Carrageenan Background and Benefits
Carrageenans are a group of similar sulphated polysaccharides. They are used for a variety of purposes in the food industry, generally as thickening and stabilizing agents. The ability of carrageenans to bind to protein makes them especially useful in meat and dairy products. Carrageenans are also common in juices and infant formula.
The primary commercial sources of carrageenans are various species of edible red seaweeds. The seaweed is harvested, dried and baled. It is then ground, sifted and washed to remove sand and other impurities. The seaweed is soaked in an alkalai solution such as potassium hydroxide and heated to remove the carrageenan from the seaweed. The cellulose is then removed mechanically with filtration and centrifugation. The remaining solution is evaporated to remove the water, and the powdered carrageenan is then ground to final specifications.
Carrageen can also be made at home using a method similar to that used for commercial production. This technique has been known since 600 BC, although the commercial production of carrageenan didn’t begin until the 1930s.
Carrageenan is classified into three categories, depending on the degree of sulphation. The disaccharides in kappa-carrageenan have one sulphate, the disaccharides in iota-carrageenan have two sulphates, and the disaccharides in lambda-carrageenan have three sulphates. Carrageenan has antioxidant activity and other properties that make it useful in health supplements. Lambda-carrageenan is the most common form used in these supplements, since it doesn’t gel and is soluble in cold water.
Uses of Carrageenan
Carrageenan’s antioxidant activity is one of the most common reasons for using it as a health supplement. It also supports the digestive system, and is often used to make the capsules.
One study indicates that carrageenan oligosaccharides exhibit antioxidant activity. This characteristic helps supports cells from damage due to oxidative stress.
Gastric discomfort management
Carrageenan supplements may help manage stomach irritation and discomfort.
Digestive health support
Carrageenan may also help the digestive system by supporting regular bowel movements. The traditional method of preparing carrageenan for this purpose is to boil the seaweed in milk or water and drink the resulting fluid.
Signs You May Need Carrageenan
A high total cholesterol level is one of the most significant signs that you may benefit from chitin supplements. Poor kidney function is also an indication that chitin may help you. Common symptoms of kidney failure include physical weakness, poor appetite and insomnia. Intestinal disorders characterized by inflammation may also mean that chitin can benefit you. Additional reasons to consider chitin supplements include skin grafts and a need to manage your weight.
Synonyms and Similar Forms of Carrageenan
Chrondus crispus, Irish Moss