Locust Bean Gum - Food Additive Analysis
Locust bean gum is derived from the seeds of the carob tree, and is sometimes referred to as carob bean gum. It's an edible product that usually comes in a white powder form and it has a sweet taste with a subtle chocolate flavor. It is used as an all-natural thickening agent in various types of pre-packaged food items, like yoghurts, ice cream, and cream cheese.
The carob tree is native to tropical climates and is very similar to the cacao plant, which is the source of chocolate. In comparison to synthetically derived thickeners that are often added during processing for a variety of food products, locust bean gum provides a more natural option.
In addition to being utilized as a thickening agent in food items, locust bean gum is also found in many other products such as toothpaste or shampoo. It has emulsifying properties that help keep ingredients blended together while providing extra lubrication and foaming action. Despite being more natural and less synthetically altered than some of the other gums, we’re not really sure if it’s healthy for one’s digestive organs to be consuming a product with such behavioral properties…
The science of locust bean gum so far
In a two year study conducted on rats, it was observed that when 5% of their diet consisted of locust bean gum, there were no known carcinogenic effects. So cancer was not observed. However long term consumption and effects have not been studied.
Research has also been done on humans to determine if locust bean gum has potential cholesterol-lowering properties. In this study, subjects with normal cholesterol levels as well as those with familial hypercholesterolemia were given 8-30 grams per day for a period of 8 weeks. Results showed that total cholesterol was reduced and HDL to LDL ratios were in fact changed.
THere were however harmful side effects of increased flatulence during the first weeks of the study.
We once again return to the same theme as with many of these other “gums.” If a substance causes unfavorable conditions in your digestive tract, it’s probably not an optimal nutrient and caution is warranted. We need to remember that the gut was one of the first organs to develop throughout the evolution of advanced life, and it has a strong innate ability to tell us when something is off. Gut health is very heavily linked with overall health., If a substance is giving you gut discomfort, the truth is there are a ton of other natural foods and ingredients that are highly nutritious and do not trouble your gut. Why choose one that does?