Is Carrageenam Safe

Most people have been asking about Carrageenam. The most frequent asked question is; is Carrageenam bad? Before we answer this question, let us first of all try to define what Carrageenam is. It refers to a food additive that is very  common. It is gotten from a red seaweed. Though on the nutritional scale it score zero, it is very popular as an emulsifier and  a number one thickener for texture improvement  of cottage cheese, ice cream, soy milk, yogurt, and many more foods which are processed.

This additive has been in use in Ireland to cure colds and coughs since 400AD. It is usually available in two forms; degraded and food grade. For the many years that it has been in use, the food grade has been approved for use in food, and there are hundreds of positive reviews to its credit making it is one of the safest additives to be trusted.

Is Carrageenam bad? What is it that makes us to believe that it is safe for use in food? This is a food additive that has been evaluated independently by an expert committee at WHO and FAO, and found to be safe.  Having been first made commercially in the 1940s for use in junket and chocolate milk, it has continued to excel in the market. Some doctors do recommend Carrageenam for use as a pain killer in peptic ulcers. It is believed that, it has the concentration needed to give ulcer relief which is created by the gel. The degraded Carrageenam is produced from hydrolyzing Carrageenam, cutting bonds and making molecules smaller and removing its thickening property.

How Do We Know If Carrageenan is Safe

There is research which was carried out by Dr.Tobacman and which was reviewed by a group of independent international toxicologists at FAO/WHO, and it was recommended that the question is Carrageenan bad be dismissed, and an approval of use is rubber stamped. An evaluation was conducted and agreed that food grade Carrageenan was a safe food additive with no limits on usage.

Properties of Carrageenan

It is a soluble fiber which is extracted from Irish moss or the red marine algae. It contains polysaccharides, carbohydrates, which mainly compose of galactose. Based on its gelling ability, it is divided into 3 types of commercial Carrageenan:

  • Kappa which forms rigid, stable gels when reacted with potassium ions. This makes it an excellent additive in dairy products
  • Lambda: though it does not gel, it is used to thicken dairy products
  • Iota: it combines with calcium ions to form soft gels

What differentiate the above properties of Carrageenam is the ester sulfate position in the groups on the galactose units. The higher the ester sulfate level, the lower the solubility temperature and the lower the strength of forming a gel.

Different seaweed species are created during its life cycle. The saprophytic stage produces the Lambda type, genus gigartina gives out kappa. They are all soluble in hot water, but the only lambda is soluble in cold water.

Uses of Carrageenan

When answering is carrageenan bad question, it is good to know that, it is widely used for two principal purposes:

  1. Food Additive

It is exceptionally useful due to its unique chemical structure as a binder. It stabilizes and thickens in a wide variety of foods and even in healthcare product like Colgate. It is used to thicken coconut milk, chocolate milk, coffee, ice creams, coffee, yogurts, hot cereal beverages, processed meat, dried pasta products, fish products, pate, vegetarian hot dogs, salt substitutes, liquid and frozen egg products, sugar and syrups, fermented vegetables, cottage cheese, infant formulas, ham, whipping creams, almond milk, processed meat. It can also be used in shampoos and personal lubricants.

  1. Conventional Medicine
    It is used in solutions used to treat coughs and intestinal problems as it decreases pain and swelling. The bulk laxative, is used to treat peptic ulcers, bronchitis, constipation, tuberculosis, or promoting weight loss

To conclude, Carrageenan might not be the monster that people have put the public to believe because, used under the concentration of below 5%, Carrageenan is good. Use it in the prescribed quantity and it will be good for you. As a food additive, its work is only to thicken the food and does not affect the nutrient content or flavor. In pharmaceutical, if used in the right dosages, it will help I taking care of some common ailments. Now that the FDA/WHO have allowed its usage after extensive research, it means we have nothing to worry about and our question, is Carrageenan bad,  is answered in the positive – Carrageenan is a good additive to add in your food for thickening purposes.

Let your relatives and friends have the know how so that they can be enlightened on the other side of Carrageenan so that they can use it in the right portion for thickening purposes.

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