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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Dairy Alternatives and Low-Fat Dairy Products - What to Watch Out For

I recently found out some disturbing news about a "natural" ingredient that is added to a lot of low-fat dairy products and dairy alternatives - Carrageenan. According to this article, carrageenan is a seaweed-derived ingredient used to create a better texture in low-fat dairy products and dairy alternatives like soymilk. It is also often found in things like chocolate milk, sour cream, creamers, yogurt, ice cream and juices. Carrageenan helps keep different ingredients in suspension so they don't separate, eliminating the need to shake the product before consuming.

My sister is a nurse and when she heard about carrageenan and how harmful it was she shared the information with me and my mom since she knows we both use some dairy alternative products. She informed us that carrageenan creates inflammation in the body and can lead to a lot of medical issues including inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis and arteriosclerosis. Inflammation also fuels other life-threatening diseases, including cancer.

I don't know about you, but I would rather take the time to shake or stir my product up than to have this harmful ingredient added in. It goes to show that checking labels is super important. If you don't know what something is or if your ingredient list is a mile long, it might be best to find something else to eat or drink. 

I typically use almond milk in my protein shakes, cereal, oatmeal, etc. so I was very worried that the Trader Joe's brand I was using had this ingredient in it. Luckily, this brand is one of the safe ones. Make sure to check your labels! Even if you're consuming a regular dairy product, this ingredient could be still used to prevent separation. Make sure to double check. 

Another major thing to watch out for in low-fat and dairy alternative products is the amount of added sugar. I'm always on the lookout for how much sugar is added into my food and drinks but it's sometimes easy to forget, especially when a food or drink is being advertised as healthy. Make sure to do your research and keep yourself educated on what you're putting into your body. 

Do you use any dairy alternative or low-fat dairy products? Have you checked your labels lately?

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