Arabic gum is most frequently used in the food industry as a stabilizer, especially in oil in water emulsions. It can also add stability to foam for beverages such as beer and soft drinks. It is edible and sometimes mentioned under its E number, E414. However, its uses do not end with the food industry. Acacia gum is also used in other domains, such as printing, paint production, glue, cosmetics and has even industrial applications. Some Arab populations also use the acacia gum in order to make a gelato-like dessert. It comes as no surprise that given its many uses and versatility in various domains, the popularity of Arabic gum has steadily increased. Whereas in the far past it was used only in Africa and Middle-east, now acacia gum is exported all over the world and the majority of the world’s countries take advantage of its many uses. Our company has long been involved in the harvest and supply of Arabic gum, offering only high quality products to its clients, while at the same time taking into account their needs and the domains in which they aim to use acacia gum.
Moreover, apart from its functional properties, Arabic gum also plays an important role when it comes to maintaining a healthy diet. It is a great source of soluble dietary fiber and thanks to its low viscosity it has been used to increase fiber levels in foods and beverages, without making a drastic change to the overall viscosity of the product.
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:
Studies on both animals and humans suggest that benefits associated with gum arabic may include:
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.
Rich in soluble fiber, acacia fiber is sourced from the sap of the Acacia Senegal tree, a plant native to parts of Africa, Pakistan, and India. Also known as gum arabic and acacia gum, acacia fiber is said to offer a number of health benefits.
When used in powder form, acacia can be stirred into water and consumed as a beverage. Some people prefer acacia to other forms of fiber because it isn’t gritty, doesn’t thicken, and has a fairly mild taste. The powder can also be mixed into smoothies and other beverages.
Due to its high soluble fiber content, acacia fiber is thought to help lower cholesterol levels, keep blood sugar in check, protect against diabetes, and aid in the treatment of digestive disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Soluble fiber (one of the main types of dietary fiber) dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance in the intestines.
In addition, acacia fiber is said to suppress appetite, reduce gut inflammation, alleviate constipation, relieve diarrhea, and support weight loss efforts (by helping you stay full for longer).
Acacia fiber is also said to be prebiotic (a non-digestible food ingredient in dietary fiber that can stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestines).
Although very few studies have tested the health effects of acacia fiber, there’s some evidence that it may offer certain benefits.
Free of substances such as gluten and artificial sweeteners that can be problematic for some people, acacia fiber may help relieve IBS symptoms. In a study published in 2012, researchers determined that yogurt enriched with acacia fiber and the probiotic Bifidobacterium lactis (B. lactis) could help ease IBS symptoms.
Preliminary research suggests that acacia fiber may help to reduce body mass index (BMI) and body fat percentage. For one study, healthy women took either gum arabic or a placebo daily. At the end of the six-week study period, those who had taken the gum arabic had a significant reduction in BMI and body fat percentage.
A study compared the effects of three types of dietary fiber (carboxymethylcellulose, psyllium, and gum arabic) in people with fecal incontinence. All participants took one of the fiber supplements or a placebo for 35 days. Only psyllium supplementation was found to significantly decrease the frequency of incontinence. Quality of life ratings didn’t differ between the groups.
When it comes to keeping your cholesterol in check, preliminary studies suggest that getting your fill of soluble fiber may have an impact. In one study, for instance, investigators analyzed the available research on acacia fiber and found that it appears to reduce cholesterol levels in rats.
Dietary fiber plays a role in regulating blood sugar. While there’s little clinical research on acacia fiber and diabetes, preliminary research suggests that the fiber may help protect against certain diabetes-related complications. In an animal-based study published in 2013, scientists performed tests on diabetic mice and determined that treatment with acacia fiber helped lower blood pressure.
Animal-based research indicates that acacia fiber may help guard against liver damage caused by acetaminophen. One study found that treating mice with acacia fiber prior to administering acetaminophen helped protect their livers from the drug’s toxic effects.
When consuming acacia fiber, or any type of fiber-rich supplement, be sure to gradually increase your intake and get enough fluids to protect against side effects commonly associated with high doses of fiber, such as gas, bloating, constipation, and cramps. Side effects reported in studies include early morning nausea, mild diarrhea, and abdominal bloating, particularly during the first week.