I recently wrote a blog on carrageenan, a food additive that is used as a thickening agent in foods. It’s a substance in many foods that includes yogurt, beer and non-dairy milks; everything from soy to hemp to almond to rice milk.

Why we would want to ingest this stuff is beyond me. I do hate giving you information like this with no alternative. The alternative at the time that I posted was “make your own”, which is a great option but if you’re busy, making almond or hemp milk or cashew milk is not a luxury that many of us have. So since then, I’ve been searching the shelves, up and down, scouring the Internet for non-dairy milks that didn’t have carrageenan.

 One is O Milk, which is sold in Dean & Deluca and also online. O Milk makes a beautiful almond milk and a cashew I believe others. Their milks are made with absolutely nothing in them except what needs to be in them: water, something kind of sweetener, almonds, or hemp, etc.

 If you can’t get your hands on that, then another good product is, Pacific All Natural Hemp Milk, I jumped up and down and made a bit of spectacle of myself to actually find a hemp milk that didn’t have this nasty carrageenan in it. Like I said, I’ve been looking for months! If you recall one of my recent blogs about food rotating, I mentioned that I was having way too much rice milk, until I found that beautiful hemp milk on the shelves.

I really do get that excited when I find something that I can eat. I’m sure a lot of you Celiacs understand, so I bought about four boxes full and went home and enjoyed! Hope you do, too!

Ever Onward,

Jennifer Esposito

~ Jennifer

This Post Has 29 Comments

  1. Ann

    Jennifer, thank you so much for created this website and updating it with all of the valuable information you find and thoroughly research. My mom has Celiac Disease (diagnosed about 16 years ago) and we are always looking to learn more. I looked up OMilk and unfortunately it looks like it is currently only available in NY. So in the meantime, I am going to try my hand at making my own almond milk. Thank you for the inspiration!

  2. Jann

    I purchased some of Whole Foods [carrageenan free] unsweetened, vanilla flavored almond milk. It’s NOT quite the same as the blended almond & coconut milk that I REALLY-REALLY like from Blue Diamond… but it really does taste great.

    Will need to try this hemp milk… because I agree… we should probably rotate our food choices.

  3. Lisa

    I have been looking on the cartons in my refrigerator and do not see anything with the ingredient carrageenan. Does this additive go under another name? We drink goat milk in our home and the only ingredients mentioned are goat milk and vitamin D3. I also do not see this additive mentioned on the yogurt cartons either. Very confused.

    1. Jann

      @Lisa: Carrageenan is an additive mostly used in the NON-dairy type milks… ie; almond, coconut etc. However, I also found it in some of the premade / gourmet type foods in Costco. I was looking for gluten and noticed the ‘carrageenan’… so it’s in more than just the non-dairy milks. I wouldn’t expect it to be in pure goat milk. It’s acts like an emulsifier / blending ingredients so I don’t think the goat’s milk actually needs it.

  4. Alexandra

    Hi Jennifer! First let me say, I just love you as an actress! You’re super talented! Hope to see more of you soon! Glad I found a blog of yours! I just wanted to see if you have ever heard of Kimberly Snyder! She’s a Los Angeles based nutritionist and has changed thee way I eat! Here is her hemp protein smoothie! I have it after I workout sometimes! Have a great day! :)
    http://www.kimberlysnyder.net/blog/2012/01/23/power-protein-smoothie-recipe/

  5. Brooke

    Ok, so I challenged myself at my local health foods store (Natural Grocer by Vitamin Cottage) to find a non-dairy milk without carrageenan . . . and I was shocked that it was in EVERYTHING, except Pacific Hemp milk. So I bought it! I just had a bowl of cereal with it and it tasted fine. (I think I was a bit nervous about the taste!!) I might not drink it straight, but it will be wonderful in smoothies and baking and many other things. I even tried a little in my coffee!

    The best part is how nutritious it is! I don’t think many people know that is contains ALL the essential amino acids, is a natural source of omega 3 &6, has 3 grams of protein, and lots of other goodies! Thank you for introducing me to this!

  6. BEVERLY MILLEY

    Jennifer thank you for writing all that you have been through I have autoimune celiac and suffered for a long time before anyone could tell me what was wrong. I had been all over and doctors told me it was all in my head yet i knew how sick i was. Now I am gluten free 1 year this month and still learning new things every day. I can relate to many things you have said in your story. I enjoy reading all about how much you have learned about this horrible diease. thank you

  7. Judy Miller

    I am glad I saw the FOX FILES with you on it. I will write my story sometime. Too much to write about it right now as I realize it has been a life long thing, but only discovered WHAT it was in 2000. However, I do not understand WHY you don’t like the carrageenan. Similar to AGAR AGAR, guar gum, xanthan gum, glucomannan, etc it is not bad for you. Perhaps it just freaks you out knowing where it comes from, but it is actually probably better for you than you are thinking. Any of the gums/fibers are actually good for you. They are also good for the intestine, because of them being mucilagenous, and slows down the food absorption so that it is easier for us to actually get something out of the food we eat.

    In MY case, with weight issues because of a NON working thyroid, these items help me to maintain the 80 pounds that i was finally able to lose. I have studied nutrition for nearly 30 years, ON MY OWN, and everyday is a learning process. I am looking forward to meeting others here – as we all go thru our daily trials of dealing with this disease.

    BE ENCOURAGED~~~~~IT DOES GET EASIER!!! When I found out, hardly anyone knew about it. I will have to share with you how I started cooking and eating etc…..there were certainly some disasters… but overall, there are many things on the market now, whereas THEN there was very little, and everyone thought I was nuts.

    1. Jennifer

      Please look into carrageenan closer. Dr Weil also just did a blog on it and he says it is very bad for people with GI problems. All gums can be problematic. I personally have a problem with guar gum as well. Whatever works for you to keep you healthy then thats what you should do. I’m just reporting what I have researched and has bothered me.

      As always please feel free to share. Everything and everyone here has a place to be heard!

      Be Well

      Jennifer

      1. Ju

        I will Jennifer…I guess because of the nature of this disease, no two ppl are alike…. for example I can eat all the SPELT and KAMUT I want… and it is wonderful!!! It is the ancient forms of wheat that have not been hybrided. Kamut pasta makes the most wonderful spaghetti, and SPelt breads and pie shells are better than the real wheat taste we all mos terribly… I can eat barley, oats, rye…etc… only concern is cross contamination. THAT is what I found to be the most bothersome thing.

        Have you tried the Flax milk yet? I am anxious to try that. I do not use ANY SOY at all, as that does bother me, but it is not good for unless you sue the FERMENTED soy. I try to get everyone to understand that unfermented soy is very bad for you. I use the Almond and coconut milks… try this… heated almond milk – (I use only XYLITOL to sweeten slightly), add cinnamon, clove and ginger…. what a wonderful drink before bed, or on a cold day.

        Are you able to consume glucomannan (shiritaki / Konjac)? I also use that a lot as well. I can’t wait to share some of the foods I have experimented with over the years with you and the others….. IT DOES GET EASIER! I am looking forward to trying your flours as well. I am not a baker, but a very good cook.

  8. Jann

    If you use google scholar there are all sorts of studies where they use ‘carrageenan’ to CAUSE inflammation so that they can test whether a drug will reduce inflammation.

    I monitor antibody levels very closely through blood testing. I also take LDN [low dose naltrexone] for my autoimmunity… it’s known to reduce antibodies.

    My antibody levels shot way up and the only thing I could attribute it to was the gallons of Blue Diamond’ Almond & Coconut Blended milk I had started drinking– LOVED it… but it has carrageenan. So I stopped drinking it… made my own coconut milk… drank Whole Foods almond milk… for 8wks. Retested my antibodies — lowest they’ve ever been since I’ve started monitoring. Obviously NOT a scientific test but it convinced me that carrageenan won’t be in my diet.

    1. Judy

      WOW… that is amazing. I am going to test myself for this. So far I have not noticed anything, but it could be that it was minimal and I thought it was something else.. thx for all the helpful info ladies!

  9. BarbaraJean

    I don’t have celiac that I know of but work out and am very interested in eating healthy. It sounds like you are saying I’d better lay off of my french vanilla coffee creamer that I enjoy so much. I heard that carrageenan wasn’t good for you but I have been ignoring that fact. Maybe I’d better listen! Thanks for the alternatives.

  10. Toni

    I am very concerned now about carrageenan as I have been giving my 2.5 year old organic coconut milk. I wrote to the company and demanded an explanation and here is their response:

    “Thank you for your email regarding our products. There seems to be a great deal of confusion about carrageenan, a natural polysaccharide (carbohydrate) extracted from red seaweed. The confusion arises because there are two types of carrageenan: undegraded (food-grade) and degraded (hydrolyzed with acid). Undegraded carrageenan has been used on a huge scale in food production worldwide since the 1930s, and its safety has been assured by the FDA Gras status. The Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) of the United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO) gave carrageenan the highest ADI (Accepted Daily Intake) status. We take our ingredients very seriously, and we strive to make our products as natural as possible so they can be safely incorporated as part of a healthy diet. We believe that food-grade carrageenan is neither carcinogenic nor toxic, and is safe for human consumption. If you have any other questions or comments please call or email me. Thanks and have a great day!”

    Jennifer – in the research you did on the subject, did you find the above to be true? Or are they lying to us? Would appreciate your thoughts. I haven’t given my daughter coconut milk now for several days…I don’t know who to trust!

    1. Jennifer

      EVery company out there says the exact same thing. NONE are going to admit to being careless with their ingredients. All I can say is this, If Something works for you then by all means continue. It has been my experience and from what I’ve discovered that anyone with a digestive illness should steer clear of carregeenan. Dr Weil also just wrote a blog stating the same thing. Again, if something works for you, continue but know that you can make your own nondairy milks and they don’t need anything but the nut,seed and water. Makes you question why they put those ingredients in there in the first place????? Eat Clean

      Be well

      jennifer

    2. JudyL

      I agree with Jennifer. IF you find there are problems with an item – then for some reason, it does not agree with you, or the child you are giving it to may have a reaction. I have been paying very close attention to this carrageenan issue since Jennifer made me aware of it. I have absolutely no problem with it – so it seems. I have a very severe WHEAT intolerance. I can have all the barley, oats and rye I want. I eat SPELT and KAMUT (ancient forms of wheat) and never have a reaction. I cannot eat soy either… not that I would want to . The ONLY type of soy that ANYONE should eat is the FERMENTED SOY. Unfermented soy is BAD for everyone.

      ANyway, I am going to continue to be aware of the carrageenan issue- but some systems might just be really sensitive to it. I have a friend who is a Bio-Identical endocrinologist in Santa Barbara…. and he is so particular about all foods etc, I will ask him about this, and get back as soon as I can with his opinion. He PROBABLY will say to stay away from it too.

      On another subject, I don’t know if anyone has tried the UDI’s products, but they are very good. AND, IF you can eat Spelt, then BERLIN BAKERY has a wonderful spelt bread that tastes EXACTLY like real bread. It is pricey, so I just treat myself to a real sandwich or toast only once in a great while. But it IS good! Also, you may want to look into CLEMMY’ s Ice Cream products. Incredible.

      1. Emmy

        Judy – If you happen to see this, could you please let me know the name of your endocrinologist friend? I live in Santa Barbara and am looking for an endocrinologist who is open to a more holistic approach instead of just automatically prescribing medication I’ll have to take for the rest of my life… thank you!

        Emmy

  11. Allison

    So far I do not see a lot of negative information regarding Locust Bean Gum and Gellan gum. I am still researching.
    Silk Almond milk does not have carrageenan listed.

    Silk Pure Almond® Original Almondmilk: All Natural Almondmilk (filtered water, almonds), All Natural Evaporated Cane Juice, Calcium Carbonate, Sea Salt, Locust Bean Gum, Sunflower Lecithin, Gellan Gum, d-alpha-Tocopherol (natural vitamin E), Zinc Gluconate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Riboflavin (B2), Vitamin B12, Vitamin D2.

  12. Diana

    I use hemp milk a lot for baking, but not for drinking. Mostly I use goat and sheep products (milk & cheeses). As far as thickeners go, there are quite a few of them, including agar agar & kudzu.

  13. Kathryn Leddy

    My celiac daughter is having serious GI issues. She can’t eat anything without many trips to the bathroom. She found that she is also allergic to corn, rice, soy, dairy, eggs! Was so happy to hear about milk substitutes without carrageenan. Thank you. What about a butter substitute? Also I would like to share that Breads from Anna has many awesome gf/allergy free bread, brownie and muffin mixes etc.
    What about a gf/allergy free probiotic to help heal her bowel? Please pray for her—-4 of her 5 children are also diagnosed celiacs. Her grocery bill is unreal. Thanks and God Bless all of you! Katie

  14. Katherine Gillard

    Some people apply lecithin to the skin as a moisturizer. You will often see lecithin as a food additive. It is used to keep certain ingredients from separating out. You may also see lecithin as an ingredient in some eye medicines. It is used to help keep the medicine in contact with the eye’s cornea.,*:*

    See you real soon
    <http://healthwellnesslab.comjk

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