There are not many ingredients which are as useful as Carrageenan. Derived from a seaweed, it is used in vegan diets as a replacement for chemically made gelatin, which is used in making desserts. In any kind of cooked meat, it helps in retaining the moisture, and it is also used in suspending the chocolate in flavored milks so that the constituents don’t get separated. Foods in which carrageenan is used remain delicious for a longer period of time and so, one does not have to throw them away. It has such a varied usage that probably you have been consuming it every day without even knowing about it.
Seaweeds are known for the benefits they have for human body. Carrageenan is completely naturally made, from a kind of red algae which grows mostly in the norther Atlantic Ocean. It is processed by boiling it in non-acidic broth, and then transformed into a fine powder-like substance which is then used as ingredients in several foods. You can even do the entire thing in your own house kitchen, the process is that simple. The ingredient has become an inherent part of every Irish household for centuries now. Basically an additive, it is used just like salt and pepper. You don’t need to be alarmed about eating it, rather it is healthy for you.
There have been several concerns raised about consuming Carrageenan. Popular websites which review foods and well-being have published a lot of articles writing about it not being safe. These articles are absolutely unreliable. Nobody among these people what they are writing about, guided mostly by misinformation. While it is true that it is actually difficult to figure out whether the information is true or not, carrageenan is 100% safe for you.
The confusion often arises because carrageenan is confused with poligeenan, which is used in imaging. The kind of carrageenan which is used in foods are not degraded ones. It is just prepared from seaweed by a very simple process. However, the ones which degrade and turn to poligeenan are not fit to be consumed by humans. These are treated in acids and they are normally used for imaging purposes. Earlier, poligeenan was simply called degraded carrageenan, and so the confusion stemmed from there. Nowadays, to clear the air, the name has been changed to poligeenan.
For those who are still wondering if there is any chance that the degraded and non-degraded ones could get mixed together, the answer is no. There is absolutely no way in which that may happen. The way poligeenan is made – it is prepared at 194 degree Fahrenheit for a period of 6 hours. The solution is acidic in nature. For this, one needs a completely different setup than one needs for carrageenan, which has an absolutely different preparation process. There are rumors that the acid in our body turns carrageenan into poligeenan, however that is not true. Our body temperature is 99degrees Fahrenheit, much lower than the one required for poligeenan preparation.
So is carrageenan safe? Absolutely. For more information on carrageenan, you may click here.