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Carrageenan is a colloid drawn out from various red algae (such as Irish moss) and utilized especially as a stabilizing or thickening agent. [1]

Irish Moss: The History of Carrageenan’s Roots

Chondrus crispus

Carrageenan is made from a type of red seaweed called Chondrus crispus. Archaeologists estimate human beings have been harvesting seaweed, like Chondrus crispus, for almost 14,000 years. Proof of red seaweed’s medicinal benefits in China can be traced back to 600 BC, and it was originally used as a food source around 400 BC on the British Isles.

Typically referred to as Irish moss, the thick seaweed used for carrageenan grows perfectly along the rocky coastline of the Atlantic, including the shores of the British Isles, The United States And Canada and Europe. This seaweed is particularly abundant along Ireland’s rocky coastline, where it has been cultivated for hundreds of years for both its gelling properties in foods in addition to supposed medical purposes. In fact, carrageenan’s name originates from Carrigan Head, a cape near Northern Ireland, the title of which was motivated by the Irish word “carraigĂ­n,” which translates to “little rock.” In the 19th century, the Irish believed carrageenan could cure sick calves along with human colds, influenza and congestion. Initially, the seaweed was gathered and set out to dry. Then it was cleaned and boiled before being contributed to flans, tonics and even beer. Utilized likewise to gelatin, carrageenan became a crucial ingredient in the classic Irish pudding, Blancmange, a delicately-set cream dessert. Blancmange is still made in Ireland, where entire pieces of dried red seaweed can be acquired in local markets.

The Irish Potato Famine

Carrageenan was likewise utilized to combat dietary shortages in the 1800s throughout the Irish Potato Scarcity. The red seaweed was contributed to warmed milk with sugar and spices to create a fortified beverage. This drink is still consumed today in both Ireland and the Caribbean. As Irish immigrants fled scarcity and pertained to the United States, the first American seaweed farming production was established off the coast of Massachusetts. Nevertheless, it wasn’t till World War II, when a comparable active ingredient called agar was no longer available, that carrageenan soared in popularity in the US food supply. [2]

Did you understand?

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

Formally understood by its types 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 repeating pattern from a central stem and the plant grows mainly in the colder waters of the eastern and western northern Atlantic ocean.

Simply Delish has actually gone to fantastic lengths and sourced the highest grade we could source which is NON-GMO confirmed carrageenan for our amazing Just Delish Jel Dessert products. Our mission is to just source the very best and safest active ingredients for all our family of Merely Delish items.

What is the process of carrageenan?

Hundreds of years back, 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.

Ever since, the procedure utilized to make carrageenan is really comparable and still, extremely minimal, implying it stays near to the natural type. First, the seaweed is positioned in boiling water that is a little alkaline (” alkaline” simply something higher 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 fine carrageenan powder.

What foods and drinks utilize carrageenan?

Carrageenan is a necessary ingredient in a number of the foods and beverages consumed every day. It’s likewise commonly used in the food market, primarily as a thickener and gelling representative. Usually you’ll find 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, prepared meals such as frozen burritos and pizza, ice cream, and infant formula.

Unlike gelatin, which comes 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 several reasons. First, it is used in ice cream to provide it the smooth, velvety texture that we all know and love. In that tasty 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 container. In addition to being utilized as a chocolate stabilizer, it is likewise used to stabilize and suspend nutrients in liquid baby formula to make certain infants receive the nutrition they need. Another usage is that it can minimize the sugar material in jams and jellies, decrease sodium in luncheon meat while keeping them moist and fresh, and improve and secure the overall nutritional value in a number of foods without sacrificing taste. [3]


Carrageenans are big, extremely versatile particles that form curling helical structures. This gives them the ability to form a range of different gels at room temperature level. They are extensively used in the food and other markets as thickening and stabilizing representatives.

All carrageenans are high-molecular-weight polysaccharides and mainly comprised 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 repeating unit of carrageenans.

There are three primary business classes of carrageenan:.

Kappa types strong, rigid gels in the existence of potassium ions, and responds with dairy proteins. It is sourced primarily from Kappaphycus alvarezii.

Iota types soft gels in the existence of calcium ions. It is produced mainly from Eucheuma denticulatum.

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

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

Numerous red algal types produce various kinds of carrageenans during their developmental history. For instance, the genus Gigartina produces mainly kappa carrageenans throughout its gametophytic phase, and lambda carrageenans throughout its sporophytic phase.

All are soluble in hot water, but in cold water, only the lambda type (and the sodium salts of the other two) 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 considered a dietary fibre.

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 strained, 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 items. Considering that it’s a plant, makers use it to replace gelatin, which is made from animal parts.

Typical 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 value, so you do not need to stress over missing anything when you get rid of foods containing it. Finding 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 prior to pouring.

To see which brands are carrageenan-free, have a look at Cornucopia’s shopping guide. Carrageenan is likewise found in pet foods, specifically canned ones. Pick a brand that does not contain this additive. [5]

The Carrageenan Controversy

Carrageenan has been utilized in traditional cooking for centuries and is an ingredient in lots of organic and vegan foods. Today critics are requiring a restriction. Is carrageenan safe? Nutrition Diva sorts through the evidence

Who would have believed that this ancient, natural, plant-based active ingredient would become center of a swirling debate? But it definitely has. Some scientists have provided evidence that carrageenan is highly inflammatory and harmful to the gastrointestinal tract, and claim that it may be reponsible for colitis, IBS, rheumatoid arthritis, and even colon cancer. Equally respected scientists have detailed the factors that this evidence is flawed and misleading, concluding that there is no legitimate reason to prohibit its use. [6]

Health Advantages of Carrageenan

Carrageenan is a seaweed extract that has lots of uses in the foods we consume every day. Similar to flour or starch, it can be utilized to thicken foods such as gravy. It prevents separation (think almond milk) by binding components together, enhances texture (it’s used 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 need.

On a dietary level, carrageenan is relatively neutral. Given that it is primarily fiber, it is indigestible in the body. Hence, carrageenan is utilized to boost your food experience without having a negative impact on your diet plan. Better yet, brand-new research study recommends that while carrageenan does not contain any vitamins or minerals, there might be other, lesser-known health advantages connected with this common component.

Below we look at 5 ways that among the world’s most popular food additives might be providing you with formally unrecognized health benefits.

Improved Gut Health

Results from a 2015 research study demonstrate a number of prebiotic effects related to carrageenan usage. Carrageenan, then, might positively affect the development of beneficial microbial neighborhoods in the digestive system. This can result in improved gut health and improved immune reactions. A separate study has also revealed that carrageenan may safeguard the intestinal lining from being worn away by alcohol, making it a possible defense against stomach ulcers.

Antioxidant Support

Studies suggest that carrageenan may show antioxidant activity, implying that it neutralizes free radicals, which can cause significant damage in the body if left unchecked. Free radicals have actually been repeatedly linked to a variety of health problems (including diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, age-related eye illness, and even cancer), making the antioxidant properties of carrageenan potentially extremely substantial.

Decreased Cholesterol Levels

High levels of bad cholesterol can result in atherosclerosis, which can increase the probability of heart attacks or strokes. A research study on the cholesterol-related impacts of carrageenan suggested that a diet that regularly includes carrageenan might lead to lower blood cholesterol and lipid levels, beyond that of typical dietary fibers.

A 2nd study supports these findings and notes that carrageenan can be used not just to help avoid atherosclerosis, however likewise as a treatment for heart disease.

Treatment for Cold and Influenza

In the United States alone, there are hundreds of millions of cases of the common cold every year, with adults balancing two to three cases, and kids experiencing much more. Despite the discomfort of having the influenza, most people have actually come to expect a bout with the influenza as a normal yearly occurrence. We have come to accept that there merely is no chance to avoid or cure the common cold.

Maybe that is not as set in stone as we once believed. A current study out of Austria recognizes possible antiviral homes associated with carrageenan. A few of the same residential or commercial properties that make carrageenan valuable as a thickener in foods also make it an effective treatment when used as a component in nasal sprays. The study recommends that carrageenan gel can adhering straight to infections, preventing them from connecting to the nasal wall, and limiting their ability to propagate.

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

One of the most appealing elements of these medical findings is that carrageenan seems to be reliable, no matter the specific cold infection being targeted. That is probably why carrageenan is already being used in many over-the-counter nasal sprays in Europe.

Healthy Alternative to Unhealthy Foods

Food additives do simply that– they include something to a typical food item. Often, however, the most essential function they provide is that through replacing a component. As discussed formerly, carrageenan can be used to enhance the taste and texture of slim, low-sodium, and low-sugar foods.

Unlike similar active ingredients, carrageenan is both natural and vegan. As such, in addition to enhancing texture, preventing separation, and keeping foods fresh and satisfying for longer amount of times, carrageenan also offers the option of a healthier food that still tastes good, without a few of the potentially unethical procedures of other, animal-based, additives, not to mention the calories that feature routine fat.

While you might currently recognize with the word “carrageenan,” thanks to recent research studies, this innovative food component is ready to discover new life beyond the label. We are only now starting to find other advantages of carrageenan, and as scientists put this basic seaweed extract under the microscopic lense, its advantages are really beginning to build up. [7]

Carrageenan types

Chondrus crispusactually contains a mix of carrageenan types, the primary ones being kappa and lambda. Today Newfoundland is one of the main sources of chondrus crispus however it is not a significant 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 types utilized in the extraction of carrageenan. Gigartina is wild harvested in numerous forms consisting of Gigartina Skottsbergii off the coast of Argentina and Chile, Gigartina Stellata from the coast of France. Gigartina is a combined weed type. Unlike in some weed types Gigartina has the different carrageenan types actually mixed up along the 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 contain mixes of kappa, iota and lambda carrageenan. Hybrid weed species are frequently chosen in some dairy applications.

Eucheuma is a pacific specie and is available in two significant industrial forms, Eucheuma Cottonii andeucheuma Spinosum. Unlike the other weed types the Eucheuma types are relatively pure in the carrageenan type they contain. Cottonii is primarily kappa carrageenan and Spinosum is mostly iota carrageenan.This enables greater versatility in formula because you are not restricted to the ratios of kappa and iota that occur to take place in the native weedstock. The largest commercial source of Eucheuma is the Philippines where the weed is really farmed instead of wild collected. Other significant sources consist of Indonesia and to a lesser level Africa and the pacific islands.

Hypnea and furcellaran are other kinds of carrageenan that are seen sometimes. The category of seaweeds is still a confused topic and lots of other names are likewise heard these names are used interchangeably in the industry. For example Eucheuma Cottonii is frequently referred to as Kappaphycus Alvarezei and although this might not be technically correct it prevails practise. [8]

Alternatives to carrageenan

In the U.S., any items which contain carrageenan needs to note it as a component. A person ought to have the ability to prevent carrageenan by inspecting labeling thoroughly.

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

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

When a beverage that tends to separate, such as chocolate milk, does not include a stabilizer, an individual may need to shake the bottle. This does not affect the quality or safety of the item. [9]

Is Carrageenan Safe to Take In?

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

Carrageenan gets its name from seaweed that grows along the coast of Ireland near a town named Carragheen. But most of the carrageenan utilized in food processing comes from Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and other Pacific Islands.

It’s categorized as GRAS by the United States Fda, which authorized its usage back in 1961.1 GRAS represents “usually recognized as safe.” It’s been used safely in food processing in the United States for more than fifty years.

Some individuals believe that intake of carrageenan may threaten, but this belief is mostly based on research studies that have since been refuted.

Is Carrageenan Dangerous?

In 2001, questions were raised about the capacity for carrageenan to be a health hazard since one scientist’s laboratory tests recommended direct exposure to big quantities of abject carrageenan caused digestive damage in some species of rodents and primates.

But the substance utilized in those studies, deteriorated carrageenan, isn’t the same as the carrageenan utilized in food. Degraded carrageenan is properly described as poligeenan. It’s completely various and doesn’t have the same residential or commercial properties as carrageenan, so it’s not utilized in food.

Some customers believe that consuming foods which contain carrageenan triggers them to have digestive issues due to inflammation. This is based on research studies involving guinea pigs. However the inflammation triggered by the carrageenan specified to guinea pigs and didn’t take place in other animal types.

What Is the Anti-Inflammatory Diet plan?

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

Obviously, it is essential to watch on any substances used in food production. The Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA). Which is formed by Food and Farming Company (FAO) and the World Health Company (WHO) of the United Nations, has actually evaluated the research study worrying carrageenan as a component in infant formula and discovered no reason for issue at concentrations up to 1000 milligrams per liter. Consuming carrageenan in high amounts would typically be done under medical supervision. [10]

Adverse effects

When taken by mouth: Carrageenan is typically consumed in foods. A broken down type called poligeenan is possibly risky. It may damage the colon and trigger bleeding and cancer. However this threat hasn’t been shown in humans. Likewise, carrageenan products found in the US and Europe can just consist of a very percentage of this broken down form.

When sprayed into the nose: Carrageenan is possibly safe for the majority of people when utilized for up to 7 days.

When applied to the skin: There isn’t sufficient reliable details to know if carrageenan is safe. It might trigger negative effects such as discomfort.

Unique Precautions and Warnings

  • When taken by mouth: Carrageenan is typically consumed in foods. A broken down kind called poligeenan is potentially hazardous. It may damage the colon and trigger bleeding and cancer. But this threat hasn’t been displayed in humans. Also, carrageenan products discovered in the US and Europe can only consist of an extremely percentage of this broken down kind.
  • When sprayed into the nose: Carrageenan is perhaps safe for most people when utilized for up to 7 days.
  • When applied to the skin: There isn’t enough trustworthy info to understand if carrageenan is safe. It may trigger adverse effects such as discomfort.
  • Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Carrageenan is typically consumed in foods. There isn’t enough trustworthy information to know if it’s safe in the larger quantities used as medicine. Remain on the safe side and adhere to food quantities.
  • Bleeding conditions: Carrageenan might slow blood clotting and boost bleeding. Carrageenan might make bleeding conditions worse.
  • Surgical treatment: Carrageenan might slow blood clotting in some people. Carrageenan may increase the risk for bleeding and hinder blood pressure control during surgeries. Stop utilizing carrageenan at least 2 weeks prior to a set up surgery.
  • Ulcerative colitis: Carrageenan might increase the threat of relapse 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 Score: Moderate Beware with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Carrageenan may reduce blood pressure. Taking carrageenan together with medications for hypertension might trigger your high blood pressure to go too low.

Some medications for high blood pressure include captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), Amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (hydrodiuril), furosemide (Lasix), and numerous others.


The suitable dose of carrageenan depends upon a number of aspects such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is insufficient scientific info to determine a suitable series of doses for carrageenan. Bear in mind that natural items are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be essential. Be sure to follow pertinent instructions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other health care specialist prior to using. [12]


Carrageenan is an additive made from parts of numerous red algae or red seaweed. It is a natural component gotten from red seaweed.

Carrageenan has actually been in the debate for a very long time over the safety of usage. A few of making uses of carrageenan consist of binding components together, enhancing the texture and helps yogurt to taste just as excellent. Considering that carrageenan is mostly fiber, it is fairly neutral on a nutritional level.

Carrageenan is used to boost the food experience without having any hazardous effects on the diet plan.

Carrageenan, which is processed with acid, develops a substance called degraded carrageenan, or poligeenan, which has considerable health cautions. Poligeenan is an inflammatory compound and is used to evaluate new anti-inflammatory drugs in the laboratory.

Poligeenan is considered dangerous and is not authorized as a food additive. Research recommends that poligeenan can trigger gut growths and ulcers, and has the potential to even activate colon cancer. International Company for Research Study in Cancer has actually listed poligeenan as a possible human carcinogen.

The studies are not conclusive with respect to the amount of abject carrageenan that threatens. Due to the prospective threat, there is hardly any research study, which has been performed to evaluate people.

The bottom line is that if there is an interest in regard to the side effects of carrageenan, it is better to take it out of the diet plan and expect any enhancement. It can be easily discovered noted under the product’s ingredients so that procedures can be taken to either prevent or include it to the diet plan.

Consulting a doctor is encouraged to come to a conclusion if the ingredient requires to be included or gotten rid of from the diet plan. [13]


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