Guar gum is a type of polysaccaride which comes from the seed of the legume plant Cyamopsis tetragonolobus. It is available in capsules, flours, and granules. Guar gum is considered a soluble fiber and may help improve the way your body digests and absorbs the nutrients from foods. Guar gum is used most often to thicken foods and can be found in foods such as gravies, ice cream, salad dressing, sauces and soups.
Margaret McWilliams, in her book, "Foods: Experimental Perspectives," states that guar gum can help to thicken, bind, and stabilize the ingredients in foods. In foods, the gums attract and bind to water making them a unique way to thicken foods while adding fiber at the same time. Guar gum flour can be used in recipes in place of white flour for those with gluten allergies. Guar gum can also be used in place of flours and fats in recipes to help decrease the calorie content of the foods while still maintaining the foods desired thickness and overall texture. Guar gum contains, at most, 1 calorie per gram compared to flour at 4 calories per gram, and fat at 9 calories per gram.
The unique water binding capacity of guar gums make them an ideal additive to the diet when dealing with weight loss. "Handbook of Dietary Fiber" notes that the fiber in guar gums can help to increase the viscosity of the stomach contents resulting in delayed stomach emptying time. Delayed rate of digestion and stomach emptying time can help you to feel more full for a longer period of time, resulting in decreased calorie intake from foods.
Guar gum is classified as a soluble fiber. According to the American Heart Association, soluble fiber is linked to decreased LDL cholesterol levels and decreased risk of heart disease. Guar gum can help to decrease the rate and amount of fat digestion from foods which also helps to decrease your overall daily fat intake. This can result in improved cholesterol levels over time.
Guar gum can help slow down the breakdown and absorption of the nutrients contained in foods. In the "Handbook of Dietary Fiber," Sungsoo Cho and Mark L. Dreher state that this can lead to decreased carbohydrate, or sugar, breakdown resulting in decreased blood sugar levels after meals. This can help those with diabetes to better manage their blood sugar levels.
According to Sungsoo Cho and Mark L. Dreher, The Food and Agriculture Organization of the World Health Organization reports that the acceptable daily intake of guar gum is not limited meaning that their is a relatively low risk for adverse side affects associated with taking guar gum. They also state that studies show no adverse effect on patients given 30 grams of guar gum a day for 12 months. Some associated gas, diarrhea, and nausea was noted in patients initially however this decreased over time with regular use. A decreased rate of drug absorption was seen when taking guar gum, however overall amount of drug absorbed remained the same. This means that it may take your body longer to use certain medicines when taking guar gum. Be sure to discuss the risks and benefits of taking guar gum with your doctor.
- University of Maryland: Fiber
- "Foods: Experimental Perspectives, Fifth Edition" Margaret McWilliams Ph.D., R.D;, 2005.
- "Handbook of Dietary Fiber" Sungsoo Cho and Mark L. Dreher; 2001.
- American Heart Association: Whole Grains and Fiber.