Guar gum is commonly used in food as a thickening agent. It’s especially useful for gluten-free baking if you can’t use regular flour in recipes. Guar gum is also used in medications and cosmetics. Here’s what you need to know.
What Is Guar Gum?
It comes from a cluster bean called Cyamopsis tetragonoloba, and it belongs to the legume family. The seeds are broken and separated into parts. The part referred to as the “undehusked guar split” is refined and made into a powder, while the remaining shells and seeds are used in animal feed.
The powder is mostly used as a thickener and stabilizer. Different types of guar gum powder have different uses in:
- Oil well drilling
Guar gum in food. When it comes to food use, guar gum is most often used in gluten-free foods. The gluten in flour is what provides the texture and elasticity common in bread. Flour alternatives don’t work as well for baking, and guar gum can provide the same qualities as gluten. Chia seeds and psyllium husk are other alternatives that act similarly to guar gum.
Other foods that can benefit from guar gum include:
- Fried foods: Guar gum reduces the amount of oil absorbed by the food during frying.
- Yogurt: It can make the texture creamier.
- Cake: Guar gum replaces fat and boosts the firmness.
- Pasta: It improves the texture.
- Ketchup: It gives it a thicker consistency.
- Drinks: It gives a longer shelf life to some drinks.
- Cheese: Guar gum keeps cheese from weeping and becoming soggy, giving it a longer shelf life.
- Meat products – In meats that are stuffed, like sausage, guar gum keeps fat from separating and also controls liquid.
Pros of Guar Gum
Eating options. If you have trouble digesting gluten, you know it can be challenging to find alternatives to common foods. Using guar gum lets you prepare and enjoy foods that would otherwise be off-limits. Using it in baking gives the dough the sticky elasticity that is so important. It provides the desired texture and consistency when you can’t use regular flour.
Possible health perks. Guar gum can boost the fiber in your diet. It may also help lower cholesterol, blood sugar, and the risk of heart disease.
You may feel more full after eating, too. This feeling of fullness might help you lose extra weight.
Cons of Guar Gum
Fire risk. Guar gum in its powder form is highly flammable. When exposed to a heat source, it may react violently.
Once you bake into food, it’s safe. But if you have guar gum as an ingredient in your pantry, use it with care during cooking. Don’t leave the powder open near the stove where it may catch fire.
Choking hazard. Guar gum has the potential to cause a blockage in your throat. This is more of a concern when used in medications rather than in foods.
Follow all instructions from your doctor and written on labels for the safest use of medications. Keep them out of reach of children and pets, as well.
Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns about using guar gum. This is especially true if you have Celiac disease and need to watch what you eat. Your doctor can make recommendations on the safety of guar gum and suggest what else to look for on product labels.