Almond milk is a great alternative to dairy because it has no allergens in it. Just about anyone can drink almond milk without the risk of sensitivities, reactions or mucus formation. It doesn’t use any animal products, making it a good alternative for vegans.
Almond milk is also high in protein and calcium, which means that you are getting all of the traditional benefits of cow’s milk without any of the associated health risks. Not only that but almond milk is delicious.
Unlike a lot of dairy alternatives, almond milk doesn’t require an acquired taste or time to get used to it. It is naturally rich and is delicious in everything from coffee to mashed potatoes.
But is the almond milk you’re drinking safe?
Although homemade nut milks are probably the healthiest alternatives to dairy milk, someof the mass manufactured tetra packs are actually really bad for you.Here’s why:
Manufactures have been using Carrageenan, a seemingly natural derivative from red seaweed, as a thickener and emulsifier in Almond milk. This stops the milk from separating and forming lumps while it stands on the shelf and gives it a thicker and creamier texture. Carrageenan has no nutritional value but is used for this purpose in a variety of organic products, including Almond Milk.
The problem is that although Carrageenan comes from seaweed and seems like a natural product, it has been proven to have detrimental effects on your health. Not every plant in the wild is edible; in fact many of them are poisonous, even if they are “natural”. In the same way not every ingredient claiming to be natural is safe for human consumption.
What’s more is that by the time carrageenan is ready to be used in production it has been so processed and altered that it doesn’t even resemble the original seaweed on a chemical level anymore. So even if the original plant wasn’t too bad for you, the carrageenan that you find being pumped into your “organic” products is far from organic, natural, or anything like the original thing.
There are two kinds of Carrageenan that are commonly used. The first is Food Grade Carrageenan.
Food Grade Carrageenan is created by using an alkali process when it is derived from raw red seaweed. This form of Carrageenan has been deemed safe for use in food and consumer products in spite of studies that have found it to be harmful. I will talk about its nasty side effects in a moment.
The second is laboratory grade Carrageenan. Lab grade carrageenan is created by using an acidic process to break it down. The broken down or degraded carrageenan is also known as poligeenan.
This Degraded Carrageenan is so well known for causing inflammation that it is actually used to create or induce inflammatory diseases in laboratory animals for the purposes of drug testing!
The only real difference between the Carrageenan in your Almond milk and the carrageenan being used to cause deadly diseases in unfortunate lab animals is that one has been broken down by an acidic process. And that is the first red light that should be flashing for anyone who is paying attention. Because your stomach is acidic.
We digest our food by breaking it down in the stomach with stomach acid. So when you consume food grade carrageenan in organic products it gets broken down in the exact same way as everything else you eat, with stomach acid. Which means that just a few hours after you drink your almond milk you will have degraded carrageenan in your system.
Studies by J. K. Tobacman, M.D., associate professor of clinical medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine, found that consuming even un-degraded (food grade) carrageenan causes inflammation in your digestive system because it triggers an immune response. Your body sees it as a pathogen like salmonella and tries to resist it.
Chronic inflammation is associated with more than a hundred human diseases. Just a sample of these includes rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, arteriosclerosis, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinsons.
Inflammation is also closely associated with a number of cancers.
As if that weren’t bad enough carrageenan has also been linked with causing gluten intolerance and effecting insulin levels. These two factors together can cause diabetes.
So it is very definitely not okay to be putting carrageenan into organic products that are supposed to be healthy! What makes it even more dangerous is that because carrageenan is used in the processing of Almond milk and is not a nutritive ingredient, they don’t even have to list it in the ingredients on the back of the box!
Very often all you will read on the back of a box of Almond milk are the words: “Organic processes”.
So how do you know which brands are safe?
We unfortunately don’t have a definitive list yet as it is not legally required for companies to declare carrageenan in their products, but we do know that these products definitely do use Carrageenan:
Almond Breeze (Blue Diamond), Almond Dream (original, unsweetened, vanilla, and unsweetened vanilla), Natur-a, Pacific Foods, President’s Choice, So Delicious, Central Market, Califia Farms, Earth’s own almond fresh, Engine 2 plant strong and Trader Joe’s(aseptic).
Now for the good news, there are companies who are dedicated to providing the public with healthy organic foods and beverages that don’t contain any harmful or controversial substances.
The following is a list of SAFE Almond milk products that do not contain carrageenan:
365 whole foods, Beber, Omilk NYC, Trader Joe’s (refrigerated – Ingredients vary in Trader Joe’s products), Wegman’s, Westsoyand Silk pure almond.
Now you know which Almond milk products to avoid and which are safe to buy. But almond milk is only one of the many supposedly healthy products that use carrageenan in their manufacturing processes. Here are some more products that commonly use carrageenan as a thickener and emulsifier:
Yoghurt, Soy Milk, Buttermilk, frozen dessert, ice cream, coconut milk, chocolate milk, sour cream, cottage cheese, Soy desserts, sliced turkey, processed sandwich meats, canned soups, microwave dinners and nutritional shakes and drinks.
All of these products are often made with carrageenan, so please read labels carefully (you always should anyway) to make sure that they don’t contain this dangerous inflammatory substance.
Just like carrageenan, many of the additives and processed ingredients in our foods harm our digestive system, causing inflammation.
If you are often suffering from digestive problems, go to the next page and watch the 3 tips to reduce these digestive-related issues –
About the Author:
Emma Deangela is the best selling author of The Alkaline Diet Program and 80/20 Fat Loss. She has helped over tens of thousands of men and women to lose weight and transform their health with sound nutrition advice.
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