Carrageenan can be found everywhere. Specifically, it can be found in a lot of variety of products in almost all grocery stores all around you, especially in the natural food stores. Organic products are known to have this as an additive or emulsifier. You can find it in tofu, yogurt, milk, cream, cheese, and even in deli meats. There have always been several controversies around carrageenan regarding its health effects. It may seem like it is good since it does come from red seaweed and found in a lot of healthy foods. However, its name has not always been good since it has a reputation of damaging the digestive system.
What is it?
It is an additive that is an emulsifier, which is a thickening agent derived from Irish moss that is famously called red seaweed. It has been used as food additive for a long time, approximately since around the fifteenth century. It is very strong binding to food proteins and is used to emulsify, thicken, gel, stabilize, and preserve food and beverages from dairy products, nut milk, and even meat products.
Uses and side effects
Other than being used as food additive, it can also be used as a stabilizer or thickening agent for healthcare products like toothpaste. Its other main purpose is as conventional medicine. It is an active ingredient in different medical solutions, which is known to decrease swelling and pain. On the other hand, there are side effects to consuming carrageenan. These include the promotion of inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, bloating, food allergies, and some say it can go as far as cancer. Keep in mind that the studies conducted surrounding it were tested on animals and cells. There will still be a need to do more human studies.
Carrageenan is very beneficial in terms of being an additive in the food industry. It has beneficial purposes, but on the other hand, it has its side effects. Although these side effects are important to think about, there is still much needed human studies to confirm it. The Food and Drug Administration still approves it to be an active ingredient in a variety of products. Taking it out of your diet may be difficult since it is available in a lot of food and drinks. If you are worried about the side effects, try taking it out of your diet for a while to test whether there is any changes or improvements. Eliminate it when you experience something and keep it if you don’t.