Carrageenan is a colloid drawn out from different 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 kind of red seaweed known as Chondrus crispus. Archaeologists approximate humans have been harvesting seaweed, like Chondrus crispus, for nearly 14,000 years. Evidence of red seaweed’s medicinal 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 abundantly along the rocky shoreline of the Atlantic, consisting of the coasts of the British Isles, The United States And Canada and Europe. This seaweed is especially plentiful along Ireland’s rocky coastline, where it has been cultivated for hundreds of years for both its gelling homes in foods in addition to supposed medicinal purposes. In fact, carrageenan’s name comes from Carrigan Head, a cape near Northern Ireland, the title of which was inspired by the Irish word “carraigín,” which translates to “little rock.” In the 19th century, the Irish believed carrageenan might cure sick calves in addition to human colds, flu and blockage. Initially, the seaweed was gathered and set out to dry. Then it was washed and boiled before being contributed to flans, tonics and even beer. Used likewise to gelatin, carrageenan ended up being a key 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 regional markets.

The Irish Potato Famine

Carrageenan was also utilized to fight nutritional shortages in the 1800s during the Irish Potato Famine. The red seaweed was added to warmed milk with sugar and spices to develop a fortified drink. This beverage is still consumed today in both Ireland and the Caribbean. As Irish immigrants got away scarcity and came to the United States, the first American seaweed farming production was developed off the coast of Massachusetts. Nevertheless, it wasn’t till World War II, when a comparable ingredient called agar was no longer offered, that carrageenan skyrocketed in popularity in the US food supply. [2]

Did you know?

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

Formally understood by its species name as Chondrus crispus, Irish moss is also referred to as red algae or sea moss. The thin, flat, reddish-purple leaves branch off in a duplicating pattern from a central stem and the plant grows mainly in the cooler waters of the eastern and western northern Atlantic ocean.

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

What is the procedure of carrageenan?

Centuries earlier, the Irish would make carrageenan in their kitchens by boiling salt, seaweed, and alcohol. Then, they would blend those 3 components to launch natural carrageenan.

Since then, the procedure utilized to manufacture carrageenan is extremely similar and still, very minimal, meaning it remains close to the natural kind. First, the seaweed is put in boiling water that is somewhat 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, chopped, and ground into a great carrageenan powder.

What foods and drinks utilize carrageenan?

Carrageenan is an essential ingredient in a lot of the foods and beverages taken in every day. It’s likewise widely used in the food market, primarily as a thickener and gelling representative. Generally you’ll find it in foods such as those tasty 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 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 factors. First, it is used in ice cream to give it the smooth, velvety texture that all of us understand and like. Because yummy chocolate milk and nuttylicious almond milk, carrageenan is used 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 used as a chocolate stabilizer, it is also utilized to support and suspend nutrients in liquid infant formula to make sure babies get the nutrition they need. Another use is that it can decrease the sugar material in jams and jellies, lower sodium in lunch meats while keeping them moist and fresh, and enhance and safeguard the overall nutritional value in a number of foods without compromising taste. [3]


Carrageenans are big, highly versatile particles that form curling helical structures. This gives them the ability to form a range of various gels at space temperature level. They are widely utilized in the food and other industries as thickening and supporting agents.

All carrageenans are high-molecular-weight polysaccharides and generally 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 repeating system of carrageenans.

There are 3 main business classes of carrageenan:.

Kappa kinds strong, stiff gels in the presence of potassium ions, and reacts with dairy proteins. It is sourced mainly 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 used to thicken dairy items.

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

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

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

When used in food products, 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 known by a variety 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 type of jelly similar to panna cotta, tapioca, or blancmange. [4]

Which foods have carrageenan?

Carrageenan tends to be in vegan and vegetarian items. Since it’s a plant, producers utilize it to replace gelatin, which is made from animal parts.

Typical sources of carrageenan.

  • Chocolate milk
  • Cottage cheese
  • Cream
  • Ice cream
  • Almond milk
  • Diary 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 need to fret about missing anything when you remove foods containing it. Finding replacements for vegetarian or vegan foods without carrageenan is possible. Just remember that carrageenan-free milks may separate. This is natural. All you need to do is shake well prior to putting.

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

The Carrageenan Debate

Carrageenan has actually been used in conventional food preparation for hundreds of years and is an active ingredient in many natural and vegan foods. And now critics are calling for a restriction. Is carrageenan safe? Nutrition Queen sorts through the evidence

Who would have thought that this ancient, natural, plant-based active ingredient would end up being center of a swirling controversy? But it definitely has. Some researchers have provided evidence that carrageenan is extremely inflammatory and hazardous to the digestion tract, and claim that it may be reponsible for colitis, IBS, rheumatoid arthritis, and even colon cancer. Similarly respected scientists have actually detailed the reasons that this proof is flawed and deceptive, concluding that there is no legitimate factor to prohibit its usage. [6]

Health Benefits of Carrageenan

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

On a dietary level, carrageenan is fairly neutral. Because it is primarily fiber, it is indigestible in the human body. Thus, carrageenan is utilized to boost your food experience without having an unfavorable effect on your diet. Even better, brand-new research study recommends that while carrageenan does not consist of any vitamins or minerals, there may be other, lesser-known health benefits associated with this common ingredient.

Listed below we take a look at five ways that among the world’s most popular food additives might be supplying you with formally unacknowledged health benefits.

Improved Gut Health

Results from a 2015 research study show a variety of prebiotic results related to carrageenan intake. Carrageenan, then, may positively affect the advancement of beneficial microbial neighborhoods in the digestion system. This can result in boosted gut health and improved immune reactions. A separate study has actually also revealed that carrageenan may safeguard the digestive tract lining from being worn away by alcohol, making it a possible defense versus stomach ulcers.

Antioxidant Support

Studies suggest that carrageenan might show antioxidant activity, meaning that it reduces the effects of totally free radicals, which can cause considerable damage in the body if left unattended. Free radicals have actually been repeatedly connected to a number of health issues (including diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, age-related eye illness, and even cancer), making the antioxidant properties of carrageenan potentially extremely significant.

Decreased Cholesterol Levels

High levels of bad cholesterol can result in atherosclerosis, which can increase the likelihood of cardiac arrest or strokes. A research study on the cholesterol-related effects of carrageenan suggested that a diet that regularly incorporates carrageenan might result in lower blood cholesterol and lipid levels, beyond that of regular dietary fibers.

A second study supports these findings and notes that carrageenan can be used not only to assist avoid atherosclerosis, however also as a treatment for cardiovascular disease.

Treatment for Acute Rhinitis and Flu

In the United States alone, there are numerous millions of cases of the common cold every year, with grownups balancing 2 to 3 cases, and children experiencing a lot more. Regardless of the discomfort of having the influenza, many people have actually come to expect a bout with the flu as a regular annual occurrence. We have concerned accept that there merely is no way to avoid or treat the cold.

Possibly that is not as set in stone as we as soon as thought. A recent study out of Austria determines potential antiviral properties related to carrageenan. A few of the very same homes that make carrageenan important as a thickener in foods also make it a reliable treatment when utilized as a component in nasal sprays. The research study suggests that carrageenan gel can adhering straight to viruses, avoiding them from attaching to the nasal wall, and limiting their ability to propagate.

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

Among the most promising aspects of these medical findings is that carrageenan appears to be reliable, no matter the particular cold infection being targeted. That is most likely why carrageenan is already being used in numerous over the counter nasal sprays in Europe.

Healthy Alternative to Unhealthy Foods

Food additives do simply that– they include something to a typical food product. Sometimes, however, the most essential function they provide is that through changing a component. As discussed previously, carrageenan can be utilized to improve the taste and texture of low fat, low-sodium, and low-sugar foods.

Unlike similar components, carrageenan is both natural and vegan. As such, in addition to enhancing texture, avoiding separation, and keeping foods fresh and satisfying for longer periods of time, carrageenan also offers the choice of a healthier food that still tastes great, without some of the potentially unethical processes of other, animal-based, additives, not to mention the calories that feature routine fat.

While you may already be familiar with the word “carrageenan,” thanks to recent studies, this innovative food active ingredient is ready to discover brand-new life beyond the label. We are only now beginning to find other benefits of carrageenan, and as researchers put this easy seaweed extract under the microscopic lense, its benefits are actually beginning to accumulate. [7]

Carrageenan types

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

Gigartina is one of the significant species used in the extraction of carrageenan. Gigartina is wild collected in various forms including 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 really mixed up along the very same polymer chain in a ‘hybrid’ type of polymer. Iridaea is another kind of South American weed discovered off the coast of Chile. Both of these weed types include mixes of kappa, iota and lambda carrageenan. Hybrid weed types are typically preferred in some dairy applications.

Eucheuma is a pacific specie and comes in two significant commercial types, Eucheuma Cottonii andeucheuma Spinosum. Unlike the other weed types the Eucheuma types are relatively pure in the carrageenan type they consist of. Cottonii is primarily kappa carrageenan and Spinosum is mainly iota carrageenan.This allows greater flexibility in solution because you are not restricted to the ratios of kappa and iota that occur to take place in the native weedstock. The biggest business source of Eucheuma is the Philippines where the weed is actually farmed rather than wild gathered. Other major sources include Indonesia and to a lesser degree Africa and the pacific islands.

Hypnea and furcellaran are other types of carrageenan that are seen occasionally. The category of seaweeds is still a confused subject and lots of other names are likewise heard these names are utilized interchangeably in the industry. For instance Eucheuma Cottonii is typically referred to as Kappaphycus Alvarezei and although this might not be technically appropriate it prevails practise. [8]

Alternatives to carrageenan

In the U.S., any products that contain carrageenan needs to note it as an ingredient. A person ought to have the ability to prevent carrageenan by inspecting labeling thoroughly.

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 include a stabilizer, a person might need to shake the bottle. This does not affect the quality or safety of the product. [9]

Is Carrageenan Safe to Consume?

Carrageenan is a water-soluble fiber found in particular types of seaweed. It forms a gel, so it can add 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, pastry shop items, cereals, salad dressings, sauces, and junk food.

Carrageenan gets its name from seaweed that grows along the coast of Ireland near a town named Carragheen. But 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 Fda, which authorized its usage back in 1961.1 GRAS stands for “generally recognized as safe.” It’s been utilized securely in food processing in the United States for more than fifty years.

Some people believe that usage of carrageenan may be dangerous, but this belief is mostly based on studies that have actually given that been refuted.

Is Carrageenan Dangerous?

In 2001, questions were raised about the potential for carrageenan to be a health hazard due to the fact that one scientist’s laboratory tests recommended direct exposure to large amounts of abject carrageenan caused digestive damage in some species of rodents and primates.

But the compound utilized in those studies, degraded carrageenan, isn’t the same as the carrageenan utilized in food products. Degraded carrageenan is properly referred to as poligeenan. It’s entirely various and does not have the same properties as carrageenan, so it’s not used in food products.

Some customers believe that eating foods that contain carrageenan triggers them to have gastrointestinal issues due to inflammation. This is based upon studies including guinea pigs. But the swelling brought on by the carrageenan was specific to guinea pigs and didn’t occur in other animal species.

What Is the Anti-Inflammatory Diet?

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

Obviously, it is very important to watch on any substances used in food manufacturing. 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 examined the research worrying carrageenan as a component in infant formula and found no reason for concern at concentrations approximately 1000 milligrams per liter. Consuming carrageenan in high quantities would generally be done under medical supervision. [10]

Negative effects

When taken by mouth: Carrageenan is typically consumed in foods. A broken down form called poligeenan is potentially hazardous. It may damage the colon and cause bleeding and cancer. But this risk hasn’t been shown in humans. Also, carrageenan products discovered in the United States and Europe can just consist of a very percentage of this broken down kind.

When sprayed into the nose: Carrageenan is potentially safe for most people when utilized for approximately 7 days.

When applied to the skin: There isn’t enough trusted info to know if carrageenan is safe. It may cause adverse effects such as pain.

Special Precautions and Cautions

  • When taken by mouth: Carrageenan is commonly consumed in foods. A broken down form called poligeenan is potentially hazardous. It might harm the colon and cause bleeding and cancer. But this danger hasn’t been displayed in people. Also, carrageenan products discovered in the United States and Europe can only include a really small amount of this broken down form.
  • When sprayed into the nose: Carrageenan is potentially safe for the majority of people when utilized for up to 7 days.
  • When applied to the skin: There isn’t enough dependable information to know if carrageenan is safe. It might trigger negative effects such as discomfort.
  • Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Carrageenan is commonly consumed in foods. There isn’t adequate trusted information to understand if it’s safe in the bigger amounts utilized as medication. Remain on the safe side and stick to food quantities.
  • Bleeding disorders: Carrageenan might slow blood clot and increase bleeding. Carrageenan may make bleeding disorders worse.
  • Surgery: Carrageenan might slow blood clotting in some individuals. Carrageenan might increase the threat for bleeding and interfere with high blood pressure control throughout surgical procedures. Stop using carrageenan at least 2 weeks before a set up surgery.
  • Ulcerative colitis: Carrageenan may increase the risk of regression in individuals with ulcerative colitis who remain in remission and are on a carrageenan-free diet. [11]


Medications for hypertension (Antihypertensive drugs) Interaction Score: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Carrageenan may decrease high blood pressure. Taking carrageenan in addition to medications for high blood pressure might trigger your 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 lots of others.


The suitable dose of carrageenan depends on a number of factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to identify an appropriate series of doses for carrageenan. Bear in mind that natural products are not constantly necessarily safe and does can be crucial. Be sure to follow appropriate directions on item labels and consult your pharmacist or doctor or other healthcare professional before utilizing. [12]


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

Carrageenan has remained in the dispute for a very long time over the safety of usage. Some of the uses of carrageenan consist of binding active ingredients together, enhancing the texture and assists yogurt to taste just as great. Considering that carrageenan is mostly fiber, it is reasonably neutral on a dietary level.

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

Carrageenan, which is processed with acid, creates a compound called abject carrageenan, or poligeenan, which has considerable health warnings. Poligeenan is an inflammatory substance and is utilized to evaluate new anti-inflammatory drugs in the laboratory.

Poligeenan is considered hazardous and is not approved as a food additive. Research recommends that poligeenan can cause gut growths and ulcers, and has the potential to even activate colon cancer. International Firm for Research in Cancer has noted poligeenan as a possible human carcinogen.

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

The bottom line is that if there is a concern with respect to the side results of carrageenan, it is better to take it out of the diet plan and expect any improvement. It can be quickly found listed under the product’s ingredients so that procedures can be required to either avoid or include it to the diet.

Consulting a doctor is recommended to come to a conclusion if the ingredient needs to be included or eliminated from the diet. [13]


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