If you have bought coconut milk or almond from the store, you may have realized that it contains an ingredient known as carrageenan. This is a little food additive that is added to a broad range of processed foods. According to food science matters carrageenan, there is a lot of confusion as far as the use of this ingredient is concerned.
What is carrageenan?
It is a member of the family of sulfated polysaccharides. They are extracted from the red edible seaweeds. Nowadays, they have a lot of applications in food processing industry being used for thickening, gelling, and stabilizing.
Is there a problem?
Carrageenan does not have nutritional value, and it is not digestible. In fact, it is mainly used in emulsifying and thickening products. You will find it even in natural and organic products. You will be surprised that a simple ingredient obtained from seaweed is non-menacing. My wish it should be.
There are two major forms of carrageenan: undegraded and degraded carrageenan. Ideally, degraded is not approved for use in food processing whereas undegraded is. Degraded carrageen or poligeenan as it is commonly known has been found in some food products. In fact, poligeenan has been attributed to increased intestinal irritation, colon ulcers, and leaky gut. Some studies have shown an increase in cell arrest and inflammation.
Carrageen may not be bad as several sources portray it. However, there is some evidence that it can be harmful if you consume it on a regular basis. Some people have reported negative symptoms such as skin rashes, digestive troubles, and other serious health problems.
Where is it found?
If you like reading product labels and ingredient lists, you will discover that several products contain carrageenan. In fact, the majority of the infant formulas do, and most of the processed milk alternatives. In fact, the majority of dairy products contain carrageenan. There is a need to carry out extensive research on carrageenan. This is because the past research is just based on laboratory studies on tissues, cells, and lab animals. To find out whether this ingredient has any health benefits, research should be done on human beings under controlled conditions.
According to some sources, carrageenan is safe to eat as long as you extract it from the food grade seaweed. The seaweed should be tested to be free from pollution and contain healthy fiber and protein. You are likely to find it in several processed foods.