The main difference between carrageenan and xanthan gum is that carrageenan is a food additive extracted from red seaweed, whereas xanthan gum is a slime that forms as a result of the fermentation of corn sugar with bacteria.
Carrageenan and xanthan gum are two food additives important in the food industry. They are important as food gums used as stabilizing, suspending, thickening, gelling, and emulsifying agents and to give products their desired textural properties.
Key Areas Covered
1. What is Carrageenan
– Definition, Features, Function
2. What is Xanthan Gum
– Definition, Features, Function
3. Similarities Carrageenan and Xanthan Gum
– Outline of Common Features
4. Difference Between Carrageenan and Xanthan Gum
– Comparison of Key Differences
Carrageenan, Xanthan Gum
What is Carrageenan
Carrageenan is a polysaccharide extracted from red seaweed known as Irish moss. It has been used as a food additive for many years. In fact, carrageenan is an alternative to gelatin, so it is a vegetarian or vegan additive. Generally, carrageenan gives thickness, emulsifies, and preserves food. Apart from Irish moss, carrageenan is present in nut milk, yogurt, and meat products. However, carrageen can trigger inflammation and gastrointestinal ulceration damaging the digestive system.
Furthermore, carrageenan promotes and causes bloating, glucose intolerance, colon cancer, irritable bowel syndrome, and food allergies. In addition to that, increased inflammation can cause arthritis, inflammatory bowel syndrome, tendonitis, and gallbladder inflammation. The common sources of carrageenan include chocolate milk, ice cream, cream, cottage cheese, almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, rice milk, soy milk, vegan cheese, etc.
What is Xanthan Gum
Xanthan gum is a slimy polysaccharide, a result of the fermentation of corn sugar with bacteria. Therefore, people with corn allergies should consider the consumption of xanthan gum. Furthermore, xanthan gum is an ingredient in salad dressing, sauces, and ice cream. Hence, xanthan gum is a common food additive, and it is an effective emulsifier, thickening agent, and stabilizer, preventing ingredients from separating. Moreover, it suspends solid particles such as spices.
Xanthan gum creates the desired texture of ice cream. Xanthan gum also thickens commercial egg substitutes made from egg whites. In addition to that, it replaces the fat and emulsifiers in yolks. Additionally, xanthan gum thickens liquids for those with swallowing disorders without changing the color or flavor of foods or beverages at typical use levels. Generally, xanthan gum helps give a dough or batter the stickiness in gluten-free baking.
Similarities Between Carrageenan and Xanthan Gum
- Carrageenan and xanthan gum are two food gums important for stabilizing, thickening, and gelling food.
- They are also food additives.
- Both are polysaccharides.
- Both are vegetarian food additives.
Difference Between Carrageenan and Xanthan Gum
Carrageenan refers to a substance extracted from red and purple seaweeds, consisting of a mixture of polysaccharides used as a thickening or emulsifying agent in food products, while xanthan gum refers to a substance produced by bacterial fermentation or synthetically and used in foods as a gelling agent and thickener; it is a polysaccharide composed of glucose, mannose, and glucuronic acid.
Carrageenan is a polysaccharide extracted from red and purple seaweeds, while xanthan gum is a result of bacterial fermentation of polysaccharides such as glucose, mannose, and glucuronic acid.
While carrageenan is important as an alternative to gelatin, xanthan gum is important as salad dressing and ice cream.
In brief, carrageenan and xanthan gum are two types of food additives. They are important in stabilizing, thickening, and gelling agents. Carrageenan is a polysaccharide extracted from red seaweeds and is important as an alternative to gelatin, while xanthan gum is a product of fermentation of reducing sugars with bacteria. Xanthan gum is also a common ingredient in salad dressings and ice cream. Therefore, the main difference between carrageenan and xanthan gum is their origin and uses.
- Demirci ZO, Yılmaz I, Demirci AŞ. Effects of xanthan, guar, carrageenan and locust bean gum addition on physical, chemical and sensory properties of meatballs. J Food Sci Technol. 2014 May;51(5):936-42. doi: 10.1007/s13197-011-0588-5. Epub 2011 Nov 18. PMID: 24803701; PMCID: PMC4008741.
- “Eucheuma denticulatum in an off-bottom cultivation, Bweleo, Zanzibar” By StinaTano – Own work (CC BY- SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia
- “Xanthan” By NEUROtiker – Own Work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia