The guar gum is the ground endosperm of the guar plant seed found mainly in India and Pakistan. It also occurs in Texas in the United States. It grows mainly in the arid and semi arid regions. Chemically, the guar gum is a polysaccharide composed of mannose and galactose units joined by glycosidic linkages. The guar gum is soluble in cold water and effectively acts as a non ionic hydrocolloid. This makes it an effective thickening agent for various food applications. Due to its relatively cheap cost and availability, it has gained widespread popularity not only in food but also in other industrial applications.
Health Aspects of the Guar Gum
Studies indicate the guar gum is beneficial for a few specific areas of health and provide some health benefits.
Due to its high levels of fiber, it has been found to support a healthy digestive system. Studies have found that it can help relieve constipation through speeding up food movement through intestinal tract.
Since the guar is a type of soluble fiber, it can slow absorption of sugar and lead to reduction in the blood sugar levels. Research has shown that regular consumption of food with guar gum leads to a significant drop in blood sugar and a rapid decline in the level of LDL cholesterol in the body.
Research has found that soluble fibers such as the guar gum have a cholesterol lowering effect. The fiber binds the bile acids in the body and causes them to be excreted. This decreases the amount of bile acids in circulation and forces the liver to use up cholesterol and produce more bile acids. This leads to a decrease in the cholesterol levels in the body.
This is mainly associated with the role of fiber in reducing the total food intake. The fiber moves through the body undigested, thus promoting a satiated feeling and reducing the person’s appetite. The guar gum has been found to cause reduction of appetite and reduced intake of calories from snacks consumption.
Food Processing Applications
The guar gum solutions show good stability in most food processing operations and recipes. They have also been found to have good thermal stability at neutral PH levels. The cold solubility and good freeze – thaw stability has also made the guar popular in cold processed / frozen foods. In ice cream formulation, it is used to provide that smooth melt down and reduce the thermal shock while in meat products it helps prevent fat migration and dripping of fats in sausages.
Control of Viscosity
The main property of guar gum is its ability to form the viscous colloidal solutions after hydrating with cold water. The resulting solutions exhibit a variance in viscosity versus the shear rate of the non – Newtonian fluids.
The guar gum is also used in viscosity control during processing whereby it prevents clumping at the filling heads during canning processes. It is also widely used as a flour additive in the backing industry.