What’s carageenan & why is it in my pumpkin?

What’s carageenan & why is it in my pumpkin?

If it looks like a pumpkin….

I’ll admit it, I LOVE pumpkin. No, I mean I really, really love pumpkin.

Pumpkin season is officially over and the pumpkin flavored everything, that’s been popping up on store shelves since late September, are about to disappear. In past seasons, I stockpile my favorites and hope that it will hold me over until the next year.  This year, I really took a good look at the pumpkin things I had been buying. I realized that I didn’t really need pumpkin flavored Cheerios®, coffee, potato chips, biscotti, you name it.  It’s the pumpkin flavor that I loved, not the pumpkin chewing gum, for example.

The marketing minds on Madison Avenue have had their way with me long enough.  I realized that actual pumpkin, canned or fresh, was readily available to me on a daily  basis. Wow, why hadn’t I realized this before?  The food manufacturers had my number and I just realized that I can block them and save a whole lot of cash in the process.

So, I went to the market and saw “all natural pumpkin” from Polar® on special.  The label touted that it was “rich in vitamin A and an excellent source of fiber”.  The label let me know that it is low in calories and fat and Kosher.  That was good enough for me, I purchased 6 cans and excitedly headed home thinking about all of the yummy pumpkin things I was going to make!

Insert screeching sound here!

When I opened the can of Polar® brand “all natural” pumpkin I noticed that it was very firm, tough to get out of the can and reminded me a lot of that canned cranberry sauce.  Sure enough, I used the can opener to also open the bottom of the can so I could shake the pumpkin from the can. It came out exactly like that cranberry sauce. Weird.

I was going to make a smoothie with it, but thought that maybe that particular can may be old.  I opened a second can, same thing, still weird.  That’s when I looked more closely at the label.  Carrageenan. Hmmm.

Here’s a little bit of info on carrageenan, it’s a substance extracted from red and purple seaweeds, consisting of a mixture of polysaccharides*. It is used as a thickening or emulsifying agent in food products and has no nutritional value.

The use of carrageenan in infant formula, organic or otherwise, is prohibited in the EU for precautionary reasons, but is permitted in other food items.

The United States has permitted the use of carrageenan in organic & non-organic foods, including organic infant formula until 2016. On November 18, 2016 the National Organic Standards Board voted to remove it from the list of approved substances for food items labeled “organic”.

Interesting.  Research links carrageenan to gastrointestinal inflammation, including higher rates of colon cancer, in laboratory animals.  These studies have shown, time and again, that carrageenan can cause gastrointestinal inflammation, ulcerations, increased risk of intestinal lesions and malignant tumors.

As with many things, you can find some articles stating that carrageenan is safe to consume.  As a lay person, not a medical expert in any way, I am choosing to read labels more carefully. From now on, I’m going to make sure to read the fine print on the back instead of relying on the bullet points on the front of the packaging

Even IF carrageenan were safe, take a look at the contents of these two cans of pumpkin.  Which one would rather consume?  It’s an easy choice for me. The Polar® brand lists the ingredients as pumpkin and carrageenan. The Simple Truth Organic® pumpkin lists the ingredient as pumpkin.

Which would you rather eat?
Which would you rather eat?

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to read labels more carefully from now on!  xo Bobbi

For more detailed information about carrageenan, check out these sources:



This one is my favorite! It lists the use of carrageenan as a substance for weight loss and as a laxative!

FDA OTC Medical Products & Tobacco Ingredient List – carrageenan is on page 10

*Polysaccharide:  a carbohydrate (e.g., starch, glycogen, or cellulose) whose molecules are made of a number of sugar molecules that are bonded together.




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Clinical Hypnotherapist specializing in weight loss, confidence, fears, confidence in dating & relationships, public speaking.


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