Locust bean gum comes from the seeds of the carob tree. It is also known as carob gum. If you are hearing about this for the first time, it might sound strange. Why would someone eat gum? But as a matter of fact, it is edible. And no, it is not at all sticky or gooey. Instead, it is typically in the form of a white powder. The tropical carob tree is similar to the cacao plant from which you get chocolate. 

Locust bean gum acts as a natural thickener added to different types of packaged food. Many products like yoghurt, ice cream, or cream cheese contain this ingredient in small amounts, so the flavour is not disturbed. The locust bean gum has a sweet taste with a subtle chocolate flavour. Hence, the food industry uses locust bean gum as a natural food additive. 

If you are a vegan and are worried about whether to choose this or not, you have nothing to worry about because it is plant-based. In addition, it has its use in preparing non-dairy desserts and yoghurt. Apart from being tasty, it has other nutritional benefits. In addition, locust bean gum is also gluten-free.

Nutritional Properties of Locust Bean Gum

As per USDA, 100 grams of locust bean gum holds the following nutritional values:

  • Energy: 332 kCal
  • Water: 15g
  • Protein: 4.6g
  • Total lipid (fat): 0.5g
  • Carbohydrates: 77.3g
  • Fibre: 77.3g
  • Calcium: 294mg
  • Sodium: 125mg

Carbohydrates 

One gram of locust bean gum contains 0.8 grams of carbohydrates, making it a low-carb food. However, people add it to carbohydrate-rich foods like ice cream and puddings as an additive or stabiliser. 

Fats and Protein

Locust bean gum provides a trace amount of fat. Similarly, it contains a negligible amount of protein.

Vitamins and Minerals

Locust bean gum does not offer many micronutrients. However, it has a good range of calcium content, about 3 mg per gram. 

Potential Health Benefits of Locust Bean Gum

There are a lot of health benefits when it comes to the consumption of locust bean gum. There are a few key benefits of why we should search for this thickener ingredient in the packed products. 

  • It is an entirely natural thickening agent. It gets directly extracted from the carob tree. At the same time, other thickening agents are synthetically produced and are full of chemicals.
  • It is a plant-based product. Locust bean gum is the perfect solution in a world where people are lactose intolerant and avoid consuming dairy products. 
  • It has no adverse reactions to other ingredients, making it perfect for use.

Other health benefits of locust gum bean are:

Improves Digestive Health

With the amount of fibre in locust bean gum, you might have realised that it would be good for digestion. For our digestive system, intake of fibre is essential. Dietary fibre is also present in many plant-based foods like oranges, beans, broccoli, avocados, and whole grain.

A study shows that locust bean juice or carob bean juice works as an effective alternative medicine for treating gastrointestinal disorders in adolescents and children. Drinking locust bean juice improves digestive health by rehydrating and decreasing the duration of diarrhoea. It contains pectin, the compound that helps treat diarrhoea. 

Helps Reducing Reflux in Infants

Reflux is a condition when babies spit out the liquid after reaching the stomach. As a result, the liquid is thrown out through the oesophagus, contributing to reflux or discomfort. Intake of locust bean seeds can reduce this discomfort. But be very careful about the amount you feed them. Also, consult your paediatrician before trying this because your infant might be allergic to it. The locust bean seed helps thicken the liquid once it reaches the stomach. In addition, the thickness of the solution prevents vomiting of the fluid, reducing the reflux in babies.

Locust Bean Gum Manages Blood Sugar

The natural inositol in locust bean seeds regulates the blood sugar level in the human body. It can also reduce blood sugar by limiting the amount of sugar and carbs the body absorbs. It has been researched and proved that this inositol sugar not only reduces blood sugar but also helps in improving insulin sensitivity. Interestingly, locust bean gum is an indigestible gel-forming complex carbohydrate. Therefore, it reduces the rate of gastric emptying, which lowers the postprandial serum glucose level. Further, a study states that locust bean gum might be helpful as an adjunct dietary treatment of diabetes mellitus in humans. 

Good for Weight Management

If you are on your weight loss journey and looking for healthy alternatives all the time, you don’t have to worry about eating locust bean gum. Instead, you can easily incorporate this into your daily diet because it is low in sugar and fat. In addition, the presence of high fibre is also a contributing factor in weight loss.

Locust Bean Gum Controls Hyperlipidemia

A study shows that eating locust bean gum or products with locust bean gum appears to be a safe approach to controlling hyperlipidemia. The results support using food products with locust bean gum to treat familial hypercholesterolemic children and adults. It regulates hyperlipidemia by reducing low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and improving HDL/LDL ratios. 

When to Avoid Locust Bean Gum

There are some cases where you need to avoid the consumption of locust bean gum. We must know in which cases It can prove to be harmful. Firstly, you need to be sure that you are not allergic to it before consumption.  If you are not sure about it, you can find out by an oral test with an allergist. It is possible that you may get one or the other breathing problem if you are allergic to the bean. If such a situation occurs, immediately contact your doctor, as it might sometimes become serious. However, revaluation research says few case reports of allergy to locust bean gum after oral intake is present. Most allergic reactions only come from occupational contact with locust bean gum.

Also, if you are allergic to locust bean seeds, you should avoid all kinds of carob-containing products. Although the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has generally recognised the locust bean seeds as safe, you need to stay cautious. For example, those with frequent occurrences of rhinitis and asthma might have to stay away from locust bean powder. Unfortunately, not enough studies are there to evaluate the safety of locust bean gum and its supplements during pregnancy and breastfeeding. 

Simple Recipes Using Locust Bean Gum

Ice Cream Recipe

The recipe given is for vanilla extract or cocoa powder. You can add the flavours and toppings as per your choice like nuts, resins, choco chips, or chopped fruits. It also allows you to mix the flavours and try something new every time. In the ingredients, keep the essential components measured and exact. Then, you can play with the type and amount of flavour you like.

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • Milk cream (cream): 240 g
  • Skimmed milk: 530 g
  • Skimmed milk powder: 49 g
  • Sugar: 120 g
  • Locust bean gum: 6 g (2 tsp)
  • Vanilla extract or cocoa according to taste

Instructions

  • Mix the sugar, locust bean gum, and powdered milk.
  • For the flavour, add either vanilla extract or cocoa powder.
  • Gently heat the milk in a pan.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the milk while boiling.
  • Keep stirring the mixture and make sure there are no lumps.
  • Let the mixture heat for around 10 minutes on medium flame.
  • Let it cool down to room temperature, keeping the lid closed.
  • Keep this in the fridge all night.
  • Gently mix the semi-moistened cream into the mixture using a spatula.
  • Put this container in the freezer. And your homemade ice cream is ready.

Vegan Cream Cheese

Serves: 2

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Refrigeration time: 2-3 hours

Ingredients

  • Silken tofu: 1 block (250 g)
  • Lemon juice: 2 tsp
  • Soy milk: 1 glass (250 ml)
  • Salt: 1 pinch
  • Oil: 2 tbsps
  • Locust bean gum: ½ tsp

Instructions

  • Finely mince the tofu in a mincer or blender.
  • Put the oil in a saucepan on medium heat.
  • Add the finely chopped tofu, milk, and lemon juice to the pan,
  • Put in the salt and locust bean gum and mix it properly.
  • While stirring, make sure there are no lumps formed.
  • Once the solution starts to thicken, turn off the heat.
  • Let it cool down to room temperature.
  • You can blend it again to avoid any lumps or roughness if you like.
  • Refrigerate for a few hours in a glass tub.
  • Serve it with some herbs, oregano, and sesame seeds.

‘Nutella’ – Cocoa and Hazelnut Spread

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Refrigeration time: 2-3 hours

Ingredients

  • Any plant-based milk: 200 ml 
  • Hazelnut: 50 g
  • Pure cocoa: 3 tbsp
  • Agave syrup: 3 tbsp
  • Locust bean gum: ½ tsp

Instructions

  • Finely chop the hazelnuts with the help of a grinder
  • Boil the milk on medium heat.
  • Add in the finely chopped hazelnuts, the cocoa powder, and the locust bean gum.
  • When the solution starts to boil, turn off the heat.
  • Now, put it in the processor with agave syrup.
  • Keep the mixture in the fridge for a few hours till it takes shape.
  • Homemade Nutella is ready.

Conclusion

Locust bean gum is a natural food thickener derived from the seeds of the carob tree. It tastes sweet and has a mild chocolate flavour. You will be able to find it in the ingredient list of some ice cream, yoghurt, or other packed food items in your fridge. Locust bean gum offers a negligible amount of fat, minerals, and protein. However, it provides certain health benefits. For example, locust bean gum helps reduce acid reflux symptoms, improves digestion, and regulates blood sugar levels. Although the locust bean seeds have been generally recognised as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it is advisable to check with your doctor for any allergies.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Is locust bean gum good for you?

A. Yes, locust bean gum is good for your health. There are various ways in which it can help you healthify your body. For example, it improves digestion, helps infants reduce reflux, reduces blood sugar, and helps in weight loss. Although it is advisable to check with your doctor for any allergies, especially if you are trying to feed your child for the first time, do check with your paediatrician.

Q. Why is locust bean gum used?

A. Locust bean gum acts as a natural food thickener. There are a few reasons why you might find it in your packaged ice cream, yoghurt, or some vegan desserts. This natural thickener has no artificial chemicals involved. It is plant-based which makes it vegan. And it has no adverse reactions to other ingredients, which makes it perfect for use.

Q. Is locust bean gum the same as xanthan gum?

A. No, locust bean gum and xanthan gum are food stabilisers, but they are two different products. Locust bean gum is not soluble in cold water, while the xanthan gum is cold-water-soluble. 

Q. Does locust bean gum cause bloating?

A. Locust bean gum is safe when consumed in small amounts. If there is an overdose, the side effects include mild digestive symptoms like gas, diarrhoea, bloating, and cramps. It is crucial that you keep the consumption under check as it might become very harmful to the body and may cause multiple side effects.

Q. Is locust bean gum the same as guar gum?

A. No, locust bean gum and guar gum are different. Locust bean gum comes from the tropical tree called carob, while guar gum is a fibre from the guar plant. They also differ in some physical properties. Moreover, locust bean gum is less soluble than guar gum. 

Q. Is carob and locust bean the same thing?

A. Yes, carob is another name for a locust bean. Carob trees found in the tropical region are the source of locust bean gum, also known as carob gum. When the carob tree pods ripen, they become dry and hard. These beans are extracted from the tree and powdered. This powder is called locust bean gum.

Q. Is locust bean gum Paleo?

A. If you talk about only the ingredient, yes, locust bean gum is Paleo. But this ingredient is used in many recipes and is mixed with many packed food products. Those products might not necessarily be Paleo. You’ll need to check all the other ingredients present in the pack.

Q. What can I substitute for locust bean gum?

A. If you want to avoid locust bean gum or need substitutes, there are a few alternatives. First, you can substitute it with Guar gum, Tara gum, Xanthan gum, or Gellan gum. Although it is important to note that Guar gum and Tara gum are derived from seeds/beans and are plant-based, Xanthan gum and Gellan gum comes from bacteria.

Q. Does locust bean gum have caffeine?

A. No, locust bean gum has no caffeine in it. It is caffeine-free and gluten-free. Also, it has low amounts of fat and sugar. That makes it a zero cholesterol ingredient.

Q. Is locust bean gum safe for babies?

A. Yes, locust bean gum is safe for babies. It can treat some dietary issues in infants. In addition, it helps reduce reflux in infants. But it is advisable to check with your paediatrician before trying to feed your child for the first time.

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