Locust Bean Gum Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Locust Bean Gum

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman 

A natural food additive derived from the seeds of the carob tree, locust bean gum is an ingredient in an array of products, such as ice cream, yogurt, and cream cheese. The gum, also called carob gum, acts as a stabilizing and thickening agent. It also offers a sweet, slightly chocolaty flavor. It's also used in inedible items, such as cosmetics, shoe polish, insecticides, and other products that need a thickener, including textiles and paper.

Although well known for its solidifying properties, locust bean gum also offers health benefits such as easing digestive symptoms and improving blood sugar levels. However, its typical serving size is so small that it does not have much of an impact on health.

Locust Bean Gum Nutrition Facts

The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 gram of locust bean gum.

  • Calories: 3
  • Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 1mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0.8g
  • Fiber: 0.8g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 0g

Carbs

One gram of locust bean gum contains less than 1 gram of carbohydrate, making it a a very low carbohydrate ingredient, but it is often found in foods that are rich in carbohydrate such as pie fillings and ice cream.

Fats

Locust bean gum contains a trace amount of fat. However, foods using this additive often do contain a significant amount of fat. No more than 5% to 6% of your total daily caloric intake should come from saturated fat, per the recommendation of the American Heart Association.

Protein

Locust bean gum contains a negligible amount of protein.

Vitamins and Minerals

There are not many micronutrients in locust bean gum. It does contain a small amount of calcium (about 3mg per gram). 

Health Benefits

As one of the most common additives in the world, the chances of you consuming locust bean gum regularly is high. While the amount typically found in our diet is very small, research shows the gum, in larger doses, may offer significant health benefits.

Improves Digestive Conditions

Locust bean gum contains pectin, the compound that allows the gum to form into a gel. Research shows pectin aids in the treatment of diarrhea.

In a 2017 review of 14 research trials with 1,927 participants, carob bean juice (locust bean gum also comes from carob) was found to be an effective alternative medicine for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders in children and adolescents. No serious adverse effects were reported, but researchers note that more evidence is needed to determine appropriate effective dosages. 

Helps Babies With Reflux

Locust bean gum and other thickeners are sometimes used in infant formula to help reduce symptoms of reflux. But it's important to buy infant formula that includes locust bean gum as an ingredient, instead of trying to add your own locust bean gum to another formula that you purchase.

May Regulate Blood Sugar

Some research has shown that inositol, a sugar found in carob, may help regulate blood sugar. However, a dose larger than what is typically consumed in the diet is likely required to achieve this effect.

Allergies

There have been just a few cases of allergy to locust bean gum reported in the medical literature. If you suspect you have an allergy or sensitivity to this food additive, talk to your doctor about how to manage it.

To diagnose a food additive reaction, you typically need an oral test with the suspected additive. This is done under the supervision of an allergist to avoid any severe complications. If you are diagnosed, your doctor may suggest avoiding locust bean gum in your diet. 

Adverse Effects

As a food additive, locust bean gum is "generally recognized as safe" by the Food and Drug Administration.

Varieties

The locust bean is cloudy colored, ranging from pale white to pale yellow. If you purchase locust bean gum, it's usually in powder form with a transparent coloring. This transparency works well when incorporating the powder into your food as it won’t change the color of your dish.  

Locust bean gum can be used alone, but it is often combined with other thickeners. Food technologists combine locust beam gum with xanthan gum and kappa carrageenan to form a gel and give foods certain desired qualities, such as an elastic texture or an ability to reduce crystals forming on frozen food products. 

Storage and Food Safety

Locust bean gum powder is shelf-stable and can be stored for up to two years in a cool, dry place. It does not need to be refrigerated or frozen.

How to Prepare

Despite containing the name of an insect in its name, locust bean gum is 100% plant-derived and as such, is suitable for people who follow a vegan diet. It is used in some vegan recipes to replace dairy or egg ingredients. Locust bean gum is also gluten-free.

As a thickening agent, you can use locust bean gum when making homemade ice cream, yogurt, pie, and other foods. The gum needs to be heated in order to dissolve, otherwise, it leaves a gritty or chunky texture. Some helpful uses for locust bean gum in the home kitchen:

  • Stabilize fruit pie filling. Add bean gum to pastry fillings to help stabilize the fruit and keep it from spilling over the pie crust, which makes the crust soggy and leaves a mess in the oven.   
  • De-crystallize ice cream. To keep ice crystals from forming in your homemade ice cream, add locust bean gum. It will slow down the formation of crystals and diminish the size of the crystals. This is especially helpful if you won't be eating all the ice cream within a few days. 
  • Make vegan meringue. Locust bean gum can stabilize an egg-white meringue, or it can be combined with aquafaba (chickpea liquid) and other ingredients to make an egg-free meringue.
  • Stabilize whipped cream. Perk up your whipped cream by adding locust bean gum to heavy cream (or a non-dairy substitute) before you whip it.
  • Improve the texture of cheese dip. Locust bean gum can make thick cheese dips more spreadable.

You may want to test how locust bean gum works in your dish before committing to it since the gum contains a slight flavor. But usually, the other ingredients in your dish can easily overpower the taste of the gum. 

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Article Sources
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