What is Carrageenan?

While the idea of only eating simple unprocessed foods is great, it can be challenging.

I try to go for the second best thing which is understanding what the unpronounceable ingredients are.

With that goal in mind I give you…


What is carrageenan?

Carrageenan is a vegetable gum which is a type of indigestible carbohydrate or fiber.

It is extracted from seaweed.

As a gum, it has the ability to absorb water and swell to several times its original volume.

What is carrageenan used for?

It is used:

  • to emulsify or help with the mixing of salad dressings and non-dairy creamer
  • to stabilize the foam in whipped cream and other whipped desserts
  • to thicken pudding, pie filling, sauces, sour cream, soy milk
  • to improve texture of syrup, fruit drinks, processed cheeses and meats
  • to add body, prevent ice crystal formation, and help ice cream resist melting.

Is carrageenan safe?

There are concerns about carrageenan because some research has found that large amounts of carrageenan can harm the colons of test animals.

However, at this point, the small amounts of carrageenan used in food appear to be safe.

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