Facts to Know About Carrageenan

green seaweeds

It is almost impossible to avoid carrageenan today. As such, it is highly unlikely to find yourself in a supermarket or a food store that does not sell carrageenan products. Carrageenan is often added to food items as an additive. Which foods might have this item in them? Coconut milk, organic yogurts, and some baby products are known to have decent amounts of this substance. Since you are now well aware that carrageenan is almost impossible to avoid, here are some essential facts to know about it.

What is Carrageenan?


A lot has been written about this substance, most of which is not true. In its simplest form, carrageenan is an additive that is obtained from seaweeds and red algae. When this extracted from these plants in an alkaline environment, the product is considered natural and healthy. On the contrary, when the same seaweed is extracted in acidic conditions, the resulting product is a degraded carrageenan also known as poligeenan.

The degraded carrageenan is known to cause adverse inflammatory effects on the body. This product is used in clinical studies to induce controlled inflammation in laboratory mice. The use of this degraded product that has evoked concerns from different quarters about the safety of carrageenan.

Why Carrageenan?

Carrageenan is mainly used as an additive and for conventional medicine. The use of this product in this two areas is often linked to its unique properties.

As a food additive, carrageenan is highly preferred for its thickening properties. Besides not having any nutritional value or unique taste, this thickening property explains why it is commonly used in creams, milk, yogurts, chocolate, and in other products like toothpaste.

woman with common coldAs highlighted earlier, carrageenan can also be used in conventional medicine. This product is often used as an active ingredient in common cold drugs. Also, it is also used in medicines used to treat intestinal conditions and has also been used as a laxative for a long time.

Controversies

Carrageenan has had a history of debates for decades, and this is not expected to change soon. A whole bunch of evidence clears some concerns about the use of this product are not objective in any way. Poligeenan or degraded component of carrageenan is often confused with its healthy counterpart, which has played a vital role in the soili9ng the reputation of carrageenan. For instance, it has been confirmed that carageenan does not cause cancer and medical experts continue to disagree with a whole list of other effects.