Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Understanding Alginate

(ammonium, calcium, potassium, and sodium salts of alginic acid) A food additive obtained from the giant kelp, a brown algae commercially harvested off the coast of California. Alginate is a major constituent of the cell wall and consists of polymers of acidic sugars Alginate is used by the food industry as a thickening and stabilizing agent because calcium alginate forms very stable gels in water. It prevents jelly in pastries from melting during baking and provides smooth textures to ICE CREAM, YOGURT and CHEESE, CANDY, whipped cream in pressurized cans, and canned frosting. Alginate also helps keep cocoa butter dispersed in chocolate milk. The red PIMENTO stuffed in green OLIVES contains the most alginate (6 percent) of any food source. Alginate is not used in acidic foods and beverage such as salad dressings and SOFT DRINKS, because it forms sediment under these conditions.
Alginate is on the GENERALLY RECOGNIZED AS SAFE (GRAS) list of the U.S. FDA. Short-term animal testing indicates the alginate is not absorbed by the body and is not toxic. Because alginate forms highly charged gels in water, it remains to be determined whether it can limit the absorption of minerals and other nutrients by the body.

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