Carrageenan is food additive found in ice cream, condensed milk, beer, soy milk, yogurt, dairy products, beverages, processed foods and many other marketed food items. When added to food it thicken, emulsify, and preserve it. It is natural product but as you know all natural products are not safe for consumption.
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Carrageenan is derived from certain species of edible red seaweeds of the class Rhodophyceae, by heating and converting into a gel. When added to food it thickens and stabilizes processed food. It got its name from Chondrus crispus species of seaweed known as Carrageen Moss or Irish Moss in England, and Carraigin in Ireland. It grows along the coasts of North America and Europe. Philippines is its largest producer.
Carrageenan is a natural carbohydrate or gel-forming and viscosifying polysaccharides used as emulsifying, gelling, thickening, and stabilizing agent in ice cream, chocolate milk, sherbet, jam, jelly, cheese spread, dressings, crackers, pastries, custard, evaporated milk, whipped cream, infant formula, soy milk and yoghurt
Carrageenan is also used in experimental medicine, pharmaceutical formulations, cosmetics, and industrial applications. When used in food products, it is written as E407 (E Number) or E407a. E407a has a slightly different composition.
Carrageenan is added in which foods
Carrageenan is a common food additive extracted from red seaweed and is often found in chocolate milk, among other processed foods and beverages. It does not add nutrition or flavor to the food but acts as a substitute for fat, and as a thickener of nonfat or low-fat foods or dairy replacements.
- Cheese spread
- Chocolate milk
- Cottage cheese
- Evaporated milk
- Ice cream
- Pressurized whipped cream
- Almond milk
- Coconut milk
- Hemp milk
- Infant formula
- Soy desserts
- Soy milk
- Soy pudding
- Prepared chicken
- Sliced turkey
- Canned soup
- Frozen pizza etc.
- Microwaveable food items
- Sherbet, jam, jelly
Dangers and Side Effects of Carrageenan
Carrageenan is harmful in many ways. It can trigger immune system. Carrageenan exposure clearly causes inflammation and chronic inflammation is bad thing. Chronic inflammation can result in many serious diseases including heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and cancer. Therefore, avoid eating processed food.
Carrageenan May cause allergic reaction in sensitive individuals.
Carrageenan can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, stomach cramps, body aches, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome, severe inflammatory bowel disease etc.
WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) indicated that carrageenan should be restricted in infant formula due to the gastrointestinal effects on infants.
Ulcers and gastrointestinal cancer
In animal studies, results indicated that when carrageenan was subject to high temperatures and acidity that it may cause ulcers and gastrointestinal cancer.
You Should not Eat Carrageenan Containing Food
Scientists have warned that the use of carrageenan in food is not safe.
Carrageenan induces inflammation by triggering immune system. Daily intake of carrageenan containing food causes prolonged and constant inflammation resulting in serious health concern.
New Studies done on Carrageenan Reinforce Link to Inflammation, Cancer and Diabetes.
Study done using mice show carrageenan in drinking water impaired insulin action and profound glucose intolerance resulting in diabetes.
Animal studies and in-vitro studies with human cells have shown that food-grade carrageenan causes gastrointestinal inflammation, and higher rates of intestinal lesions, ulcerations, and even malignant tumors.
Carrageenan has been found to cause colitis in animal models of ulcerative colitis.
Carrageenan reduces the activity of certain beneficial enzymes in human cells.
Studies have identified several ways in which food-grade carrageenan affects the health in negative way.
It is very clear that to keep healthy and keep diseases away try to eat only home cooked fresh food. Completely avoid or minimize eating marketed food items and processed foods.