Thursday, June 11, 2009

Additives::What is Xanthum and Guar Gum?

I went to a popular "organic market" yesterday. I was about to buy something when I noticed it had an abundance of additives and preservatives. I looked through several items similar to the one I wanted to purchase and noticed these two additives, Xanthum Gum and Guar Gum were in everything. I know for a fact that I have never seen Xanthum Gum or Guar Gum in the vegeatable section so it has to be some man made drama going on.

So here's the scoop:::
Guar and xanthan gum aren't the safest ingredients. Guar gum can best be described as a natural food thickener, similar to locust bean gum, cornstarch or tapioca flour. Guar gum is said to have significantly more thickening ability than cornstarch, at a fraction of the cost. This has made guar gum a popular additive in products such as puddings and ice creams. Until recently, guar gum was also an ingredient in non-prescription diet pills designed to create a sense of fullness.

"FDA also recalled Cal-Ban 3000, a heavily advertised diet pill containing guar gum (a vegetable gum that swells when it absorbs moisture, providing a feeling of fullness, according to advertising claims) after receiving a number of consumer complaints of adverse reactions. In a number of cases, the tablet caused gastric or
esophageal obstruction, and one person died as a result of complications following surgery to remove the mass of gum blocking his throat."

The FDA states that some bulking agents (eg. guar gum) used in dietary supplements to swell the stomach and increase "fullness", can be harmful. In certain cases they can cause obstructions in the intestines, stomach, or esophagus. The FDA has taken legal action against several promoters of diet supplements containing guar gum.

Xanthan gum is considered a polysaccharide in scientific circles, because it is a long chain of three different forms of sugar. What's important to know is that all three of these natural sugars are present in corn sugar, a derivative of the more familiar corn syrup. The Xanthomonas campestris bacteria literally eat a supply of this corn sugar under controlled conditions, and the digestion process converts the individual sugars into a single substance with properties similar to cornstarch. Xanthan gum is used in dairy products and salad dressings as a thickening agent and stabilizer. Xanthan gum prevents ice crystals from forming in ice creams, and also provides a 'fat feel' in low or no-fat dairy products.

Are Additives Harmful?
Food additives preserve flavour or improve its taste and appearance. This basically means that companies know certain foods will be shelved longer than most or they expect them to have a long "shelf life". As a result, the foods won't be as nutritious to you and may taste better than they feel. Partially hydrogenated oils are acknowledged contributors in the obesity controversy among children and adults in the United States. Trans fatty acids are now added to many snack foods that we consume each day and some research indicates they are more harmful than saturated fats because they increase the plasma concentrations of LDL (low-density lipoprotein, also known as the “bad” cholesterol) while reducing the concentration of HDL (high-density lipoprotein, which removes cholesterol from the lining of your arteries.)

1 comment:

Guar Gum said...

thanx xanthan is sometimes better emulsifier than guar gum. Even though xanthan is derived from guar gum. thanks.