Carrageenan is extracted from red seaweed, and it is commonly added as a thickening agent and emulsifier to many organic and non-organic foods. These include dairy and dairy alternatives, deli meats, dips, cereals, desserts, snacks, frozen pizzas and meals, nutritional drinks, food bars, baby formulas, gum, supplements, and many other packaged foods. Some rotisserie chickens may contain carrageenan, so check the ingredients label. Many plant-based milks, like almond, oat, soy, and rice, contain carrageenan.
Carrageenan is often listed as “sea vegetable extract”.
Seaweed extract can also be found in some personal care products, such as toothpaste, facial moisturizer, cleanser, shampoo, conditioner, shaving cream, makeup foundation, and sunscreen.
Red seaweed sounds pretty innocuous, but as usual, the problem happens during processing. The extraction process changes carrageenan into its inflammatory form, which has been used in scientific studies to induce pain, chronic inflammation, insulin resistance, and other health problems in rats.
Dr. Joanne Tobacman, an associate professor at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, has published more than 20 studies on the health effects of carrageenan, and is a public advocate for its removal. She found that carrageenan as a food additive is capable of causing inflammation, and chronic inflammation can trigger any number of health problems.
Dr. Tobacman also found a connection to glucose intolerance and insulin resistance from chronic, low-dose exposure to carrageenan.
A study was published in January of 2014 by Dr. Tobacman and her colleagues that shows how carrageenan contributes to colon cancer.
Look for products that contain locust bean gum or guar gum instead of carrageenan.
The Remember, it’s the cumulative effects that often lead Cornucopia Institute has created a Shopping Guide to Avoiding Organic Foods with Carrageenan at https://www.cornucopia.org/shopping-guide-to-avoiding-organic-foods-with-carrageenan/
Remember, it’s the cumulative effects that often lead to health problems, so read the labels, and keep learning to be healthy!
Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist & Health Coach
1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent disease. It does not take the place of any medical care that you may need. Consult your health care provider about making dietary and lifestyle changes that are right for you.