Carrageenans or carrageenins are a family of linear sulphated polysaccharides that are extracted from red edible seaweeds. They are widely used in the food industry, for their gelling, thickening, and stabilizing properties.
Undegraded carrageenan – the type that is widely used in foods – has been associated with malignancies and other stomach problems.
Research has shown that exposure to carrageenan causes inflammation and that when we consume processed foods containing it, we ingest enough to cause inflammation in our bodies. That’s a problem since chronic inflammation is a root cause of many serious diseases including heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and cancer.
DID YOU KNOW ?
Drug investigators used carrageenan to cause inflammation in tissues to test the anti-inflammatory properties of new drugs.
When laboratory mice are exposed to low concentrations of carrageenan for 18 days, they develop “profound” glucose intolerance and impaired insulin action, both of which can lead to diabetes.
All told, as far as carrageenan safety goes, I recommend avoiding regular consumption of foods containing carrageenan. This is especially valuable advice for persons with inflammatory bowel disease.
Andrew Weil, M.D.