This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Food Science Matters, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #foodsciencematters
Food science matters.
Getting to the meat of it, as gluten-free and dairy-free consumers (as a majority of both my readers and clients are) we consistently see a lot of new or unfamiliar ingredients in prepackaged food and beverages. Due to the fact that they're new to us, a controversial conversation starts on whether it's something we should be consuming. While we have every right to question the foods we consume, we need to understand that learning the science and research behind each ingredient is key to making informed opinions.
After all, we are a group that meticulously has to watch what eat, a group of label-readers, recipe creators and food lovers who want the safest ingredients and options for ourselves and our families.
The questions I get asked most often involve labels, grocery shopping choices and food additives, both synthetic and natural. And when it comes down to it, most of my readers and clients aren't educated on items like carrageenan, different types of sugars or natural food colorings, they base their opinions on hearsay, so often times I get the following question...
"Where do you stand on carragennan?".
I'm here to share my thoughts on this naturally derived ingredient found in many of the dairy-free and gluten-free products found in your local market.
Many consumers get the wrong idea of products when they are unfamiliar with such and that is understandable. There are a lot of fear-mongering publishers who pick apart foods that aren't widely spoken about. Many nutritionists and scientists want to start breaking through those myths and share the real science, and truth, behind what these ingredients are comprised of.
The World Health Organization has placed carrageenan in the best possible category for any food additive, noting it “does not, in the opinion of the committee, represent a hazard to health.” This includes for the most vulnerable of humans, infants.
I myself am a consumer of carrageenan. I choose to omit artificial ingredients, colors, preservatives and unnatural fillers and instead opt for naturally derived ingredients, such as those from seaweed. Check out my "Creating Carrageenan" graphic below to see how simple and straight-forward the process truly is.
When it comes to ingredients in our food, there is usually a battle between countries or governing bodies that argue if a food is safe to consume. Carrageenan is one that has been labeled safe by all U.S. governing bodies as well as those in Europe, Japan, China and Brazil. It's not often that so many agree, and this holds great value to me and my colleagues.
Another aspect of obtaining ingredients such as this from natural sources, is that it can help with food sustainability in a way that does not bring harm to our environment - a very important topic when opting to live more natural and green. Food insecurity is an issue worldwide, and the ability to produce nutritious ingredients that boost food flavor and texture impact those in need. Creating these natural preservatives is a crucial need that is being muddled by misinformation.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer has found carrageenan to be non-carcinogenic. Noting also, that there have been no findings on it causing inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract.
Why do you stand behind carrageenan?
We have a lot of choices to make when it comes to food. When I started researching additives and ingredients in 2011, I made a choice to cut out many, many ingredients. You may contact me to speak on any questions you may have on label reading and ingredients, however, my extensive research on carrageenan and how I feel when I consume it, is what made me make the ultimate choice to keep it in my diet. I believe whole-heartedly in using plant resources over synthetic chemicals and I have maintained a healthy diet with great improvement in all my symptoms with this as a regularly consumed ingredient in my food.
We know its seaweed, but how is it sourced?
It is a soluble fiber derived from red seaweed, a natural food ingredient that has been used for hundreds of years (it is not "new" like read in some claims) in food preparation worldwide, replacing our need for synthetic and animal-based products. This fact makes it a great option for the vegan lifestyle, as well.
What foods do you find this ingredient in and what are the benefits?
Acting as a natural stabilizer, it offers benefits in texture, structure and physical appearance to foods such as dairy-free milks, ice creams, yogurt, dressings, jams and jellies and meat products. It adds creaminess and helps foods retain moisture and freshness.
How is it used elsewhere and what are it's benefits outside of food consumption?
It is also found in make-up, face wash, toothpaste and shampoos, allowing companies to cut the use of harmful and synthetic chemical stabilizers.
How can I learn about it's safety and read more research on this?
All of the research can be found through Food Science Matters. With many scientific studies and reports to back up the safety of this food additive. You may also follow Food Science Matters on Twitter and Facebook to interact and start a conversation.
The recipes you have seen throughout this post are personal recipes of mine that utilize delicious, healthy ingredients that are kept fresh and are enhanced by the use of carrageenan. The recipes I create with such yogurts and milks include:
Chocolate Frosted Cake Donuts (gluten-free/dairy-free/egg-free/soy-free)
Mango + Greens Smoothie (gluten-free/dairy-free/nut-free)
Glazed Spiced Apple Bundt Cake (gluten-free/dairy-free/soy-free)
Salted Caramel Vanilla Hot Cocoa (gluten-free/dairy-free/soy-free)
My chosen brands of coconut and almond milk, yogurts and meat sources often use the seaweed-derived product that ensures my food stays fresh and allows me the convenience to have these items on hand for my family and events without having to make them at home.
I'd love to keep the conversation going. If you have additional questions on the research behind this natural and safe food ingredient I'd love to help or direct you to those who create, test and study food everyday.
It's important to keep in mind when making food changes to thoroughly research to make the best informed choices for you and your family. And remember, Food Science Matters.
Pairing up with the Aetna Foundation for the Healthiest Cities Challenge inspired me to share with you some ways that me and my family infuse health and wellness into our everyday. Implement one of these each day, or each week, for a couple of months and they will become a healthy habit!
01. Start Your Mornings Slow -
Each morning I take my time to get ready for my day. Prayer, devotionals, cuddles with the puppies and a nice breakfast are key to centering me and setting me up for my best day working from my home office or heading out for events or meetings with clients.
02. Connect With Your Inner Child -
Playtime isn't just for elementary school and recess. Even as adults we need to take the time to connect to our inner child and play. For my full post on ways you can play as an adult, click here.
03. Drinking Water & Meal Planning -
Make sure that you’re getting the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables and water each day. Planning your meals ahead of time can help you incorporate healthier food options for your snacks and meals. (credit Aetna Foundation) For assistance in healthy, effortless meal planning, contact me.
04. Make Playtime Count -
When it comes to playing with the kids, opt out of video games and TV time and do something that will stimulate you all mentally or physically. Whether this is a craft project or getting outside for some old fashioned sports and sunshine, it will benefit you all more if activities such as these become part of your regular routine.
05. Physical Care -
Aside from your daily workouts, activities like getting regular massage, joining a sports team, or yes, even regular sex with your spouse can greatly boost your endorphins, pumping the feel good chemical through your body, thereby lowering stress levels naturally.
06. Get Involved -
Volunteering, meeting new people and staying connected to your friends and families is shown to improve health outcomes. With a strong support system, you can also help each other make healthier choices and organize ways to stay on course. Websites like Volunteer Match or Big Brothers, Big Sisters are great places to start to connect to new people and help your community in the process.
07. Micro-Breaks -
Life can get busy and overwhelming, but simple acts like taking a few deep breaths, standing and stretching or taking a walk can help calm the mind and relieve stress. Remember to take breaks even on busy days, not just the slow ones and if you work from home, having animals is great because it helps force you to take mini-breaks. (credit Aetna Foundation)
08. Daily Workouts -
Of course one of the most important aspects of daily wellness is exercise. Aetna shares some great tips to making working out fun: Break it up throughout the day! Watching TV? Have a competition with your family members during commercials: Who can get the most steps up and down the stairs? Or who can do the most push ups or sit ups? Another way to make it fun is to put on music and dance! Me and Mr. Charming also turn up our iPods when we clean the house so we can clean and dance around, burning extra calories and making chores fun. Taking an after dinner walk as a family is also a great way to get in your fitness while bonding.
09. Power Down -
Hearing this one at the Aetna Foundation event reminded me that this is a weakness for me and something I want to implement in our home.
Put your smart phone and yourself in sleep mode. Try to create a relaxing bedtime routine or develop a sleep schedule to help you get the best night’s rest possible. This includes unplugging from electronics an hour or more before bed time. Remember that you can turn off notifications when you go to sleep. It keeps you from waking up when your phone receives messages throughout the night. Also remember to shut down the Wi-Fi! It forces everyone to have quiet time and it can have a positive impact on the morning routine. (credit: Aetna Foundation)
10. Help Your City! -
Help your city become the healthiest it can be by joining the #HealthiestCitiesChallenge. For more information read my blog post on ways to increase health and wellness citywide in your area.