Xanthan gum is used to thicken and add texture to many processed foods. It results from fermenting sucrose or glucose with Xanthomonas campestris bacteria. Xanthan gum is most frequently found in commercial products, such as salad dressings, prepackaged sauces and glazes, where it prevents separation and settling of suspended ingredients, resulting in a more attractive product with a longer shelf life. People with sensitivity to corn-derived ingredients may have or develop a food allergy to xanthan gum, in which case it may be necessary to seek xanthan gum alternatives.
Guar gum is manufactured from guar beans, also known as cluster beans. Because it does not involve sugars derived from corn, guar gum may be suitable for individuals who choose to limit their corn intake. Guar gum is added to foods in powder form, which results from dehydrating and grinding the raw beans.
Gum arabic is an alternative thickener and stabilizer to xanthan gum, made from the acacia tree's sap. Because it readily dissolves in water and is very adhesive, gum arabic is often preferred for use in confections and bakery products.
It is often said that carrageenan is made from seaweed, when in fact it comes from Irish moss, a type of red algae. Carrageenan is also a vegan-friendly substitute for gelatin, which is made from animal byproducts.
Locust Bean Gum
Locust bean gum is also known as carob gum. Like guar gum, carob gum is made from powdered locust beans. Locust bean gum and other xanthan gum substitutes may add to food's nutrition by contributing fiber without adding calories. However, the safety and nutritional value of locust bean gum is in dispute.