What You Should Know
Carrageenan is an extract from the red seaweed plant. It contains polysaccharides. The substance has a gelatin quality making it perfect for breading and coating foods. Vegans and vegetarians commonly use carrageenan in place of gelatin. The extract is processed as semirefined, refined and mixed processing for various industries. The ingredient is used for various purposes in alternative and traditional medicine, including personal lubrication, protection from herpes simplex and treatment of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). It may also be an effective treatment for the virus that causes the common cold. There are no links between carrageenan and weight loss or fat loss, though the ingredient is commonly used in diet sodas to alter the feel of the soda in your mouth.
List of Ingredients
Red Seaweed Extract.
Unlike extras from brown seaweed, red seaweed extract or carrageenan is not associated with weight loss or fat loss. The ingredient is typically used in baking, cooking and commercial preparation of food products. Typical alternative medicine uses for carrageenan include treating cough and bronchitis. The French add acid to the red seaweed extract creating a natural laxative used to treat constipation.
Laxatives are quite popular in the weight loss industry for several reasons. They push out excess water and waste more quickly leading to a temporary drop in body weight. Laxatives also help fight constipation associated with certain types of dieting, particularly low carbohydrate dieting. In large amounts, natural carrageenan may have laxative effects without acid treatment.
Carrageenan decreases the amount of stomach acid which could slow down digestion. In this way, the ingredient could be promoted as a natural appetite suppressant as the stomach stays fuller and hunger is kept at bay between meals while digestion completes.
While natural carrageenan is considered safe, French carrageenan may cause certain forms of cancer. Carrageenan interacts with some prescription medications, including those used to treat high blood pressure and blood clotting. Any drug taken by mouth may be affected by carrageenan as the thick gel decreases the amount of the drug the body can absorb.
Carrageenan is typically sold as a personal lubricant costing about $10 per tube. Not all carrageenan is food grade, so dieters need to ensure the product is packaged for consumption before taking as a supplement or using it as a personal lubricant.
- May reduce hunger.
- Considered safe for most dieters.
- May help fight constipation.
- In large quantities, may have laxative effects.
- Interacts with medications taken by mouth.
- Not all carrageenan is food grade.
- May be difficult to find in supplement form.
Carrageenan is a food additive commonly used in diet sodas and vegan (vegetarian) coatings. The red seaweed extract may slow the digestive process leading to reduced hunger. Finding a supplemental form of carrageenan may be difficult, so dieters may want to find a product that contains the ingredient. If a dieter is taking an oral medication, for any reason, carrageenan may reduce the effectiveness of the treatment. This could lead to life-threatening side effects or illness.