Xanthan vs. Guar Gum: Gluten Alternatives Compared

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Difference between Xanthan and Guar Gum

Xanthan and guar gum are two of those ingredients that you often see listed on the labels of commercially packaged foods, but many are unaware of what they are and what they do exactly. As it turns out, both serve essential purposes in commercial food production. In this article, we compare the characteristics of each.

Xanthan
Guar Gum

Profile

Xanthan is a polysaccharide that comes from the bacterial coating of the Xanthomonas campestris organism. It is a widely used food additive and thickening agent, and it is used in a wide variety of food and non-food products, such as salad dressing and even cosmetics. In such products, Xanthan is used in order to keep the ingredients from separating.

Guar gum is a food ingredient that comes mostly from the ground endosperm of guar beans. Its main functions in guar beans are to serve as a source of food and a means of water storage.

Production Process

Xanthan is produced via a fermentation process that involves a reaction of the Xanthomonas campestris bacterium with glucose, sucrose, or lactose. After fermentation, the polysaccharide is treated with isopropyl alcohol to encourage precipitation from the growth medium. The resulting substance is then dried and ground finely, and later added to liquid in order to form the Xanthan gum.

In guar gum production, the seeds undergo dehusking, milling and screening processes in order to produce a pale powder of varying consistency. The bean itself is mostly grown in India and Pakistan, although countries such as the U.S., Australia, China, and Africa produce smaller crops as well.

Usage

As mentioned previously, Xanthan is commonly used in food products such as salad dressings and sauces. In these products, Xanthan is used as a stabilizer that prevents the separation of oils in the product. It is also used to suspend solid particles in liquids.

In desserts and certain beverages, Xanthan is also used to produce a more suitable texture, such as in ice cream. In such foods, Xanthan is often used along with ingredients such as guar gum and locust bean gum. Other common uses of Xanthan are as ingredients in toothpaste and commercially made dough or batter. In baked goods, Xanthan is often used as a substitute for gluten, and as a thickening agent for egg substitutes.

Due to its laxative properties, guar gum is often used as a means to promote regular bowel movements, and to ease the symptoms of constipation and bowel ailments such as Crohn's disease, colitis and irritable bowel syndrome.

Summary

Xanthan

  • A polysaccharide that comes from the bacterial coating of the Xanthomonas campestris organism
  • A widely used food additive and thickening agent
  • Used as an alternative to gluten
  • Often used to keep food ingredients from separating
  • Often used along with ingredients such as guar gum and locust bean gum
  • Side effects in gas and bloating

Guar gum

  • A food ingredient that comes mostly from the ground endosperm of guar beans
  • Often used as a means to promote regular bowel movements and to ease the symptoms of constipation and bowel ailments
  • Used in food products to promote a feeling of fullness
  • Can cause intestinal blockage if consumed in large quantities
  • Has been linked to colon cancer

 
 

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