Did you know that carrageenan, which is sometimes used as a thickener in yogurt, ice cream and cottage cheese, may cause inflammation and digestive problems? Lots of companies even use it in their organic and reduced fat products. But just because it’s a natural ingredient made from seaweed doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you.
As Charlotte Vallaeys, director of Farm and Food Policy at the Cornucopia Institute, says, “What’s striking to me is that carrageenan has no nutritional value.” The organic watchdog group has already started a petition to get the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to ban the use of carrageenan in food products.
Dr. Joanne Tobacman, associate professor at the University of Illinois School of Medicine, who researches the ingredient’s harmful effects, explains, “Carrageenan predictably causes inflammation, which can lead to ulcerations and bleeding.” Her research is looking to demonstrate a link between carrageenan and ulcerative colitis, as well as diseases like diabetes.
Next time you are shopping for items such as soy milk, frozen dinners or soups, you may want to check the label to make sure that carrageenan is not listed as an ingredient.