You're casually reading the label on a seemingly healthy food package while grocery shopping and you see the ingredient "guar gum." What the heck is it? And more importantly, is it healthy or something you should avoid?
Guar gum is a soluble fiber made from the seeds of the guar bean, and it's a food additive that's used as a binder, stabilizer, thickener, or firming agent. "If you eat processed foods, it's hard to avoid guar gum because it's found in such a wide range of products including dairy products, desserts, salad dressings, and other condiments, cereals, and soups," said registered dietitian Jessica Levings, MS, RD from Balanced Pantry, as well as gluten-free products.
Registered dietitian Leslie Langevin, MS, author of The Anti-Inflammatory Kitchen Cookbook, reassured us that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers guar gum to be "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) for human consumption in normal amounts found in foods. Jessica said that limited research suggests that guar gum may aid in digestive health, blood sugar and cholesterol regulation, and weight maintenance mostly due to its soluble fiber content. She added that the "FDA also recently included guar gum as one of the non-digestible carbohydrates meeting the agency's fiber definition based on its cholesterol-lowering effect."
Although Jessica said it's not a food that needs to be avoided, you may not feel great when you eat it. Although some people may find it helpful for digestion, Leslie said "it is not a food I usually recommend and can sometimes cause GI distress," such as bloating and gas, especially if you eat it in large quantities.
So while I wouldn't go out of your way to consume foods containing guar gum, at least we know it's safe and that it's made from a plant and not some chemical!