Gum arabic is a natural gum coming from the sap of the acacia tree.
Gum arabic is a very popular ingredient that you can see on almost all the labels of commercially processed food products available. So, you might have wondered, is this ingredient safe for my vegan diet?
Well, definitely yes. Gum arabic is vegan. It is also sometimes called gum sudani, senegal gum, indian gum, and most commonly called acacia gum. It is a complex mixture of glycoproteins and polysaccharides, which are all plant-based compounds.
Read on to learn more about gum arabic, its purpose, and why it is considered vegan.
What Is Gum Arabic?
Gum arabic is a good source of dietary fiber that is commonly obtained from the stems and branches of acacia trees. Aside from being used in the food industry, you can normally see it as a component in glue making, watercolor paints binder, and making incense.
Gum arabic is a magic ingredient in food processing because it serves different purposes. It serves as an emulsifier, stabilizer, and a good thickening agent in processed food products.
Gum arabic has the properties to act as a good emulsifying agent. An emulsifier is something that can combine water and oil contents to mix the ingredients easier. Normally, eggs are used as emulsifiers, but since they can easily cause spoilage, gum arabic is a good option for processed foods.
Gum arabic can easily provide a stable texture in food products. Moreover, it helps in stabilizing the nutrients and other components of the food to avoid easy separation. Lastly, gum arabic can provide the overall body and mouthfeel of the product in a longer timespan.
Aside from being used to emulsify and stabilize food products, gum arabic is also widely used to thicken the viscosity of liquid components. What’s interesting is that gum arabic can do this without altering the liquids’ other properties along the thickening process.
Why Is Gum Arabic Considered Vegan?
Because of its ingredients. Gum arabic is usually obtained from species of the acacia family, such as the Vachellia seyal and Acacia senega.
Moreover, commercially available gum arabic are typically composed of the following: galactose, arabinose, and AGP complex, which stands for arabinogalactan protein complex.
Now, galactose is a problematic issue for some members of the vegan community. This is because galactose belongs to the lactose family, which is usually found in milk products. But, you should not worry about the free galactose contents of gum arabic, because this kind of lactose is generally found in fruits and vegetables rich in pectin.
Nutritional Information Of Gum Arabic
The following table below presents the nutritional information of gum arabic. The stated nutritional information is subject to change as its contents may vary depending on different variables. It is still best advised to check the labels carefully before buying or using the product.
|Nutritional contents||Amount per serving|
|Dietary Fiber||4 g|
|Total Fat||0 g|
|Saturated fat||0 g|
|Polyunsaturated fat||0 g|
|Monounsaturated fat||0 g|
|Trans fat||0 g|
Vegan Foods That Contain Gum Arabic
There are lots of commercially processed food products that actually contain gum arabic. Some of these products are very known to you that you might be surprised to know that it contains our featured ingredient.
Vegan Ice Cream And Desserts
Yes, you read that right. First on our list are sweet treats such as ice cream and desserts. As we’ve discussed earlier, gum arabic has the tendency to thicken food products better. It has the property to increase the viscosity of liquids without affecting other properties. Hence, manufacturers love using gum arabic to maintain the viscosity of their products, especially the ice cream.
Thanks to food technology experts, we can enjoy some gummy worms. And of course, the credit goes to the amazing thickening properties of the gum arabic as well. Gum arabic has been a perfect substitute for gelatin and other non-vegan thickening agents in “gummy” products.
Gelatin is a problematic ingredient for vegans because it is an animal product. Manufacturers use animal tissues, and boil them to achieve gelatin.
Gum arabic is used in many more vegan food products. Now, let’s discuss some of the gum arabic applications that are not so vegan-friendly.
When Does Gum Arabic Become Problematic To Vegans?
Gum arabic is vegan itself. However, it is also oftentimes applied in a non-vegan way. This is when certain manufacturers combine gum arabic with other non-vegan ingredients to achieve better product quality.
For example, in ice cream production, some manufacturers use gum arabic, and gelatin at the same time. This is to ensure that the body of the ice cream will stay intact for a long time. It can be easily achieved by combining both of the ingredients.
Thus, you should always be careful in selecting products and make sure to buy those without gelatin contents.
Health Benefits Of Using Gum Arabic
There are lots of health benefits to using gum arabic because it’s very natural and organic. In this section, we will talk about how gum arabic can help you relieve some of the most common health problems that we have to deal with almost every day.
It Relieves Irritable Bowel Syndrome
Since gum arabic is rich in fiber, it can easily ease your IBS symptoms. Recent studies show that yogurt with gum arabic contents can lessen IBS symptoms compared to using control products.
It Can Help You Lose Weight
A study showed that gum arabic can generate better results when it comes to weight management.
It Can Potentially Lower Your Cholesterol
Clinical trials have proven that acacia fiber can lower the cholesterol of rats. This can be attributed to the fact that food rich in soluble fibers can actually impact how your body manages its cholesterol levels.
Dietary Fibers Can Alleviate Diabetes
An animal-based study showed that acacia fiber can help diabetic mice in lowering their blood pressure.
Gum Arabic Supports A Healthy Liver
A clinical trial on animals shows that acacia fiber helps in guarding the liver against threats caused by acetaminophen. The authors of these trials have stated that acacia fiber reduces the oxidative stress caused by acetaminophen to help the liver fight its causes.
Are There Any Side Effects Of Using Gum Arabic?
Nothing is made perfect, right? Using gum arabic frequently and out of moderation can also cause several side effects. Since gum arabic is mostly made up of fiber from acacia, you can experience side effects from fibers. These side effects include bloating or constipation.
Also, there is little research on acacia fiber being safe for supplements. Thus, it is still best advised to consult your physician before taking any supplements made from acacia fiber. Moreover, those that are pregnant and those having serious ailments, are advised to have medical opinions first before trying any acacia fiber supplements.
Lastly, acacia fiber can only help you relieve symptoms and can never be used to treat a specific illness or disease unless advised by a medical professional. This article is not responsible for any medical problems that may arise and is always advising you to seek medical advice.
Gum Arabic Is 100% Vegan
Now that we’ve learned a lot about gum arabic, there’s no need to panic and be confused whenever you encounter it in the ingredient label of your favorite vegan product. It is 100% made from plant-based ingredients.
It is mostly used in processed food products, such as ice cream and candies because of its emulsifying, stabilizing, and thickening properties. It has several health benefits but can also cause side effects upon irresponsible use.