The Carrageenan Controversy


Crista’s back today with a topic that has caused a good amount of controversy – one of which I’ve heard conflicting  reports.  Carrageenan is not harmful and carrageenan is harmful, so which is it!?!  Well, your questions will be answered today and you can decide for yourself.  Take it away Crista!     

picture 1An ingredient that is stirring up quite a bit of controversy is carrageenan.  Carrageenan is a common food additive that is extracted from Chondrus crispus, a red seaweed commonly known as Irish moss. Carrageenan is used as a thickener and emulsifier to improve the texture of many different foods and products, including those that are organic certified.  Just a few products that contain carrageenan include ice cream, half & half, cream, cottage cheese, chocolate milk, hemp milk, rice milk, almond milk, soy milk, cheesecake, processed meats, salad dressings, hot dogs, frozen desserts, apple cider, jellies, prepared sauces, pies, frozen dinners, soups, puddings, condiments, tooth pastes, and baby formulas. Some companies actually hide it on their labels by claiming that it is part of another ingredient (Charis Hollistic Center).

picture 2So, what makes carrageenan so dangerous?  Some animal studies have linked degraded forms of it, which are typically not found in foods, to ulcerations and cancers of the gastrointestinal tract.  Undegraded carrageenan, which are found in foods,  have been linked to malignancies and other stomach problems. Exposure to carrageenan has also been proven to cause inflammation.  Inflammation is the  root cause of many serious diseases including heart disease, Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s diseases, and cancer.  Drug investigators actually used carrageenan to cause inflammation in tissues in order to test the anti-inflammatory properties of new drugs.  It has also been found to cause colitis (inflammation of the large intestine/colon) and anaphylaxis (a life threatening allergic reaction) in humans. Another disturbing fact is that when laboratory mice are exposed to low concentrations of carrageenan for just 18 days, they develop profound glucose intolerance and impaired insulin action, both of which can lead to diabetes (Dr. Weil).

After research has found so many disturbing links, how is it still allowed to be added to our food?  All we can do for now is try to steer clear of carrageenan.  The Cornucopia Institute created a Buying Guide to help you shop for carrageenan-free products.  Check it out and be sure to check your labels!

Do you try to avoid food products that contain carrageenan?

15 thoughts on “The Carrageenan Controversy

  1. Thanks for informing me! Anymore I feel the food industry feeds us just about anything they can find harmful or not I try to avoid anything with ingredients that I don’t recognize or unnatural !

  2. Such a bummer that carrageenan is in SO many products. Trader Joe’s almond milk doesn’t have it….score!

  3. Carrageenan is one of the items we’re told to avoid on the Whole 30 Program… nasty stuff!! I used to drink almond milk that has it in it, but I won’t be going back to that… I plan on sticking with my aversion to carrageenan. Great post!

  4. You caught me with the molecular structure :) haha I’m pretty sure the almond milk I buy doesn’t have it in it. But sometimes the cottage cheese I pick up does. Thanks for the buyers guide, I’ll be taking a look!

    Ps sorry if this posted twice!

  5. i stopped buying almond milk because of this..and i actually LIKE making my own tastes so much better and it’s so simple and easy to do.

  6. Good evening! !
    It is a trip from the 24th tomorrow.
    Destination Izu and Kamakura.
    Buddha and autumn leaves, Izu enjoy the hot springs Kamakura.

  7. This is interesting! I’ve heard a little bit about carrageenan, but this post prompted me to do a little more research. I can’t seem to find much about federal regulations (differences between countries- I’m in Australia- but it seems like it would be pretty consistent). Also, I’ve never actually seen this ingredient listed on products, just “thickener”, so how are we supposed to be certain what kind of thickener is being used? We certainly need to be our own advocates and food researchers, don’t we!

    • That is great that you are doing more research! I’ve seen it listed in ingredients but it is so creepy how they can just write, “thickener,” or combine carrageenan with another ingredient and just list that ingredient.

  8. Pingback: How to Eat Clean | Slim Sanity

  9. Pingback: Irish moss | Find Me A Cure

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