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Carrageenan is a colloid extracted from different red algae (such as Irish moss) and used particularly as a stabilizing or thickening representative. [1]

Irish Moss: The History of Carrageenan’s Roots

Chondrus crispus

Carrageenan is made from a kind of red seaweed known as Chondrus crispus. Archaeologists approximate human beings have actually been collecting seaweed, like Chondrus crispus, for almost 14,000 years. Evidence of red seaweed’s medical advantages in China can be traced back to 600 BC, and it was initially utilized as a food source around 400 BC on the British Isles.

Often referred to as Irish moss, the thick seaweed used for carrageenan grows generously along the rocky coastline of the Atlantic, including the shores of the British Isles, The United States And Canada and Europe. This seaweed is especially plentiful along Ireland’s rocky shoreline, where it has actually been cultivated for centuries for both its gelling homes in foods as well as supposed medicinal functions. In fact, carrageenan’s name comes from Carrigan Head, a cape near Northern Ireland, the title of which was motivated by the Irish word “carraigín,” which equates to “little rock.” In the 19th century, the Irish thought carrageenan might cure ill calves along with human colds, flu and congestion. First, the seaweed was harvested and set out to dry. Then it was cleaned and boiled before being added to flans, tonics and even beer. Utilized similarly to gelatin, carrageenan ended up being an essential active ingredient in the traditional Irish pudding, Blancmange, a delicately-set cream dessert. Blancmange is still made in Ireland, where whole pieces of dried red seaweed can be acquired in local markets.

The Irish Potato Starvation

Carrageenan was also utilized to combat nutritional shortages in the 1800s throughout the Irish Potato Scarcity. The red seaweed was contributed to warmed milk with sugar and spices to produce a fortified drink. This drink is still taken in today in both Ireland and the Caribbean. As Irish immigrants fled starvation and came to the United States, the first American seaweed farming production was established off the coast of Massachusetts. However, it wasn’t up until The Second World War, when a similar component called agar was no longer available, that carrageenan soared in appeal in the United States food supply. [2]

Did you understand?

The name Carrageenan is derived from a species of seaweed called Carrageen Moss or Irish Moss in England, and Carraigin in Ireland. Carraigin has actually been used in Ireland because 400 A.D. as gelatin and as a natural home remedy to cure coughs and colds.

Formally known by its species name as Chondrus crispus, Irish moss is likewise described as red algae or sea moss. The thin, flat, reddish-purple leaves branch off in a duplicating pattern from a main stem and the plant grows primarily in the chillier waters of the eastern and western northern Atlantic ocean.

Just Delish has gone to terrific lengths and sourced the highest grade we could source which is NON-GMO verified carrageenan for our amazing Simply Delish Jel Dessert items. Our objective is to just source the best and best components for all our household of Just Delish products.

What is the procedure of carrageenan?

Hundreds of years earlier, the Irish would make carrageenan in their kitchen areas by boiling salt, seaweed, and alcohol. Then, they would mix those 3 active ingredients to release natural carrageenan.

Since then, the procedure used to make carrageenan is extremely comparable and still, very minimal, suggesting it stays near to the natural form. Initially, the seaweed is put in boiling water that is slightly alkaline (” alkaline” simply something greater on the ph scale; for example, watermelon is alkaline and has a high ph, while vinegar is acidic and has a low ph). Finally, the seaweed is dried, sliced, and ground into a great carrageenan powder.

What foods and drinks utilize carrageenan?

Carrageenan is an important component in a number of the foods and beverages taken in every day. It’s likewise widely used in the food industry, primarily as a thickener and gelling representative. Generally you’ll discover it in foods such as those delicious plant-based milk, like nuts and soy milk, to deli meats, protein shakes/powders, chocolate milk, yogurts, popsicles, ready meals such as frozen burritos and pizza, ice cream, and infant formula.

Unlike gelatin, which originates from animal products, carrageenan is appropriate for vegans and is naturally, grown in water.

Why is carrageenan in our food?

Carrageenan is utilized as a food additive for various reasons. Initially, it is utilized in ice cream to give it the smooth, velvety texture that all of us know and enjoy. Because delicious chocolate milk and nuttylicious almond milk, carrageenan is utilized as a stabilizer to keep the chocolate from separating or the ground nuts from settling to the bottom of the carton. In addition to being used as a chocolate stabilizer, it is likewise used to stabilize and suspend nutrients in liquid baby formula to ensure babies receive the nutrition they need. Another use is that it can decrease the sugar content in jams and jellies, lower sodium in lunch meats while keeping them moist and fresh, and enhance and secure the general nutritional worth in numerous foods without compromising taste. [3]


Carrageenans are big, extremely versatile particles that form curling helical structures. This provides the ability to form a variety of various gels at room temperature level. They are commonly used in the food and other markets as thickening and supporting representatives.

All carrageenans are high-molecular-weight polysaccharides and primarily made up of alternating 3-linked b-D-galac- topyranose (G-units) and 4-linked a-D-galactopyranose (D-units) or 4-linked 3,6-anhydro-a-D-galactopyranose (DA-units), forming the disaccharide duplicating unit of carrageenans.

There are three main business classes of carrageenan:.

Kappa forms strong, stiff gels in the existence of potassium ions, and reacts with dairy proteins. It is sourced generally from Kappaphycus alvarezii.

Iota kinds soft gels in the presence of calcium ions. It is produced generally from Eucheuma denticulatum.

Lambda does not gel, and is utilized to thicken dairy products.

The primary differences that affect the residential or commercial properties of kappa, iota, and lambda carrageenan are the number and position of the ester sulfate groups on the duplicating galactose units. Higher levels of ester sulfate lower the solubility temperature of the carrageenan and produce lower strength gels, or contribute to gel inhibition (lambda carrageenan).

Lots of red algal species produce various types of carrageenans during their developmental history. For example, the genus Gigartina produces generally kappa carrageenans throughout its gametophytic phase, and lambda carrageenans during its sporophytic phase.

All are soluble in hot water, but in cold water, just the lambda kind (and the sodium salts of the other 2) are soluble.

When utilized in food, carrageenan has the EU additive E numbers E407 or E407a when present as “processed eucheuma seaweed”. Technically carrageenan is thought about a dietary fiber.

In parts of Scotland and Ireland, where it is understood by a range of regional and native names, Chondrus crispus is boiled in milk and stretched, prior to sugar and other flavourings such as vanilla, cinnamon, brandy, or whisky are included. The end-product is a sort of jelly comparable to panna cotta, tapioca, or blancmange. [4]

Which foods have carrageenan?

Carrageenan tends to be in vegan and vegetarian products. Considering that it’s a plant, manufacturers use it to replace gelatin, which is made from animal parts.

Common sources of carrageenan.

  • Chocolate milk
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cream
  • Ice cream
  • Almond milk
  • Journal options, such as vegan cheeses or nondairy desserts
  • Coconut milk
  • Creamers
  • Hemp milk
  • Rice milk
  • Soy milk
  • Deli meats

Carrageenan has no nutritional worth, so you don’t have to stress over missing out on anything when you eliminate foods containing it. Discovering replacements for vegetarian or vegan foods without carrageenan is possible. Just bear in mind that carrageenan-free milks may separate. This is natural. All you have to do is shake well before putting.

To see which brand names are carrageenan-free, take a look at Cornucopia’s shopping guide. Carrageenan is likewise discovered in animal foods, specifically canned ones. Pick a brand that does not include this additive. [5]

The Carrageenan Debate

Carrageenan has actually been used in traditional food preparation for centuries and is a component in numerous organic and vegan foods. But now critics are calling for a restriction. Is carrageenan safe? Nutrition Queen sorts through the proof

Who would have thought that this ancient, natural, plant-based component would become center of a swirling controversy? But it definitely has. Some scientists have actually provided proof that carrageenan is highly inflammatory and toxic to the digestive tract, and claim that it may be reponsible for colitis, IBS, rheumatoid arthritis, and even colon cancer. Equally appreciated scientists have actually detailed the reasons that this evidence is flawed and deceptive, concluding that there is no legitimate reason to prohibit its use. [6]

Health Advantages of Carrageenan

Carrageenan is a seaweed extract that has many usages in the foods we consume every day. Much like flour or starch, it can be utilized to thicken foods such as gravy. It prevents separation (think almond milk) by binding active ingredients together, enhances texture (it’s utilized in ice cream to prevent ice crystals from forming), and assists low-fat foods, such as yogurt, taste just as good as the full-fat version. In infant formula, carrageenan suspends the nutrients so that children get the nutrients they require.

On a dietary level, carrageenan is reasonably neutral. Given that it is mainly fiber, it is indigestible in the body. Hence, carrageenan is used to boost your food experience without having an unfavorable impact on your diet plan. Even better, brand-new research suggests that while carrageenan does not include any vitamins or minerals, there may be other, lesser-known health advantages associated with this typical component.

Listed below we look at five manner ins which one of the world’s most popular food additives might be supplying you with formally unacknowledged health benefits.

Enhanced Gut Health

Arise from a 2015 research study show a variety of prebiotic impacts related to carrageenan intake. Carrageenan, then, may positively influence the development of helpful microbial neighborhoods in the digestive tract. This can cause boosted gut health and enhanced immune reactions. A separate research study has also revealed that carrageenan might safeguard the digestive lining from being rusted by alcohol, making it a possible defense against stomach ulcers.

Antioxidant Assistance

Studies recommend that carrageenan might show antioxidant activity, implying that it reduces the effects of totally free radicals, which can cause significant damage in the body if left uncontrolled. Free radicals have actually been consistently connected to a variety of health concerns (consisting of diabetes, Parkinson’s illness, age-related eye illness, and even cancer), making the antioxidant homes of carrageenan potentially extremely significant.

Reduced Cholesterol Levels

High levels of bad cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis, which can increase the probability of cardiac arrest or strokes. A research study on the cholesterol-related impacts of carrageenan showed that a diet plan that regularly includes carrageenan may result in lower blood cholesterol and lipid levels, beyond that of regular dietary fibers.

A 2nd research study supports these findings and notes that carrageenan can be used not just to help prevent atherosclerosis, but also as a treatment for heart disease.

Treatment for Acute Rhinitis and Flu

In the United States alone, there are hundreds of countless cases of the common cold every year, with adults balancing two to three cases, and children experiencing even more. Regardless of the unpleasantness of having the flu, many people have actually come to anticipate a bout with the influenza as a typical yearly incident. We have actually come to accept that there merely is no way to avoid or cure the acute rhinitis.

Maybe that is not as set in stone as we when thought. A recent research study out of Austria identifies potential antiviral properties related to carrageenan. Some of the very same residential or commercial properties that make carrageenan valuable as a thickener in foods also make it a reliable treatment when used as an active ingredient in nasal sprays. The study suggests that carrageenan gel can sticking directly to viruses, avoiding them from attaching to the nasal wall, and restricting their capability to propagate.

A separate research study also concluded that carrageenan-based nasal spray might be effective as a treatment for influenza, even when the treatment starts well after infection.

One of the most promising elements of these medical findings is that carrageenan appears to be reliable, despite the particular cold infection being targeted. That is probably why carrageenan is already being used in numerous over the counter nasal sprays in Europe.

Healthy Alternative to Unhealthy Foods

Food additives do just that– they add something to a typical food product. Often, nevertheless, the most crucial function they supply is that through replacing a component. As pointed out previously, carrageenan can be utilized to enhance the taste and texture of low fat, low-sodium, and low-sugar foods.

Unlike comparable components, carrageenan is both natural and vegan. As such, in addition to improving texture, preventing separation, and keeping foods fresh and satisfying for longer amount of times, carrageenan also offers the choice of a much healthier food that still tastes good, without some of the potentially dishonest processes of other, animal-based, additives, not to mention the calories that come with routine fat.

While you may already be familiar with the word “carrageenan,” thanks to recent research studies, this innovative food ingredient is ready to discover new life beyond the label. We are just now beginning to find other benefits of carrageenan, and as scientists put this basic seaweed extract under the microscopic lense, its benefits are really starting to build up. [7]

Carrageenan types

Chondrus crispusactually consists of a mix of carrageenan types, the primary ones being kappa and lambda. Today Newfoundland is among the primary sources of chondrus crispus but it is not a major source of carrageenan in world terms. Chondrus Crispus is wild gathered and not farmed. The only farmed Chondrus Crispus is utilized in the culinary market.

Gigartina is one of the major species used in the extraction of carrageenan. Gigartina is wild harvested in various kinds including Gigartina Skottsbergii off the coast of Argentina and Chile, Gigartina Stellata from the coast of France. Gigartina is a blended weed type. Unlike in some weed types Gigartina has the various carrageenan types really mixed up along the very same polymer chain in a ‘hybrid’ kind of polymer. Iridaea is another type of South American weed found off the coast of Chile. Both of these weed types include mixtures of kappa, iota and lambda carrageenan. Hybrid weed species are often preferred in some dairy applications.

Eucheuma is a pacific specie and is available in two significant industrial kinds, Eucheuma Cottonii andeucheuma Spinosum. Unlike the other weed types the Eucheuma types are reasonably pure in the carrageenan type they contain. Cottonii is mainly kappa carrageenan and Spinosum is mainly iota carrageenan.This permits higher flexibility in formula due to the fact that you are not limited to the ratios of kappa and iota that happen to happen in the native weedstock. The biggest industrial source of Eucheuma is the Philippines where the weed is in fact farmed instead of wild gathered. Other significant sources include Indonesia and to a lesser extent Africa and the pacific islands.

Hypnea and furcellaran are other types of carrageenan that are seen occasionally. The classification of seaweeds is still a confused topic and lots of other names are also heard these names are utilized interchangeably in the industry. For instance Eucheuma Cottonii is typically referred to as Kappaphycus Alvarezei and although this may not be technically correct it is common practise. [8]

Alternatives to carrageenan

In the U.S., any items that contain carrageenan should list it as an ingredient. An individual should have the ability to avoid carrageenan by inspecting labeling carefully.

Carrageenan’s texture-enhancing qualities, for example, can be replicated using:.

  • Locust bean gum
  • Gum arabic
  • Alginate
  • Guar gum
  • Xanthan gum

When a drink that tends to separate, such as chocolate milk, does not contain a stabilizer, a person may need to shake the bottle. This does not impact the quality or safety of the item. [9]

Is Carrageenan Safe to Consume?

Carrageenan is a water-soluble fiber found in specific types of seaweed. It forms a gel, so it can add texture and the right “mouth-feel” for certain foods. Therefore, carrageenan is utilized as a thickener or stabilizer in items such as soy milk, ice cream, whipping cream, cream cheese, bakery items, cereals, salad dressings, sauces, and snack foods.

Carrageenan gets its name from seaweed that grows along the coast of Ireland near a village named Carragheen. However most of the carrageenan used in food processing originates from Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and other Pacific Islands.

It’s categorized as GRAS by the United States Food and Drug Administration, which approved its usage back in 1961.1 GRAS means “generally recognized as safe.” It’s been utilized safely in food processing in the United States for more than fifty years.

Some individuals believe that usage of carrageenan might be dangerous, however this belief is mainly based on studies that have actually since been refuted.

Is Carrageenan Dangerous?

In 2001, questions were raised about the potential for carrageenan to be a health hazard because one researcher’s laboratory tests suggested exposure to large amounts of degraded carrageenan caused intestinal tract damage in some species of rodents and primates.

However the substance utilized in those studies, degraded carrageenan, isn’t the like the carrageenan utilized in food products. Deteriorated carrageenan is properly described as poligeenan. It’s totally various and does not have the same homes as carrageenan, so it’s not utilized in food.

Some consumers believe that consuming foods that contain carrageenan causes them to have gastrointestinal problems due to swelling. This is based on research studies including guinea pigs. But the swelling triggered by the carrageenan was specific to guinea pigs and didn’t occur in other animal types.

What Is the Anti-Inflammatory Diet plan?

The research that has been done given that 2001 indicates food-grade carrageenan direct exposure doesn’t cause any damage to intestinal tract walls, nor does it break down into poligeenan during food processing or digestion.

Of course, it is essential to keep an eye on any compounds used in food manufacturing. The Specialist Committee on Food Additives (JECFA). Which is formed by Food and Farming Organization (FAO) and the World Health Company (WHO) of the United Nations, has actually assessed the research worrying carrageenan as an active ingredient in infant formula and found no factor for issue at concentrations approximately 1000 milligrams per liter. Consuming carrageenan in high amounts would normally be done under medical guidance. [10]

Side Effects

When taken by mouth: Carrageenan is commonly consumed in foods. A broken down kind called poligeenan is perhaps unsafe. It might damage the colon and cause bleeding and cancer. But this risk hasn’t been shown in human beings. Likewise, carrageenan items discovered in the United States and Europe can just include an extremely percentage of this broken down type.

When sprayed into the nose: Carrageenan is potentially safe for many people when used for as much as 7 days.

When applied to the skin: There isn’t adequate trustworthy details to understand if carrageenan is safe. It may trigger adverse effects such as discomfort.

Unique Precautions and Warnings

  • When taken by mouth: Carrageenan is typically consumed in foods. A broken down type called poligeenan is perhaps hazardous. It might harm the colon and trigger bleeding and cancer. But this threat hasn’t been displayed in human beings. Also, carrageenan products found in the US and Europe can just include a very percentage of this broken down kind.
  • When sprayed into the nose: Carrageenan is possibly safe for most people when used for as much as 7 days.
  • When applied to the skin: There isn’t enough trustworthy info to know if carrageenan is safe. It might cause side effects such as discomfort.
  • Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Carrageenan is typically consumed in foods. There isn’t sufficient dependable info to know if it’s safe in the larger quantities utilized as medication. Remain on the safe side and stick to food quantities.
  • Bleeding conditions: Carrageenan may slow blood clotting and boost bleeding. Carrageenan may make bleeding disorders worse.
  • Surgical treatment: Carrageenan may slow blood clot in some individuals. Carrageenan may increase the danger for bleeding and interfere with high blood pressure control during surgeries. Stop using carrageenan at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgical treatment.
  • Ulcerative colitis: Carrageenan may increase the threat of regression in people with ulcerative colitis who are in remission and are on a carrageenan-free diet plan. [11]


Medications for high blood pressure (Antihypertensive drugs) Interaction Ranking: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health company.

Carrageenan might reduce high blood pressure. Taking carrageenan along with medications for high blood pressure may cause your high blood pressure to go too low.

Some medications for hypertension consist of captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), Amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (hydrodiuril), furosemide (Lasix), and numerous others.


The suitable dosage of carrageenan depends upon several factors such as the user’s age, health, and a number of other conditions. At this time there is not enough clinical details to figure out an appropriate variety of dosages for carrageenan. Remember that natural items are not always necessarily safe and does can be crucial. Make sure to follow relevant instructions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare specialist before utilizing. [12]


Carrageenan is an additive made from parts of various red algae or red seaweed. It is a natural ingredient obtained from red seaweed.

Carrageenan has actually been in the dispute for a long period of time over the security of consumption. Some of usings carrageenan consist of binding active ingredients together, enhancing the texture and helps yogurt to taste just as great. Considering that carrageenan is mostly fiber, it is reasonably neutral on a nutritional level.

Carrageenan is used to improve the food experience without having any harmful results on the diet plan.

Carrageenan, which is processed with acid, produces a substance called abject carrageenan, or poligeenan, which has significant health cautions. Poligeenan is an inflammatory substance and is utilized to evaluate brand-new anti-inflammatory drugs in the laboratory.

Poligeenan is thought about harmful and is not approved as a food additive. Research study recommends that poligeenan can cause gut tumors and ulcers, and has the prospective to even set off colon cancer. International Agency for Research in Cancer has actually listed poligeenan as a possible human carcinogen.

The studies are not conclusive with respect to the quantity of degraded carrageenan that is dangerous. Due to the prospective danger, there is hardly any research, which has been carried out to check humans.

The bottom line is that if there is an interest in respect to the side impacts of carrageenan, it is better to take it out of the diet and expect any improvement. It can be easily found listed under the item’s active ingredients so that procedures can be required to either avoid or add it to the diet.

Consulting a doctor is advised to come to a conclusion if the active ingredient requires to be included or eliminated from the diet plan. [13]


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