Carrageenan -The Wondrous Seaweed

Over the years, different kinds of seaweed have been introduced into the food industry because of their unique nutrient values and the quality they possess. The seaweed that we consume in different ways are capable of growing in both warm water regions, like the Philippines, and also in regions of very cold water, like those around Northern Europe and Chile.

How are edible seaweeds classified?

Seaweedsdiffer in kinds and properties, and can be classified into three categories – alginate, agar, and carrageenan. Alginate can be found in brown seaweeds that grow in warmer regions of the sea. Carrageenan is found in red seaweeds. They are nothing but raw form of carbohydrates extracted from seaweeds.This form of seaweed extract is used for thickening a variety of food, including chocolate milk, soy milk, ice cream, jellies, yogurt, soups, salad dressings, and many others because of their water-holding properties.

Carrageenan -The Wondrous Seaweed

All you need to know about carrageenan

These are naturally occurring thickeners that can add soluble fiber to your diet. It has the ability to stabilize dairy products, make beverages thick and sticky, and form gels that are used in the baking industry. Carrageenan also acts as a better vegan alternative to gelatin and has been widely used in the food industry.

Carrageenan is capable of growing up to 4 inches in height, and can be usually found growing in warmer waters since they require mild sunlight. This seaweed is known to have originated in Ireland, and has been put to use for more than 600 years now.

The carrageenan that’s most commonly used in food industries today is harvested during the warmer months from the coasts of Ireland. During the colder seasons, they are harvested in Indonesia and Philippines where the water is warmer.

Is carrageenan safe to use?

You might have come across many health concerns surrounding carrageenan. However, many of the negative information about it turned out to be false. Generally, carrageenan comes in two different forms – food-grade carrageenan and degraded carrageenan.

Food grade carrageenan has been extensively used in the food industry for hundreds of years. It has also been reviewed by a lot of scientific researchers and approved as safe food additive. People have often mistakenly associated it with degraded carrageenan which is found to be inedible.

On the whole, carrageenan is completely safe to use and is a great food preservative. Next time you see this ingredient in your food, you can consume it happily without any doubts.