A colloid extracted from various red algae (such as Irish moss) and utilized specifically as a supporting or thickening representative. [1]

Irish Moss: The History of Carrageenan’s Roots

Chondrus crispus

Carrageenan is made from a kind of red seaweed referred to as Chondrus crispus. Archaeologists approximate people have been gathering seaweed, like Chondrus crispus, for almost 14,000 years. Evidence of red seaweed’s medical advantages in China can be traced back to 600 BC, and it was initially 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 generously along the rocky shoreline of the Atlantic, including the coasts of the British Isles, The United States And Canada and Europe. This seaweed is specifically abundant along Ireland’s rocky shoreline, where it has actually been cultivated for centuries for both its gelling properties in foods in addition to purported medical functions. In fact, carrageenan’s name originates from Carrigan Head, a cape near Northern Ireland, the title of which was inspired by the Irish word “carraig√≠n,” which equates to “little rock.” In the 19th century, the Irish believed carrageenan could treat sick calves in addition to human colds, flu and blockage. Initially, the seaweed was harvested and set out to dry. Then it was cleaned and boiled before being contributed to flans, tonics and even beer. Utilized similarly to gelatin, carrageenan became a key component in the classic 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 local markets.

The Irish Potato Starvation

Carrageenan was likewise utilized to combat dietary shortages in the 1800s during the Irish Potato Starvation. The red seaweed was contributed to warmed milk with sugar and spices to produce a prepared drink. This drink is still consumed today in both Ireland and the Caribbean. As Irish immigrants got away famine and came to the United States, the first American seaweed farming production was established off the coast of Massachusetts. However, it wasn’t till World War II, when a comparable component called agar was no longer readily available, that carrageenan soared in appeal in the United States food supply. [2]

Did you understand?

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

Formally known 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 main stem and the plant grows mainly in the chillier waters of the eastern and western northern Atlantic ocean.

Merely Delish has gone to excellent lengths and sourced the highest grade we might source which is NON-GMO verified carrageenan for our incredible Simply Delish Jel Dessert items. Our mission is to just source the best and most safe 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 kitchens by boiling salt, seaweed, and alcohol. Then, they would blend those three ingredients to release natural carrageenan.

Ever since, the process used to produce carrageenan is really similar and still, very minimal, implying it remains near the natural kind. Initially, 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 beverages use carrageenan?

Carrageenan is a necessary active ingredient in a lot of the foods and beverages taken in every day. It’s also widely used in the food market, mostly as a thickener and gelling representative. Usually you’ll find it in foods such as those scrumptious plant-based milk, like nuts and soy milk, to deli meats, protein shakes/powders, chocolate milk, yogurts, popsicles, ready meals such as frozen burritos and pizza, ice cream, and infant formula.

Unlike gelatin, which originates from animal items, 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 utilized in ice cream to give it the smooth, velvety texture that we all understand and love. Because tasty 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 utilized as a chocolate stabilizer, it is also utilized to stabilize and suspend nutrients in liquid infant formula to make certain babies get the nutrition they need. Another use is that it can decrease the sugar material in jams and jellies, decrease sodium in lunch meats while keeping them wet and fresh, and improve and protect the general dietary value in several foods without sacrificing taste. [3]


Carrageenans are large, highly versatile molecules that form curling helical structures. This gives them the ability to form a range of various gels at room temperature. They are extensively used in the food and other markets as thickening and supporting representatives.

All carrageenans are high-molecular-weight polysaccharides and mainly comprised of rotating 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 3 primary commercial classes of carrageenan:.

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

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

Lambda does not gel, and is used to thicken dairy products.

The primary differences that influence the residential or commercial 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 level of the carrageenan and produce lower strength gels, or contribute to gel inhibition (lambda carrageenan).

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

All are soluble in hot water, but in cold water, just the lambda kind (and the sodium salts of the other two) are soluble.

When used in food, carrageenan has the EU additive E numbers E407 or E407a when present as “processed eucheuma seaweed”. Technically carrageenan is considered a dietary fiber.

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 stretched, 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, makers utilize it to change gelatin, which is made from animal parts.

Common 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 out on anything when you remove foods containing it. Finding replacements for vegetarian or vegan foods without carrageenan is possible. Simply keep in mind that carrageenan-free milks might separate. This is natural. All you have to do is shake well before putting.

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

The Carrageenan Debate

Carrageenan has been used in standard food preparation for hundreds of years and is a component in many organic and vegan foods. But now critics are calling for a restriction. Is carrageenan safe? Nutrition Diva sorts through the proof

Who would have believed that this ancient, natural, plant-based component would become center of a swirling debate? However it definitely has. Some researchers have actually provided evidence that carrageenan is highly inflammatory and poisonous to the digestive tract, and claim that it might be reponsible for colitis, IBS, rheumatoid arthritis, and even colon cancer. Equally appreciated scientists have actually detailed the factors that this proof is flawed and misleading, concluding that there is no legitimate factor to prohibit its use. [6]

Health Advantages of Carrageenan

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

On a nutritional level, carrageenan is fairly neutral. Since it is mostly fiber, it is indigestible in the body. Therefore, carrageenan is utilized to improve your food experience without having an unfavorable influence on your diet plan. Better yet, brand-new research study recommends that while carrageenan does not contain any vitamins or minerals, there may be other, lesser-known health benefits connected with this common active ingredient.

Listed below we look at 5 ways that one of the world’s most popular food additives might be supplying you with formally unrecognized health benefits.

Improved Gut Health

Arise from a 2015 study show a number of prebiotic effects associated with carrageenan consumption. Carrageenan, then, may positively affect the development of useful microbial neighborhoods in the gastrointestinal tract. This can result in boosted gut health and improved immune actions. A different study has actually likewise shown that carrageenan may safeguard the digestive lining from being worn away by alcohol, making it a possible defense versus stomach ulcers.

Antioxidant Support

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

Minimized Cholesterol Levels

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

A second research study supports these findings and notes that carrageenan can be used not just to assist prevent atherosclerosis, however likewise as a treatment for cardiovascular disease.

Treatment for Common Cold and Influenza

In the United States alone, there are numerous countless cases of the common cold every year, with grownups balancing 2 to 3 cases, and children experiencing much more. In spite of the discomfort of having the influenza, the majority of people have actually concerned anticipate a bout with the flu as a regular yearly occurrence. We have actually concerned accept that there merely is no way to avoid or cure the common cold.

Perhaps that is not as set in stone as we once thought. A recent study out of Austria identifies possible antiviral properties connected with carrageenan. Some of the same residential or commercial properties that make carrageenan important as a thickener in foods likewise make it an efficient treatment when used as an active ingredient in nasal sprays. The study suggests that carrageenan gel is capable of sticking straight to infections, avoiding them from connecting to the nasal wall, and limiting their ability to propagate.

A different study also concluded that carrageenan-based nasal spray might be effective as a treatment for influenza, even when the treatment starts well after infection.

Among the most appealing elements of these medical findings is that carrageenan appears to be reliable, no matter the particular cold virus being targeted. That is most likely why carrageenan is currently being used in many non-prescription nasal sprays in Europe.

Healthy Alternative to Unhealthy Foods

Food additives do simply that– they add something to a common food item. Sometimes, however, the most important function they provide is that through changing an active ingredient. As pointed out formerly, carrageenan can be used to improve the taste and texture of slim, low-sodium, and low-sugar foods.

Unlike similar ingredients, carrageenan is both organic and vegan. As such, in addition to improving texture, preventing separation, and keeping foods fresh and satisfying for longer periods of time, carrageenan also offers the choice of a much healthier food that still tastes great, without a few of the potentially dishonest processes of other, animal-based, ingredients, not to mention the calories that include regular fat.

While you may currently recognize with the word “carrageenan,” thanks to current studies, this innovative food component is ready to discover brand-new life beyond the label. We are only now beginning to discover other benefits of carrageenan, and as scientists put this basic seaweed extract under the microscopic lense, its benefits are actually beginning to build up. [7]

Carrageenan types

Chondrus crispusactually contains a mix of carrageenan types, the predominant ones being kappa and lambda. Today Newfoundland is among the primary sources of chondrus crispus however it is not a major source of carrageenan in world terms. Chondrus Crispus is wild harvested and not farmed. The only farmed Chondrus Crispus is used in the cooking market.

Gigartina is among the significant types utilized in the extraction of carrageenan. Gigartina is wild gathered in different kinds including Gigartina Skottsbergii off the coast of Argentina and Chile, Gigartina Stellata from the coast of France. Gigartina is a blended weed type. Unlike in some weed types Gigartina has the different carrageenan types in fact mixed up along the very 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 include mixes of kappa, iota and lambda carrageenan. Hybrid weed species are frequently preferred in some dairy applications.

Eucheuma is a pacific specie and is available in 2 major business types, Eucheuma Cottonii andeucheuma Spinosum. Unlike the other weed types the Eucheuma types are fairly pure in the carrageenan type they include. Cottonii is mainly kappa carrageenan and Spinosum is largely iota carrageenan.This allows greater flexibility in solution due to the fact that you are not limited to the ratios of kappa and iota that occur to occur in the native weedstock. The largest commercial source of Eucheuma is the Philippines where the weed is in fact farmed instead of wild harvested. Other significant sources consist of Indonesia and to a lesser degree Africa and the pacific islands.

Hypnea and furcellaran are other types of carrageenan that are seen sometimes. The category of seaweeds is still a confused subject and numerous other names are also heard these names are utilized interchangeably in the industry. For example Eucheuma Cottonii is typically referred to as Kappaphycus Alvarezei and although this might not be technically appropriate it is common 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 be able to avoid carrageenan by examining labeling carefully.

Carrageenan’s texture-enhancing qualities, for instance, can be replicated utilizing:.

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

When a drink that tends to separate, such as chocolate milk, does not consist of 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 found in particular kinds of seaweed. It forms a gel, so it can include texture and the right “mouth-feel” for certain foods. For that reason, carrageenan is utilized as a thickener or stabilizer in products such as soy milk, ice cream, light whipping cream, cream cheese, pastry shop items, cereals, salad dressings, sauces, and snack foods.

Carrageenan gets its name from seaweed that grows along the coast of Ireland near a village called Carragheen. However the majority of the carrageenan used in food processing comes from Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, and other Pacific Islands.

It’s categorized as GRAS by the United States Food and Drug Administration, which authorized its use back in 1961.1 GRAS means “typically acknowledged as safe.” It’s been used securely in food processing in the United States for more than fifty years.

Some people think that intake of carrageenan may be dangerous, but this belief is primarily based on studies that have given that been refuted.

Is Carrageenan Dangerous?

In 2001, questions were raised about the potential for carrageenan to be a health hazard since one scientist’s lab tests suggested exposure to big amounts of degraded carrageenan triggered intestinal damage in some species of rodents and primates.

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

Some customers think that consuming foods that contain carrageenan triggers them to have digestive problems due to inflammation. This is based upon studies involving guinea pigs. However the swelling triggered by the carrageenan specified to guinea pigs and didn’t occur in other animal types.

What Is the Anti-Inflammatory Diet plan?

The research study that has actually been done because 2001 indicates food-grade carrageenan exposure does not trigger any damage to intestinal walls, nor does it break down into poligeenan throughout food processing or food digestion.

Naturally, it is essential to keep an eye on any substances utilized in food manufacturing. The Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA). Which is formed by Food and Farming Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) of the United Nations, has actually evaluated the research study concerning carrageenan as an active ingredient in infant formula and found no factor for issue at concentrations up to 1000 milligrams per liter. Consuming carrageenan in high quantities would typically be done under medical supervision. [10]

Side Effects

When taken by mouth: Carrageenan is commonly consumed in foods. A broken down type called poligeenan is potentially risky. It may harm the colon and trigger bleeding and cancer. However this threat hasn’t been shown in people. Also, carrageenan products found in the US and Europe can only include a really percentage of this broken down kind.

When sprayed into the nose: Carrageenan is possibly safe for most people when used for up to 7 days.

When applied to the skin: There isn’t sufficient trustworthy info to understand if carrageenan is safe. It may cause side effects such as discomfort.

Unique Preventative Measures and Warnings

  • When taken by mouth: Carrageenan is typically consumed in foods. A broken down kind called poligeenan is potentially unsafe. It might damage the colon and cause bleeding and cancer. But this threat hasn’t been displayed in people. Likewise, carrageenan items discovered in the United States and Europe can just consist of an extremely percentage of this broken down form.
  • When sprayed into the nose: Carrageenan is potentially safe for the majority of people when utilized for approximately 7 days.
  • When applied to the skin: There isn’t adequate trusted information to know if carrageenan is safe. It might trigger adverse effects such as pain.
  • Pregnancy and breast-feeding: Carrageenan is typically consumed in foods. There isn’t adequate reliable information to understand if it’s safe in the larger quantities used as medication. Stay on the safe side and stay with food amounts.
  • Bleeding conditions: Carrageenan might slow blood clotting and boost bleeding. Carrageenan may make bleeding disorders even worse.
  • Surgery: Carrageenan might slow blood clotting in some individuals. Carrageenan might increase the threat for bleeding and interfere with blood pressure control during surgeries. Stop using carrageenan a minimum of 2 weeks prior to a scheduled surgery.
  • Ulcerative colitis: Carrageenan may increase the risk of relapse in individuals with ulcerative colitis who are in remission and are on a carrageenan-free diet plan. [11]


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

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

Some medications for hypertension 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 several elements such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is insufficient scientific info to determine a proper variety of dosages for carrageenan. Remember that natural items are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be essential. Make sure to follow appropriate instructions on item labels and consult your pharmacist or doctor 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 remained in the debate for a long period of time over the safety of consumption. A few of the uses of carrageenan include binding ingredients together, enhancing the texture and assists yogurt to taste just as great. Because carrageenan is mostly fiber, it is relatively neutral on a nutritional level.

Carrageenan is utilized to enhance the food experience without having any damaging impacts on the diet.

Carrageenan, which is processed with acid, produces a compound called degraded carrageenan, or poligeenan, which has substantial health warnings. Poligeenan is an inflammatory substance and is used to check new anti-inflammatory drugs in the laboratory.

Poligeenan is thought about hazardous and is not authorized as a food additive. Research suggests that poligeenan can trigger gut growths and ulcers, and has the potential to even set off colon cancer. International Company for Research in Cancer has listed poligeenan as a possible human carcinogen.

The studies are not conclusive with respect to the amount of degraded carrageenan that threatens. Due to the potential risk, there is hardly any research, which has been performed to check humans.

The bottom line is that if there is a concern with respect to the side impacts of carrageenan, it is much better to take it out of the diet plan and expect any improvement. It can be quickly discovered noted under the item’s ingredients so that measures can be taken to either prevent or include it to the diet plan.

Consulting a physician is advised 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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