Moss might be the next big thing in the health food industry.
Turns out, the fuzzy green plants that grow on trees may be good for your gut, according to new research published in the journal The Plant Cell.
A new complex carbohydrate that might be beneficial for human gut health was recently discovered in moss by researchers at the University of Rhode Island and Australia’s ARC Centre of Excellence in Plant Cell Walls.
The carb is a polysaccharide that closely resembles another that’s typically found in oats and healthy cereals.
“What we found was a new polysaccharide made up of the sugars glucose and arabinose,” Rachel Burton, the study’s lead author, says. “We have called it arabinoglucan and believe the way the two different sugars link together will make it structurally similar to beta glucan” — a beneficial dietary fiber.
“We are not advocating eating moss,” Burton says. “We are simply saying that there is great potential for this new polysaccharide as we’ve seen with others.”
Though the function of this new carb isn’t yet known, its properties suggest that mosses can at least be used in health supplements and perhaps in some of the other ways that plants are utilized by people — such as raw materials like paper.
“This discovery leads to the question,” Burton says, “How many other polysaccharides do plants contain that we don’t yet know about?”