Gum Arabic in diet
Wondering what the ingredient called “gum arabic” that’s found in foods like cake, candies, ice cream and soft drinks really is? Gum arabic is a type of plant-derived fiber. You can think of it as an edible “glue,” natural thickening agent and binder that helps hold ingredients together.
Gum arabic’s structure allows it to dissolve in cold or warm water (meaning it’s “water-soluble”), making it easy to use in a variety of ways. Because it is a natural, plant-derived product, it’s suitable for vegans/vegetarians (unlike other products with similar qualities, such as gelatin).
It is also naturally gluten-free, usually non-GMO and well-tolerated by most people when used in appropriate
Due to its rich fiber content, gum arabic may offer benefits including increasing probiotic bacteria in the gut, promoting satiety following meals, slowing down gastric emptying and regulating hormone secretion, which helps manage appetite and weight.
All of that said, gum arabic (or acacia gum) is typically found in processed, packaged foods — many of which are high in sugar, low in nutrients and filled with other potentially harmful ingredients. While using gum arabic supplements or baking or cooking with small amounts of gum arabic at home may not be harmful, it’s still best to limit how much packaged food that contains lots of additives you eat in general.
Today, there are many industrial and food-related uses for gum arabic. For example, gelatin, modified starch, gum arabic and pectin are the main types of gums used in many sugary/confectionery products. Arabic gum is used to help stabilize products including:
- A wide variety of desserts and baking ingredients
- Dairy products like ice cream
- Hard and soft candies
- Ink, paint, watercolors, and photography and printing materials
- Ceramics and clay
- Stamps and envelopes
- Shoe polish
- Herbal medicines, pills and lozenges
- Emulsions that are applied to the skin
Gum Arabic health Benefits:
Studies on both animals and humans suggest that benefits associated with gum arabic may include:
- Providing a source of prebiotics and soluble fiber.
- Feeding healthy bacteria (probiotics) in the gut.
- Helping enhance fullness and satiety.
- Helping with weight loss and potentially prevention of obesity.
- Treating IBS symptoms and constipation.
- Helping regulate cholesterol levels.
- Fighting insulin resistance, including in patients with type 2 diabetes.
- Reducing dental plaque on the gums and teeth, plus fighting gingivitis.
- Having anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, thanks to its tannins, flavonoids and resins.
- Helping reduce skin inflammation and redness.
Gum arabic is considered to be natural, edible and generally safe for human consumption. Research suggests that it’s non-toxic, especially when used in normal/moderate amounts, and tolerated by people with sensitivities to gluten. While gum is known to be indigestible to both humans and animals, it has been considered as a safe dietary fiber by the United States Food and Drug Administration.
Since it’s a concentrated source of dietary fiber, acacia gum can help make people feel full, helping curb cravings and overeating, and possibly helping with weight loss and reduced cholesterol levels. Results from one study showed that two different blends of gum arabic were able to decrease participants’ caloric intake significantly three hours after taking gum arabic. At doses of 41 grams, it yielded a significant reduction in energy intake of 110–210 kcal, while doses of 10 or 20 grams led to a reduction in energy intake around.
There has been some debate in the food industry as to just how many calories small amounts of gum arabic may contain, and as of now gum arabic is considered to have about one to two calories per gram. Because it is not digestible, it essentially has no caloric value when consumed in normal amounts. This means you don’t have to worry about gum arabic contributing sugar, carbs or “empty calories” to your diet. Because most recipes call for one to 10 grams per entire recipe, you can expect to only consume several calories from gum arabic per serving.
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