The Internet is a mine of information, but sometimes it can also breed myths rather than facts. One such example in case is with a food ingredient called carrageenan. You may have seen it listed with other things in the foods that you eat. But what is it exactly, and why is there some misinformation about it? Let me explain.
What is carrageenan?
In a nutshell, carrageenan is a natural thickening or gelling agent derived from seaweed. All edible red seaweeds contains plenty of carrageenan.
Food manufacturers use carrageenan as an alternative to gelatin. In case you didn’t know, gelatin is animal-derived. As you can imagine, carrageenan is useful in making a product suitable for vegetarians.
Why is carrageenan good for me?
The obvious fact is that carrageenan is a natural ingredient. It’s easy to extract from red seaweed (see the infographic below), and there are a few health benefits to it. For instance, it’s used as a natural remedy to get rid of some stomach complaints.
How come there is some misinformation about carrageenan?
Some groups believe that carrageenan can cause long-term health problems. Controlled studies have shown no adverse effects to humans.
There is some confusion between carrageenan and another ingredient, poligeenan. Some evidence suggests there are health issues associated with poligeenan.
The thing is; many people assume it’s the same ingredient as carrageenan! It’s important to note that they are both different, and that poligeenan is not approved for food use.
So, as you can see, carrageenan is one of nature’s good ingredients. I hope you’ve found this information useful today; thanks for reading!
Infographic Produced By foodsciencematters.com