of certain cancers.
How Can You Tell the Difference Between Real Irish Moss and Other Seaweeds?
Sea mosses are types of red seaweed, or algae, and not a true moss at all. They are called sea moss for the way they grow over rocks in a carpet-like fashion. Sea mosses have a frilly, branching appearance and are generally reddish-brown in color. The difference between Irish sea moss and other sea mosses is where it’s grown. Irish sea moss grows in cooler water and is naturally found along the North Atlantic coastlines. It grows especially abundant in Britain and Ireland, hence the name Irish sea moss.
There are several types of sea moss that closely resemble Irish sea moss. These types of sea mosses are often falsely marketed as Irish moss. Many of these sea mosses are grown in the tropics of Jamaica or Latin America and are entirely different species of sea moss. However, it can be difficult to tell these sea mosses apart, especially when they are ground up and packaged. When Irish moss is whole, it has more fanlike fronds whereas tropical sea moss has slenderer, finger-like fronds. Tropical sea moss is also paler than Irish moss. It’s more straw colored while Irish moss tends to have a reddish-brown or even purple color to it. However, this can sometimes be difficult to distinguish when Irish moss is ground up for supplement or dietary use.
How Do You Know What You’re Getting in the Store?
In truth, you don’t always know what you’re getting when you buy sea moss in the store or order it online. Many companies will falsely advertise their products, either knowingly or unknowingly, as Irish sea moss when it’s a different type of sea moss entirely. As a consumer, you need to do your research on health food brands that are reputable to ensure you are getting what you pay for. This is especially true when buying supplements as the supplement industry doesn’t have the same federal regulations as other types of food products.
The only way you can ensure you are getting quality ingredients and supplements is to purchase from a trusted brand. Visit the brand’s website and learn about their story. Make sure they are committed to their customers and stand behind their products and testimonies. Untrustworthy brands may make exaggerated claims with no basis to back them up. A reputable brand will be transparent about their ingredients and manufacturing processes. If a company is evasive about their ingredient sourcing or features vague product labeling, it could be a red flag. Reputable companies will have no problem providing that information to their customers. To ensure your own safety, choose a company that cares about you.
Ancient Bliss Sea Moss is 100% organic, wild crafted Sea Moss sourced in the Caribbean. We don't use any additives or fillers and are GMP certified, meaning we test for heavy metals. You can find our products here or on amazon.