Carrageenan is one of the additives used in emulsifying, thickening and preserving drinks and foods. It is a natural ingredient which is obtained from red seaweed. You can find carrageenan in meat products, yoghurt, and nut milks. It is a product which has been surrounded by many controversies since the early 1960s. For instance,carrageenan is believed to trigger gastrointestinal ulcerations, inflammation and damaging the digestive system. This is the main reason why you find some warning labels on its products.
Side Effects and Dangers of Carrageenan
Some of the carrageenan products have specific side effects even if they are labelled as “natural.” It can cause or promote:
- Colon cancer
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Food allergies
- Glucose intolerance
It is also known for increasing the risks of certain diseases including tendonitis, arthritis, inflammatory bowel diseases, and gallbladder inflammation or chronic cholecystitis. Degraded carrageenan is associated with certain cancer- it is carcinogenic. It can also induce inflammation in animals.
Is Carrageenan Safe for Consumption?
Consumption of this product is not liked to digestive issues. However, you are advised to limit the amount of carrageen that you consume. It is helpful in improving the texture and taste of low-sugar, low sodium and low fat foods. It was removed from the approved list of the National Organic Standard Board in 2016. Its foods are no longer labeled as USDA organic.
Its Main Uses
It is used for treating coughs, bronchitis, intestinal problems, and tuberculosis. In manufacturing, this product is used as a thickening agent, stabilizer and as a binder in toothpaste, foods, and mediations. Additionally, there is another form of carrageenan that is used by the French in treating ulcers. It has certain chemicals that decrease intestinal and stomach secretions. It is also helpful in decreasing swelling and pain. Again, there are some weight loss products contain this ingredient.
Foods That Contain Carrageenan
The common source of this ingredient includes almond milk, rice milk, soy milk, cream, chocolate milk, ice cream, deli meats, creamers, dietary alternatives, cottage cheese and hemp milk. Manufacturers have been using this product to replace gelatin.
Gelatin is obtained from animal parts. This product does not have nutritional value. This means that you will not miss anything for removing food containing it. It is possible to find replacements for vegan foods that don’t have this ingredient. It is natural for carrageenan-free milks to separate. It should be shaken well before pouring to prevent it from separating.