A client asked me about carrageenan at our last meeting. I had researched this about ten years ago and it had seemed pretty benign. All I could find about it was that it was a red seaweed that was used as a thickener. Seaweed... I am a big fan of seaweed eat it all the time... but not in this form. Apparently this red seaweed is extremely processed and is in every alternative milk, mock meat products and other processed foods.
So yes it is derived from a benign source, but because it is so highly processed it can create issues like inflammation, leaky gut, bowel irritation like Irritable Bowel Syndrome and possibly contribute to cancer.
Most of the research is done using the degraded form of carrageenan which is not used in food and causes the above reactions. The food grade is the un-graded form and is considered safe by the FDA. But, and it's a big but...research shows that the ungraded form can be transformed during the digestive process into the degraded form. An some research shows that both cause inflammation.
I have decided to start avoiding carrageenan the best I can and have decided to start making my own alternative milks with just a few ingredients: nuts or seeds, water, salt, maple syrup and vanilla powder, blended in a high powered blender and strained. The possibilities are endless as to the flavors you can make and the taste is even better than store bought milks.
I know that many cannot or will not make their own milk for various reasons, so I have found a few alternative milks that do not have carrageenan in them. So far there are only three: Whole Foods 365 brand of Almond Milk, Pacific Oat Milk and Tree of Life Almond Milk. I will have these on hand for those times when I don't have time to whip up a batch of milk! As for other products, check the labels and if it contains carrageenan, you may consider switching to a brand that does not contain it.
Please check out my facebook page for other links to information on carrageenan.