Is Seaweed Making You Sick?

Carrageenan, a seaweed-based ingredient, is linked to gastrointestinal inflammation and disease.

| August 9, 2012

  • seaweed
    Carrageenan, an extract from red seaweeds and used as a thickening agent in some organic products, has been shown to cause gastrointestinal difficulties in some people.
    PHOTO: FOTOLIA/PICTURE PARTNERS

  • seaweed

This article was posted with permission from the Cornucopia Institute.

Carrageenan is a highly processed seaweed-based ingredient that acts as a stabilizer and thickening agent in foods. Dozens of scientific studies have linked food-grade carrageenan to gastrointestinal inflammation and disease, including several studies showing higher rates of colon tumors in rats given carrageenan in their diet.

The food industry claims that only a certain form of carrageenan is harmful (“degraded” carrageenan has been used in thousands of studies to intentionally and predictably cause gastrointestinal disease in laboratory animals), but we can no longer ignore studies showing food-grade carrageenan also causes serious gastrointestinal health impacts.

Carrageenan is commonly found in dairy products (cream, chocolate milk, ice cream), dairy alternatives (soy milk, soy ice cream, coconut milk), and deli meat. But who would have thought it’s also found in beer, energy bars and even some chocolate bars? Check out our recently updated shopping guide to make sure you are not consuming foods with carrageenan.



If you have eliminated carrageenan from your diet and noticed an improvement in your digestive health, please fill out our questionnaire, developed in collaboration with medical researchers, to help us better understand the degree and severity of carrageenan-related symptoms in the general public. 






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