OK. I’m totally surprised by this one. I was exploring the Web for something unrelated and was floored when I found information about the ill health effects of a really commonly added food ingredient.
I’m still in shock as I write this because I truly had no idea that we should be concerned about this particular ingredient. It’s in so many packaged foods…even some labeled organic. And, although it has been revealed through some scientific studies to be harmful, it’s still being widely used!
We all went through the MSG era when we used to add it to everything and then found out it caused feelings of flushing and fatigue for some people. So no more MSG. Then we became aware of how bad partially hydrogenated anything was, so we read labels and started avoiding products that contained the stuff. But this one?? I’m reeling!
It’s called carrageenan, and it comes from a particular type of seaweed called Irish Moss. Its purpose as an ingredient in food is to act as an emulsifier or thickening agent. That may seem innocent enough, but animal studies have found it to cause blood sugar levels to become dangerously elevated. Such studies have also found carrageenan to cause intestinal and systemic inflammation. Not innocent at all.
To illustrate just how common this additive really is, here is a list of common food items compiled by www.care2.com that carrageenan is added to:
Cream and Butter
Soy, almond, and rice milk
Vegan cheese alternatives
Aloe vera gel
…and many other packaged foods.
Additionally, some supplements, particularly those involving gel caps, commonly contain carrageenan. And, most grocery store rotisserie chickens typically contain the additive as well.
I’m both upset as well as glad I discovered this. I’m upset because it is such a common ingredient that now it’s going to be more difficult than ever for us careful shoppers to make healthy food choices. On the other hand, I’m truly glad because we are now on alert about carrageenan and I hope you’ll share this important information with others.