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Acacia (Arabic) Gum

What is acacia (arabic) gum?

Acacia or arabic gum is a soluble fiber obtained from the sap of Acacia senegal and Acacia seyal legume trees grown in sub-Saharan Africa [8]. It is a mixture of indigestible polysaccharides and glycoproteins. It can be broken down (fermented) by normal colonic bacteria into substances that are absorbed; according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it can provide 1,7 Calories per gram [1]. In the European Union, acacia gum is labeled as E number E414 [2].

Gum Arabic as a Food Additive

Gum arabic is used as a thickener and emulsifier in dairy products, canned foods, soybean products, soft drinks and syrups (gomme syrup), essential oils, hard gummy candies, confectionery and other foods. It is also used in pills and cough syrups.

Gum Arabic Supplements (Acacia Fiber)

Acacia fiber as a powder, tablets and capsules are available over-the-counter (OTC).

There is INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE about acacia gum effectiveness in prevention or treatment of high blood glucose or cholesterol levels [8,11,12], periodontal disease [8], promoting the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria (a prebiotic effect) [4], constipation [12], irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) [5], fecal incontinence [9] or promoting weight loss [6,7].

Acacia Fiber Safety: Toxicity, Side Effects

Gum arabic is nontoxic and Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [10]. If ingested in excess, it may cause nausea, abdominal bloating and excessive gas (flatulence). Allergies to gum arabic are possible [8].

Pregnancy. Not enough studies have been done to evaluate the safety of the acacia fiber during pregnancy and breastfeeding [8].

Related Nutrients

  1. Industry response to gum arabic calorie count decision  Food navigator-usa.com
  2. Current EU approved additives and their E Numbers  Food Standards Agency
  3. Acacia side effects  WebMD
  4. Roberfroid, M., 2007, Prebiotics: the concept revisited  The Journal of Nutrition
  5. Min YW et al, 2012, Effect of composite yogurt enriched with acacia fiber and Bifidobacterium lactis  PubMed Central
  6. Babiker R et al, 2012, Effects of gum Arabic ingestion on body mass index and body fat percentage in healthy adult females: two-arm randomized, placebo controlled, double-blind trial  PubMed Central
  7. Acacia  WebMD
  8. Acacia gum  Drugs.com
  9. Bliss DZ ert al, 2002, Dietary fibre supplementation with psyllium or gum arabic reduced faecal incontinence in community-living adults  BMJ Open
  10. SCOGS (Select Committee on GRAS Substances)  US Food and Drug Administration
  11. Jensen CD et al, 1993, The effect of acacia gum and a water-soluble dietary fiber mixture on blood lipids in humans  PubMed
  12. A study of the effects of dietary gum arabic in humans  The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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