Carrageenan: Is it safe for you?
You may not know that you are consuming Carrageenan when you eat your favorite departmental store or fast food chain bought snack.
Processed food often have substances that may sound like they should not be there. These may occur naturally and then are processed. Or they may be chemically created. Such substances may thicken the food, emulsify liquids, stabilize crystals, or change the texture of the packaged foods. These additives are often considered essential ingredients that contribute in keeping processed food “fresh” and “healthy”.
Carrageenan is one such substance. It is a colloid that is extracted from red algae and seaweed, and is used as a suspending agent in processed foods and as a clarifying agent in processed beverages. The seaweed is first treated with potassium hydroxide and then it is washed, dried, and finally milled. This milled substance is then used as an additive in packaged food.
How is it used?
Carrageenan as an additive is pretty adaptable. Because of its multi-faceted nature, it can be used as food texturizer in dairy products like whipping cream and ice cream by giving them a thick texture. It is also used as a substitute for fat in “fat free” products, and used as a stabilizer in drinks. Additionally, it is used as an emulsifying and binding agent in packaged meats.
How can eating Carrageenan harm you?
Carrageenan is commonly used in the manufacture of packaged food as well as in organic food products. There are different grades for this substance and quite often the quality of food is reduced with its addition. Few of the many grades of Carrageenan can even lead to medical conditions like degradation of the gastronomical tract, lungs, and various intestinal abnormalities.
Sometimes consumption can also lead to fatal conditions like colon cancer. Research on the safety of the substance is still being carried on. Other possible illnesses that may occur because of Carrageenan in our body are arbitrary. However, based on various test reports, many physicians and medical researchers believe that Carrageenan should not be consumed at all. It certainly does more harm than good.
Which products have Carrageenan?
Because of its versatility Carrageenan may be found in anything and everything pre-packaged that you buy from a store or your supermarket. Frozen meats, ice cream, soup packets, canned fruits, chocolates, flavored milk, and even baby food can contain this dangerous ingredient
Next time you go to Starbucks, you will know that their products have Carrageenan.
Certain Tofu brands may contain the substance. Packaged coconut milk, salad dressings, almond milk will have Carrageenan. Some Kraft products may have it, while Nestle also carries milk powder and chocolate drinks that have Carrageenan. Slimming and nutrition drinks are likely to have Carrageenan.
Many processed cheese will carry Carrageenan. Frozen foods from international brands like Natura, So Delicious, or Whole foods may also have the component. Organic food is also something you need to check for Carrageenan.
Nothing is really spared when it comes to processed foods. That’s why doctors often advise consumption of packaged food and recommend cooking from scratch, especially if you’re suffering from an illness or medical condition.
Next time you buy processed foods, make sure you take the time to check labels. You never know what harmful substance you are putting in your body, unknowingly.
What do you say about Carrageenan: Is it safe for you?
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