Sooo… I’ve been reading up on one of the key ingredients in my beloved smoothies; almond milk – and it turns out that the shop bought ones may not be all that good for you… booo….
Basically, many almond milks include the ingredient carrageenan in them; which in and of itself, looks innocent enough, as it’s derived from seaweed. However, if we delve a little deeper, there is much evidence that suggests it’s not all that groovy. Here’s an extract from just one of many articles I found:
Dr. Tobacman said that her research has shown that exposure to carrageenan causes inflammation and that when we consume processed foods containing it, we ingest enough to cause inflammation in our bodies. She explained that all forms of carrageenan are capable of causing inflammation. This is bad news.
And she reported further that when laboratory mice are exposed to low concentrations of carrageenan for 18 days, they develop “profound” glucose intolerance and impaired insulin action, both of which can lead to diabetes.
Erm, so, that’s clearly not cool…
There is some debate over whether degraded and non-degraded carrageenan have the same effects; and Blue Diamond Unsweetned Almond Milk (the one I used) do state that they use “food grade” carrageenan; their response to concerns is here:
We understand that there is an enormous amount of negativity on the Internet pertaining to an ingredient called ‘carrageenan’. We would like to take this opportunity to provide you with some information that may help to clear up any misconceptions about the use of this ingredient as a food additive and about the Blue Diamond brand.
As you may know, carrageenan is a food additive naturally extracted from seaweed and is approved for use in foods by the US FDA (Food & Drug Administration) as an emulsifier, thickener or stabilizer.
In June 2012, the FDA confirmed the approval and safety of the use of carrageenan as a food ingredient for human consumption. The FDA has previously considered the inflammatory and ulcerogenic effects of certain forms of carrageenan in animals, and has found that studies demonstrating such effects do not support a reversal of regulatory and ulcerative effects in humans.
The FDA also concluded that available research does not demonstrate that ‘food grade’ carrageenan induces tumor formation. Finally, while some studies and organizations have concluded that the ‘degraded’ form of carrageenan can be carcinogenic, Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almondmilks and Coconutmilk Blends do not contain this form of carrageenan. Blue Diamond uses only the highest quality of ‘food grade’ carrageenan in its Almond Breeze product line.
Blue Diamond’s use of carrageenan in its Almond Breeze Almondmilks and Coconutmilk blends as a stabilizer complies with the FDA’s proscribed use and labeling requirements. Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almondmilk and Coconutmilk blends clearly identify carrageenan as one of the ingredients on the product label for all consumer to read and evaluate before purchasing or ingesting.
In summary, there are no inherent safety issues with this product line and we encourage consumer to read and evaluate product labels on any Blue Diamond product to determine it appropriateness for their specific dietary and health considerations and needs.
… so, obvs it’s up to you to do your own research and decide whether you want to continue consuming carrageenan containing products or not; but as I’m a little bit keen to avoid anything that’s possibly inflammatory, and / or contributes to impairments to insulin, I’m gonna steer clear…
But how to replace my beloved smoothies? Well, I could make my own almond milk – it’s actually really easy and not at all time consuming, as I previously thought it might be; however it is pretty costly and works out around £1.50 a time for the amount I like to use in my smoothies… soooo, I experimented with almond butter; which is *just* almonds – and it was yummy!
- 1 tablespoon of chia seeds, soaked in water for at least 20mins, or overnight;
- 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds;
- 1, 2.5g scoop of konjac fibre (I use Patrick Holford’s);
- 1 teaspoon of mixed spice (I use Waitrose organic which has cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg and caraway – and is delish!);
- 1 teaspoon of Meridian crunchy almond butter (nb. the almonds in this are roasted – so if you wanted it to be 100% raw you’d have to find a raw almond butter, or make your own almond milk);
- 1 teaspoon of cacao powder;
- 300mls water
Whizz in a high speed blender – and enjoy! It’s the perfect blend of protein, fibre, essential fats and a lil juj from the cacao to keep me going till lunch! Plus the lack of carbs plus spices make it a great blood sugar balancer too. You could play around with the spices, and replace the cacao with carob, or try cacao nibs instead… and I imagine a dash of honey or coconut nectar would make it lovely too…
Happy breakfasting, sweet peeps! xo