Sea moss is considered the world's number one super food. Packed with 92 of the 102 minerals our body needs to survive, sea moss has been a longstanding ingredient in holistic medicine for years, and with good reason.
Still, it is important to know where sea moss is harvested from. They require warm waters and open ocean currents to grow and thrive. To find out exactly what sea moss is and where the best sea moss comes from, read on.
What is sea moss?
Sea moss is a general term to describe a variety of seaweed species. Some will even say it's an alga, but it always describes seaweed types. Even though the name has the word “moss” in it, these species are not considered mosses at all.
Out of the thousands of seaweed species in the ocean, two are often referred to as sea mosses. This includes the Genus Gracilaria and Chondrus Crispus. Whenever you see sea moss sold, it will likely be one of these two species. Of these two types, Genus Gracilaria is actual sea moss, while Chondrus Crispus is Irish Moss
These types are often mistaken for one another, despite being very different. Genus Gracilaria, the actual sea moss, is not found anywhere near Ireland. It requires warmer climates. For this reason, you will most likely find this species in the Caribbean, such as around Jamaica or St. Lucia.
This sea moss will typically have a red, yellow, or orange color, though some sea moss will be bluer and more purple. It is relatively normal to see a variety of colors in one strand of the seaweed.
Sea moss that is entirely purple or has large amounts of purples is often mistaken as Irish Moss. If it is taken from around the Caribbean area, it is most likely Jamaican purple sea moss.
Benefits of Sea Moss
Sea moss comes with several health benefits, thanks to its nutrient density. Though people often make outlandish claims based on anecdotal stories instead of scientific evidence, science has shown that sea moss does offer several health benefits.
Notably, studies have found that sea moss may be able to prevent Parkinson's disease. Parkinson's disease is a degenerative disease that affects movement, stiffness, and slowness of movement. Although there is no cure, early research is showing that sea moss slows its progression.
Additionally, studies are showing that sea moss improves immunity. In fact, it may even protect you from contracting salmonella. More research is needed to confirm whether or not sea moss can treat salmonella in humans, however.
Just as with everything else in life, sea moss does come with a few risks. Most notably, research has shown that you can consume too much of it. Because sea moss is a rich source of iodine, it can throw your thyroid hormones out of whack. If you have issues with your thyroid, you will need to consult your doctor before taking this supplement.
Supplement or Superfood?
With both the risks and benefits in mind, you may be wondering whether or not this is a supplement or a superfood. Generally, the nutrient density within sea moss allows it to be classified as a superfood, but it will be more helpful to use it as a supplement.
In other words, it is better to add it to a smoothie or some other food in a supplemental form. This allows you to monitor how much you put into your body, allowing you to maximize its benefits while minimizing its risks.
Where can you find sea moss?
Sea moss can actually be cultivated from many countries all around the globe. Some of the largest seaweed farming operations are located in Indonesia, China, Japan, the Caribbean, the Philippines, Korea, Brazil, and Thailand. These are only a few examples though. There are many more to be found.
As more research is being done on seaweed, seaweed farms are becoming more popular in different nations. For example, seaweed is often eaten for human consumption in Australia. As a result, the market drives the need for seaweed farms in that nation.
Most types of sea moss like warmer water with a lot of room to grow. As the desire for seaweed grows, more farms are being built. These farms give more people access to sea moss, but the sea moss will not be as nutrient dense as naturally developed sea moss.
Location of the Best Sea Moss
So, if sea moss can be harvested all around the globe, what is the best location for getting your sea moss? As we already mentioned, Genus Gracilaria, or sea moss, likes warm waters. For this reason, the best sea moss comes from the Caribbean region, specifically around Jamaica and St. Lucia. If you want the best sea moss, look for companies that gather their sea moss from these areas.
It is important to know that there are three ways to farm sea moss: pool farmed, ocean farmed, and wild crafted. Let's start with ocean farmed sea moss first. Ocean farmed sea moss grows in the natural sea. It isn't harvested or tampered with until it has fully grown. This allows the sea moss to be loaded with nutrients and health benefits.
Pool farmed sea moss, in comparison, will be grown on ropes that are placed in unnatural water. These samples will not have as many nutrients because they aren't exposed to the natural ecosystem, and they may be tampered with before they are finished growing.
The best method, in terms of nutrient density, is wildcrafting. Wildcrafting is whenever they sea moss is taken directly from the sea. Even though this method creates the most nutrient dense samples, it is unethical because it disrupts the natural ecosystem.
For this reason, the best sea moss is ocean farmed around St. Lucia. This technique will allow the sea moss to retain a large nutrient density without disrupting the earth's natural ecosystem. In other words, it gives you the nutrients you are looking for without stealing them from something else.
What Makes the Caribbean the Best?
So, the best sea moss comes from the Caribbean. Why is that? Well, the answer is pretty nuanced, but we will boil it down to some of the most important points.
The ocean surrounding the Caribbean is incredibly warm. Sea moss thrives in a warm environment. As a result, the warm water nourishes the seaweed, allowing it to grow and become nutrient dense in the natural waters.
Another reason why Caribbean sea moss is the best is because the waters have a natural current, but they aren't so rough as to destroy the seaweed. Areas of the oceans with intense currents are too strong, causing the seaweed to break up and not be suitable for harvesting.
In the Caribbean, however, the current is strong enough that it brings nutrients and movement to the seaweed, which is necessary for its growth, but it doesn't disrupt its lifespan in the process. This makes the currents of the Caribbean perfect for sea moss.
Finally, the Caribbean waters aren't as polluted as some other oceans, such as around India. Of course, pollution is increasing throughout the world, but it is less so within this region. This means that this sea moss is exposed to less chemicals and pollutants than others.
Is Wildcrafted Sea Moss That Bad?
As more people are noticing the benefits of seaweed, more and more unethical farming techniques have been developed. One of the most unethical forms, as we have already mentioned, is wildcrafted sea moss. Even though wildcrafted sea moss offers the most nutritional value, it comes at too high of a cost for the planet.
One reason that wildcrafted sea moss is so unethical is because it is taken away from a localized marine life. When this happens, the immediate habitat can suffer. Given that there are other options for us to farm sea moss, it seems incredibly unethical to rob the other marine life of this vital nutrient.
Wildcrafted sea moss isn't just unethical to the ocean, however. Many brands that claim their product is wildcrafted are actually lying. Many products with a “wildcrafted” label are simply farmed in ocean waters, but they are more expensive.
Plus, wildcrafted seaweed doesn't typically offer the same quality of safety. That's because wildcrafted sea moss does not have a lot of transparency about what conditions the seaweed was collected from. In other words, the seaweed could have been crafted from a toxic part of the ocean and you would be none the wiser.
From every perspective, wildcrafted sea moss is unethical and should be avoided. Even though it may be tempting to go with this option for its nutrient density, do not take away from the ocean and or rob yourself of a few extra dollars simply for this fact.
Sea moss is a specific type of seaweed that can improve your immunity and impact your overall health. The best sea moss is ocean farmed in the Caribbean, specifically around Jamaica or St. Lucia. These oceans and this farming technique ensure that the sea moss is nutrient dense, healthy, and ethical.