What in the world is carrageenan??

After my recent post that featured Aldi’s Almondmilk, a thoughtful friend and customer pointed out to me that Friendly Farms Almondmilk contains carrageenan.  (CORRECTION added at the end of the post!)

AlmondMilk nutrition facts

What in the world is carrageenan??

Following my friend’s link, I learned that carrageenan is a completely natural extract from a particular type of red seaweed common in the Atlantic Ocean, near North America, Great Britain and Continental Europe.  It has no nutritional value and it is used primarily as a thickener and emulsifier.

The research of Dr. Joanne Tobacman, associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Illinois School of Medicine at Chicago, indicates that exposure to carrageenan causes inflammation and that when we consume processed foods containing it, we ingest enough to cause inflammation in our bodies. She explained that all forms of carrageenan are capable of causing inflammation and chronic inflammation is a root cause of many serious diseases including heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, and cancer.

I had never heard of this extract or this research, so I’ll be doing some reading–and then I’ll have to decide what to do about my almond milk!

Have YOU heard of carrageenan?  Can you recommend another source of calcium that doesn’t include this extract?  Do you think it matters?  I’d love to hear your thoughts about this.

February 24, 2015 CORRECTION:  Aldi’s Friendly Farms Almondmilk does NOT contain carrageenan!  My friend observed that it was in the same brand of coconut milk and assumed that it was in all.  Thankfully, it is NOT in the almond milk.  Whew!

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