Acacia Gum as a functional ingredient for Food and Beverage applications

Acacia Gum as a functional ingredient for Food and Beverage applications

Acacia Gum also known as Gum Arabic is an all-natural gum made of the hardened sap from two species of the acacia tree, Senegal and Seyal. It is a complex mixture of glycoproteins and polysaccharides predominantly consisting of arabinose and galactose. Although acacia gum is not an actual emulsifier, the protein faction allows surface behavior which forms a colloidal film around oil droplets.

Acacia gum is a popular gum in beverage applications because of its functionality without adding any additional viscosity. It works in a wide pH range of between 2 to 10 and can withstand changes in temperature like those used during pasteurization. However, it is sensitive to prolonged exposure to high heat because of the protein in its structure. In carbonated soda, plant-based beverages, and other non-alcoholic beverages its main function as an emulsifier and stabilizer. For brewers it helps stabilize foam and in wine used to improve mouthfeel and prevent off-flavors from forming.

In the bakery products and some gluten-free one’s acacia gum adds stability by reducing the water activity and improves softness and mouthfeel thanks to the increased water retention. In pastries it acts like an emulsifier between fat/water interfaces and has been shown to increase softness in some bakery products by 25 percent and extend product shelf life by up to 50 percent. It works as a texturizer and binder in hard candy coatings and prevents crystallization in sugary foods like confectionary glazes and in sweet marinades.

Acacia gum works in sugar reduced food products by decreasing the loss of volume and texture when taking the sugar out while also increasing mouthfeel. In addition, acacia gum can be used in combination with a polyol or sweetener like sucralose to make up for the loss of creaminess in sugar free foods and mask the associated bitterness.

Acacia gum has excellent solubility and can be dissolved in either hot or cold water. Solutions made with acacia gum do not require pre-mixing with dry ingredients to facilitate hydration. In building and water/oil emulsion you need to dissolve the gum in water before introducing it to any oil. It is possible to make solutions with up to 55% concentration with the solution still being flowable. Most applications the usage ranges are between 1% to 3% but in grain based nutritional bars the allowable limit is 35%.

Gum Acacia is generally recognized as a safe food additive and is considered a natural prebiotic with benefits including the lowering of glycemic response and improving overall gut health.  The FDA does not consider acacia gum a dietary fiber due to insufficient evidence to support the physiological effect on human health.  (Some countries do consider gum acacia a fiber so check local regulations) For more information or a sample of acacia gum please contact your local SPI Group Representative.