Gum arabic: Benefits, virtues, side effects and nutritional value

Gum arabic: Benefits, virtues, side effects and nutritional value

Gum arabic is a substance produced naturally by acacias to close wounds in its bark and prevent the entry of germs. To produce it, parallel and shallow longitudinal cuts of 40/60 mm or frames are made.

The amount varies depending on the tree but, each one can produce an average of up to 250 g. The Egyptians used it in the process of mummification, to elaborate cosmetics and perfumes, it even led to wars in the 18th century.

Nowadays it is used in the food industry to fix aromas, modify the consistency of foods, elaborate dyes, stabilize foam and emulsions and clarify wines.

What is gum arabic?

gum arabic

Gum arabic is a polysaccharide of natural origin. It is extracted from the acacia due to its natural healing process. The acacia exudes an amber resin that is collected by hand once dry.

As an additive it is known in the food industry as E-414. According to the European Union, industrialized gum arabic can cause allergies in sensitive people or damage the activity of various enzymes.

The product can be 100% natural and vegetable with 1005 natural methods. It is harvested only from wild acacia trees that grow without pesticides. Most grow south of the Sahel, in Africa.

Composition of gum arabic

At the chemical level it is a polysaccharide with variable amounts of D-galactose, L-rhamnose, L-arabinos and some acids such as D-glucuronic acid or 4-O-methyl-D-glucuronic acid.

It is a yellow-brown substance flammable at high temperatures (above 250°C) and soluble in water.

Benefits of gum arabic

The gum arabic has, in addition to its uses in the food industry, medicinal properties.

Properties for treating respiratory and eye infections

The gum arabic is used for the treatment of cough, sore throat, inflammations and eye infections such as conjunctivitis, digestive and urinary disorders.

The acacia has medicinal properties that help treat inflammation of the eyes due to dust. This condition is common in farmers, cowboys and travelers and all those exposed to the elements. Acacia seeds should be applied over the inflamed area in each eye.

Forms a protective and soothing layer on digestive and urinary tract infections

Relieves cough, sore throat, catarrh, diarrhea and dysentery for its property as a natural astringent.

Combining acacia with brown sugar can effectively treat typhoid fever, although, gum arabic is usually dissolved in water to obtain a mucilage or viscous substance that acts as the drug, but to improve its flavor are added for each part of gum 3 parts of sugar. It is recommended to consume it 3 to 4 times a day.

Uses of gum arabic

In the nineteenth century a mixture of gum arabic with potassium dichromate was used. This mixture was sensitive to light and allowed to make photographic prints. With the passing of the years this use was forgotten.

It is also used as a glue, especially when rolling cigarettes, to stick stamps and postal envelopes.

It is used in food products such as chewy candies and sweets typical of Morocco and oriental gastronomies.

It is also used in the cutting of illegal drugs to get a better economic performance. It is common in low quality hashish.

It is authorized as a protective colloid in young wines to improve its stability in the bottle, preventing the coloring matter from precipitating as pigments and tartrates. It also increases the balance and the organoleptic characteristics of the wine, reducing bitterness and astringency, improving the wine's fat sensation.

Gum arabic is added in order to stabilize the mixture of fireworks and pyrotechnic products. It is used as a binder to cohere the mixture and protect it from moisture.

Products like chewing gum, soft drinks, mascara and yoghurts require gum arabic to be functional as this substance is emulsifier, acts as a texturizing agent and film generator, dietary fiber, stabilizer and transporter.

Gum arabic is natural, does not contain pesticides or transgenic. It also has few calories, is odorless, rich in fiber and colorless.

It is recognized as having no negative effect on health and neither the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nor the JEFCA (Joint FAO / WHO Expert Committee on Food Assets) have established an acceptable daily intake for gum arabic.

Answers to frequently asked questions

Answers to asked questions

Q: What does gum arabic mean?

A: The term gum arabic means amorphous and sticky substance, exuded by certain plants, which hardens on contact with air and is insoluble in alcohol.

Q: What foods contain gum arabic?

A: Many are foods that contain gum arabic as:

  • Salad dressings to prevent water and oil from separating.
  • Milk cream.
  • Mustard.
  • Dairy based desserts.
  • Desserts and sweets like sugar free sweets and low fat ice cream.
  • Creamy dairy products.
  • Dry egg products.
  • Cheese.
  • Soft drinks and drinks.
  • It is used as a seasoning for nuts.
  • Sorbets.

Where is gum arabic purchased?

It can be purchased at Halal products stores and Arabian butchers. It is known in Arabic as "Miska al-hurra" which means "pure rubber".


[1] : 12 Health Benefits of Arabic Gum
[2] : Effect of Gum Arabic on Oxidative Stress and Inflammation in Adenine–Induced Chronic Renal Failure in Rats

Posted on 05/24/2018 by Naziha Hadden Benefits and virtues of herbs 2 138293

2 commentaires

  • Escuain

    Escuain 12/06/2020

    Combien de Kilo Calories pour 100g de Gomme d'acacia, (gomme arabique (E414)) ?
    Cordialement, Antonio Escuain,
  • Relizane

    Relizane 12/27/2018

    On peut mettre de la gomme arabic dans les gâteau aussi, comme chebakya

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