In the name of journalism, I find myself researching beauty tips in Vogue France from time to time. (Someone’s gotta!) The way French women have been talking about la rentrée has been particularly inspiring. They take going back to work, arts, literature, and society in fall a lot more seriously than we do! One of these articles raved about a superfood tendance (trend) that I wasn’t really familiar with: Irish moss.
Irish moss, also known as sea moss, is a red algae found off the coast of Ireland, Africa, and Jamaica. Internally, Irish moss helps with cellular regeneration, healthy blood cells, and tissue formation. Since the 1800s, the Irish have been using Irish moss as medicine and as nutritional supplement during famines. In Jamaica, Irish moss has also been used to treat illnesses and as a tasty, sweet drink (more on that below). So what are the benefits of Irish moss, exactly?
Rare vegan source of EPA
It’s one of rare sources of vegan EPA, an omega-3 fatty acid that is usually only found in fish and shellfish. (Most commonly found vegan omega-3 sources, like flaxseeds, contain ALAs, which must be consumed in large quantities in order to have the same effects.) EPAs block cellular inflammation by inhibiting arachidonic acid. Also, studies have shown that EPA is more effective than DHA (another omega-3 that is prevalent in fish) in fighting depression, ADHD, and brain trauma. Indeed, a study shows that Irish moss may even protect your brain from degeneration and Parkinson’s disease. Whew—who wants a nice helping of Irish moss to protect their brains, right now?
Vitamins & Minerals
Irish moss also contains a wealth of minerals, such as magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, vitamins A, C, and K. It is also rich in energy-boosting B vitamins: riboflavin (B2) and folate (B9). Each of these nutrients play multiple and co-active roles in our body—but to simplify, you can expect increased immunity, increased energy, improved mood, faster healing, balanced hormones, and more benefits.
Irish moss has a gelatinous texture similar to aloe, which together with its myriad skin-loving nutrients, makes it an ideal all-natural mask. Vogue notes that it’s effective for acne, acne scars, premature aging, and hyperpigmentation, and it’s also used for eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, and even burns. Research also shows that citrulline-arginine, a compound in Irish moss, helps cell growth and collagen synthesis.
How to use Irish moss
Just like aloe, you’ll be able to find Irish moss in raw or gel form. If you buy raw Irish moss, wash and clean thoroughly, soak it in water for about a day, and then blend to turn it into a gel. Irish moss is fairly bland, and can work as a plant-based gelatin substitute in many recipes. Try making a pudding with cacao powder, plant syrup of choice, and dates. Add to smoothies, juices, soups, sauces, and more.
You can also make the traditional Jamaican drink, substituting the condensed milk with plant milk. You’ll need whole Irish moss, ground flaxseeds, plant milk, dates, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg (see the full recipe here). (I used to see this drink made by a local health store when I lived in New York, and now I see why!)
Have you tried Irish moss?
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Photo: Marco Testi via Unsplash; Saad Chadhury via Unsplash