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What is Carrageenan and Why is it in My Organic Food?

Carrageenan is a common food additive extracted from a red seaweed. It is commonly called Irish Moss. It is used to thicken things like yogurt, ice cream and non-dairy milks such as coconut milk. Sounds innocent enough right? Not so fast. A leading researcher in the field, Joanne K. Tobacman, M.D. has linked carrageenan with cancer and stomach problems. She has authored 18 peer-review studies on the subject and strongly feels that carrageenan is harmful to human health. In the spring of 2012 she addressed the National Organic Standards Board and urged them to have carrageenan removed from all organic foods.

Dr. Tobacman stresses that when carrageenan is ingested it causes inflammation. Anybody out there think inflammation is a problem in our society? She cites the fact that in the past carrageen was used to induce inflammation in lab animals so that the effects of anti-inflammatory drugs could then be tested on those animals. NOT GOOD!

I did a bit of research on coconut milk/water brands and indeed found that the brands Coconut Dream, Silk Pure Coconut and Trader Joe’s continue to use carrageenan in their products. Thai Kitchen and Native Forrest however do not use carrageenan in their organic coconut milk.

I found that the Cornucopia Institute has a fantastic web page with a Carrageenan Shopping Guide. It very clearly lists organic foods that contain carrageenan and those that do not. Give your support to those companies that have removed carrageenan from their products and petition the companies whose products you currently utilize to get the carrageenam the heck out of the foods they are selling you as a health foods. Take a look at the list and you will be surprised to find many of the popular brands that are currently on the shelves at your favorite health food store. By all means, spread the word that this “seaweed” product added to your organic food is far from healthy for anyone. Feel free to re-post this or email this information.

Dr. Karen A. Sesso, D.C.

Read more about healthy eating and the nutrition counseling services  in Spokane offered at North Central Chiropractic

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