It is a type of fiber derived from plants.
You can think of it as an edible “paste,” a natural thickening agent and binder that helps hold the ingredients together.
I wondered what the “gum arabic” ingredient is found in foods like cakes, candy, ice cream, and soda?
The structure of gum arabic allows it to dissolve in cold or warm water (meaning it is “water-soluble”), making it easy to use in various ways.
Being a natural product derived from plants, it is suitable for vegans/vegetarians (unlike other products with similar qualities, such as gelatin).
It is also naturally gluten-free, generally non-GMO, and well tolerated by most people when used inappropriate/small amounts.
Due to its rich fiber content, gum arabic may offer benefits, such as increasing probiotic bacteria in the gut, promoting satiety after meals, slowing gastric emptying, and regulating hormone secretion, helping to control appetite. And weight.
Gum arabic (or acacia gum) is typically found in processed packaged foods, many of which are high in sugar, low in nutrients, and packed 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 is best to limit the amount of packaged foods that contain many additives that you generally eat.
What is gum arabic?
Gum arabic, also sometimes called acacia gum or acacia powder is a fibrous product made from the hardened natural sap of two types of wild acacia.
Gum arabic is known by various names throughout the world, including gum acacia, gum arabic, acacia gum, Senegal gum, Indian gum, and others.
Acacia Senegal (L.), a tree in the Leguminosae (Fabaceae) plant family, is most often used to make gum arabic products. The Vachellia (Acacia) is another species that produces dried gum from its trunk and branches.
These trees grow in abundance in Sudan, where around 50 percent of the world’s gum arabic is produced. Still, they are also found in other parts of Africa, such as Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal.
What’s interesting about acacia trees is that they produce the most gum arabic when they experience “harsh conditions,” such as poor soil, drought, or intense heat. This damages the trees to some extent but causes an increase in gum arabic production.
What type of organic molecule is gum arabic?
It is made from a mixture of glycoproteins, a class of proteins with carbohydrate groups attached to the polypeptide chain, and polysaccharides, a carbohydrate whose molecules consist of several attached sugar molecules.
It also includes oligosaccharides, another type of carbohydrate. Additionally, gums collected from acacia trees are a source of natural sugar compounds called arabinose and ribose, some of the first concentrated plant / tree-derived sugars.
The exact chemical composition of gum arabic varies from product to product, depending on its origin and the climatic and soil conditions in which it was grown.
Today, there are many industrial and related uses for gum arabic and food. For example, gelatin, modified starch, acacia, and pectin are the central gums used in many sugar/confectionery products.
Gum arabic 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.
- Pottery and clay.
- Stamps and envelopes.
- Shoe polish.
- Cosmetic products.
- Medicinal herbs.
- Creams that are applied to the skin.
Is gum arabic helpful or harmful?
Benefits of gum arabic
Animal and human studies suggest that the benefits associated with gum arabic may include:
- Provide a source of prebiotics and soluble fiber.
- Feeds healthy bacteria (probiotics) in the gut.
- Helps improve fullness and satiety.
- Helps with weight loss and potential obesity prevention.
- Treating IBS symptoms and constipation.
- Helps regulate cholesterol levels.
- Combat insulin resistance, even in patients with type 2 diabetes.
- Reduce dental plaque on the gums and teeth and fight gingivitis.
- Thanks to its tannins, flavonoids, and resins, it has anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects.
- Helps reduce inflammation and redness of the skin.
Gum arabic is considered natural, edible, and generally safe for human consumption. Research suggests that it is non-toxic, mainly when used daily / in moderate amounts, and is tolerated by gluten-sensitive people.
While gum arabic is indigestible to both humans and animals, it has been considered a safe dietary fiber by the United States Food and Drug Administration since the 1970s.
Using gum arabic will help your baked goods, such as cakes, rise, but it will also add natural soluble fiber to recipes.
Gum arabic is a natural prebiotic and source of soluble dietary fiber (a complex polysaccharide), which means that humans cannot digest its carbohydrates.
This has benefits for gut health, digestion, and even cardiovascular health due to how soluble fiber helps bind cholesterol.
Once you eat acacia gum, it is fermented in the colon with the help of bacteria/microorganisms. This essentially helps “feed” good probiotic bacteria in the gut with many vital roles in the body.
One study found that supplementation for four weeks with 10 grams a day of gum arabic led to significant increases in Bifidobacteria, Lactobacteria, and Bacteroides bacteria, indicating a prebiotic effect.
Because it is a concentrated source of dietary fiber, acacia gum can help people feel full, helping curb cravings and overeating, and possibly aid in weight loss and lower cholesterol levels.
The results of one study showed that two different mixtures of gum arabic were able to decrease the caloric intake of the participants significantly three hours after taking gum arabic.
At 40 grams, it significantly reduced energy intake of 100-200 kcal, while doses of 10 or 20 grams led to a decrease in energy intake of around 100 kcal.
A 2012 study published in the Nutrition Journal was conducted to determine the effects of regular gum arabic (GA) intake on body mass index and body fat percentage among healthy adult women.
This double-arm, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial included 120 healthy women who were divided into two groups: a group of 60 volunteers who received GA (30 g / day) for six weeks and a placebo group of 60 volunteers who received pectin (1 g / day) for the same period.
The study results suggest that “GA intake causes a significant reduction in BMI and percentage of body fat among healthy adult women” and that this effect could potentially be used in the treatment of obesity.
There has been some debate in the food industry about how many calories small amounts of gum arabic can contain, and gum arabic is now considered to have approximately one to two calories per gram.
Because it is indigestible, it essentially has no caloric value when consumed in average amounts. This means you don’t have to worry about gum arabic adding sugar, carbohydrates, or “empty calories” to your diet.
Since most recipes call for one to 10 grams per full recipe, you can expect to consume only several calories from gum arabic per serving.
Why can gum arabic be harmful?
Gum arabic can cause digestive problems in some people, mainly when used in large amounts.
Potential side effects of gum arabic can include:
- Flatulence / gas.
- Unfavorable slimy sensation in the mouth.
- Nausea early in the morning.
- Mild diarrhea and other types of indigestion.
To limit side effects, keep your intake well below the maximum daily dose of about 30 grams, which is easy to do as most recipes call for one to 10 grams.
According to a 2017 report published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), regarding gum arabic, it was said that:
It is safe; No adverse effects were reported in the subchronic and carcinogenicity studies at the highest dose tested, and there is no concern regarding genotoxicity.
While some people experience flatulence when eating gum arabic, the EFSA panel considers it undesirable but not an adverse effect.
The EFSA panel concluded that:
There is no need for a numerically accepted daily intake (ADI) for gum arabic (E 414), and there is no safety concern for the general population in the refined exposure assessment of gum arabic (E 414) as a food additive.
If you have severe digestive problems and are on the GAPS diet or the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD), then know that most gums (such as acacia, gum, and others) are “off-limits” because they can cause inflammation in the body.
Otherwise, as long as you are not sensitive to these gums and don’t notice any attention-grabbing symptoms when eating them, they shouldn’t cause much concern.
Uses of gum arabic
The most common use of gum arabic powder is in the production of soft drinks and cooking and baking, specifically to stabilize the texture of products, increase the viscosity of liquids and help baked goods (such as cakes) to rise.
Other uses include:
- Add shine / or a shiny appearance to certain foods.
- Cover the food.
- Inhibit the crystallization of sugar.
- When making soda / soft drinks, acacia gum is used to make syrups and bond sweeteners with other flavors.
Why do types of food use stabilizing ingredients like gum arabic?
You can find gum arabic (Acadia) most commonly in:
- Desserts or sweets.
- Fruit syrups.
- Candied sugar.
- Chewing gum.
- Chocolate candies like M & M.
- Decorative edible baking ingredients such as glitter or sprinkles.
- Soft, chewy sweets.
As you can see, many foods that contain gum arabic are not the healthiest options. Packaged baked goods, candy, and others are often loaded with added sugar, refined oils, and artificial colors and ingredients.
So while acacia gum itself may not be problematic in small amounts, you should still limit the number of sweets and processed foods you eat that contain it.
Gum arabic in Ayurveda and traditional medicine
Gum arabic has many uses in traditional systems of medicine, including:
- Treatment of ailments such as constipation and dysentery.
- Diarrhea .
- Prolonged bleeding
In Ayurveda, acacia gum is refreshing, spicy, dry, difficult to digest, and helpful in balancing Kapha dosha.
Acacia gum is considered a natural antiseptic and expectorant.
The root and leaves of the plant are crushed and sometimes applied to the skin to treat inflammation, infection, wounds, parasites, and other diseases.
Small amounts of the root can also be sucked on or applied to the mouth to help treat bleeding, gum disease, and the pain of loose teeth.
Other traditional uses for acacia include:
- Gargling for a sore throat.
- Washing the skin with it for eczema and wounds.
- Using it on the eyes for conjunctivitis.
- Add it to enemas for hemorrhoids.
Gum Arabic vs. Jelly
Gelatin is different from most other gelling agents because it is not a complex sugar but rather an animal-derived protein made from animal collagen.
Gelatin generally comes from various parts of animals (including bones and connective tissue), especially cattle and pigs.
As the name implies, gelatin is excellent for forming gel-like textures and versatile in baking, cooking, and making sweets.
You will find gelatin in a wide variety of candies, especially jellies, jams, marshmallows, wine gums, gummies, chewy fruits, and powder form that can be added to smoothies or stews.
Hydrolyzed gelatin powder can be mixed into any liquid, including soups, broths, etc.
Gelatin is often combined with other “hydrocolloids” such as pectin, agar, starches, and acacia.
Together these form ideal textures for many gummy or sweet products. You will find a combination of gelatin and acacia in many fruit lozenges and sucking candies.
Most would agree that gelatin has more health benefits than acacia.
Gelatin is found in animal parts that provide essential amino acids and proteins’ “building blocks.”
Its unique amino acid profile is the reason for many of its benefits, such as helping to form cartilage or solid connective tissue, preventing intestinal damage, improving the lining of the digestive tract, and helping to stop chronic inflammatory responses that lead to joint pain, and progressive diseases.
In addition, it provides glycine, which appears to improve sleep quality, increase mental clarity, and promote calm.
Arabic Gum Vs. Goma Xantano Vs. Guar gum
Acacia gum and other gums/fibers like xanthan gum, locust bean gum, and guar gum are common ingredients in foods like candy, baked goods, and sweets.
These ingredients are used in food manufacturing, baking, and baking to create gels and manipulate how fluffy, brittle, or soft a product is.
These “gelling agents” dictate the texture and chewiness of a product by helping to absorb water and bind ingredients. It is common for gums to be found in sweet products and desserts, which generally come out best when pectin, gelatin, and starch are combined.
Xanthan gum is a complex exopolysaccharide, a polymer made up of sugar residues secreted by pathogenic plant bacteria.
It occurs when the bacterium Xanthomonas campestris ferments glucose, sucrose, or lactose; It is then turned into a solid with isopropyl alcohol, dried, and ground into a fine powder, which is added to the liquid to form rubber.
It is considered safe to consume up to 15 grams of xanthan gum per day, found in bread, packaged baked goods, salad dressings, soups, condiments, and more.
Xanthan gum may have some unique benefits, including helping people who have difficulty emptying food into the esophagus due to muscle or nerve abnormalities and potentially reducing tumor growth.
It can also serve as a natural alternative to gluten as a binding agent in cooking.
Guar gum is a vegetable-derived gum extracted from the endosperm of the legume seeds Cyamopsis tetragonoloba.
These crops are native to India and Pakistan. Guar gum and locust bean gum are chemically similar; both are useful for creating thick gels.
As is acacia gum, guar gum is sometimes used as a vegetarian alternative to gelatin.
You will find guar gum in foods like homemade cheeses, curd, yogurt, sauces, soups, and frozen desserts. It is considered non-toxic and safe when consumed in small amounts but can contribute to digestive problems when taken in high doses.
Gum arabic powder supplements and dosage
Gum arabic is sometimes used in powdered and dry supplement form to help treat conditions such as high cholesterol, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), constipation, and to help promote weight loss.
One of the reasons many people are drawn to gum arabic is because it is a convenient way to consume prebiotics and promote the growth of “good” bacteria in the gut.
Acacia gum can also be applied to the skin or inside the mouth to help treat the plaque and gums (gingivitis) and fight inflammation or redness.
There is currently no ‘upper limit’ for gum arabic for human consumption that has been established. Studies suggest that humans should not exceed 10 milligrams of acacia per kilogram of body weight daily.
The report published in the EFSA Journal mentioned above found that even ‘daily oral intake of a large amount of acacia gum up to 30,000 mg acacia gum/person per day (approximately 430 mg acacia gum/kg body weight per day) up to 18 days was well tolerated in adults «.
When using gum arabic supplements, it is recommended that you take about 15 grams per day. Higher doses can cause side effects, so start with a low amount and monitor your reaction.
Where to buy gum arabic and recipes with gum arabic
Gum arabic can usually be found in big box stores like Walmart or bought online, like Amazon. Check the ingredient label on any product you buy to ensure the gum is made from real acacias.
According to EFSA, the term ‘gum Arabic does not indicate a particular botanical source, so some products may pretend to be gum arabic but contain fibers from another plant.
Gum arabic is soluble in cold water, so you don’t need to heat it to do its job. Warm or room temperature water is usually sufficient to dissolve the powder.
The amount of dissolved soluble sugars (such as acacia) that you choose to use in recipes will determine how hard or soft the final product is. For example, when you use more acacia gum, you will get a more solid texture than when you are useless.
Here are some of the ways you can use gum arabic powder at home:
To help the cakes rise and form a fluffy texture, use about five grams of gum arabic powder for every three eggs you use in your recipe.
In other words, if you are making a small cake that only requires one egg, uses about 1.5 grams of acacia gum/powder.
Five grams of gum arabic is typically one teaspoon, but check the directions/recommendations for the exact product you are using.
If you want to create a glossy frosting on baked goods, mix about 10 ml / 2 teaspoons of gum arabic with 60 ml / 2 fl oz. of water. This recipe can also be used as a glaze for marzipan or to create a shiny fondant.
Store unopened gum in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight. You can keep unopened gum arabic for up to two years. Once you open the powder, store it in the refrigerator for six months.
It’s best to keep the gum arabic in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Adding a few drops of rubbing alcohol to any mixture you make with gum arabic will also increase its shelf life.
Gum arabic is believed to have been harvested in Arabia, Sudan, and western Asia for hundreds (if not thousands) of years. It is produced as a sticky liquid that oozes from the stems and branches of acacia trees (Acacia Senegal and A. seyal), which grow through the Sahelian belt of Africa, especially Sudan.
Today, the term “gum arabic” does not indicate a particular botanical source or tree, but gum arabic traditionally comes from the Acacia Senegal and A. seyal trees.
While the gum arabic industry in Sudan has declined in recent decades, mainly because Sudan is “politically unstable” at times, hundreds of thousands of Sudanese still depend on gum arabic for their livelihood.
The Darfur region of Sudan remains the world’s largest producer of gum arabic, where the Sudanese government heavily controls production.
In Sudan, gums harvested from acacia trees are Indian gum arabic or Talha. Other nations included in the “gum belt” of sub-Saharan Africa are Chad, Eritrea, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal.
Gum arabic is a natural fibrous product used as a thickening agent, emulsifier, and flavor stabilizer in various food and industrial products. It is widely used in the pharmaceutical, food, textile, ceramic and cosmetic industries.
Two types of acacia trees (Acacia Senegal and A. seyal), grown in the Sahelian belt of Africa, especially in Sudan, are the primary sources of gum arabic.
Gum arabic is indigestible to humans, meaning it is not broken down in the intestines but rather ferments in the colon.
This leads to a variety of potential health benefits, such as acting as a prebiotic, feeding the ‘good’ probiotic bacteria, improving gut health, helping with fullness and appetite control, and helping to regulate body fat, insulin, and cholesterol.
You can take gum arabic in powdered supplement form or use small amounts when cooking or baking. It will help the cakes rise and form a fluffy texture and give confectionery / baked goods a glossy finish.