Xanthan gum: uses and properties of this ingredient
Xanthan gum is an ingredient that has increased its presence in the products of the shelves of the food industry .
Although it is not usual that when buying a product we thoroughly check the labels to read each of the ingredients that compose it, we usually check the taste and perhaps the nutritional value data, but if we take a look we can check that the xanthan gum is already present in many products.
But... What is xanthan gum? What are its uses and why has it become popular?
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Xanthan gum: its uses and properties
Xanthan gum is a high molecular weight polysaccharide obtained by the fermentation of carbohydrates . Its high capacity for solubility and stability in the presence of salts and its resistance to enzymes have made this substance one of the main polymers used in the food industry.
1. Properties of xanthan gum
The molecular structural rigidity of this gum gives it unusual properties such as heat stability, tolerance in acid, sour and basic solutions. Presents stable viscosity in wide ranges of temperature and resistance to enzymatic degradation.
It is not soluble in organic solvents. It is easily soluble in high and low temperatures. It must first completely dissolve in water and then add the chosen solvent under continuous agitation.
Aqueous solutions of xanthan gum They are highly viscous . This viscosity is not affected by temperature neither in the freezing nor in the boiling point. That is why it is chosen by the food industry because the properties of the final products where they are used remain indistinctly whether they are in refrigeration, at room temperature or even in hot areas.
The solutions of xanthan or xanthan gum are pseudo-plastic, important feature in the stabilization of suspensions and emulsions . This pseudo-plastic property improves the sensory characteristics of the final product (mouthfeel, flavor release) also guarantees a high degree of mixing, pumped and poured.
All these properties make xanthan gum a very popular ingredient in the food industry because it provides many advantages, and make it an excellent alternative for celiac people in the preparation of pastries, allowing the bread to sponge, potentiate the flavor and allow storage in cold or heat.
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2. Applications of this ingredient in food
The applications of xanthan gum in the food industry and in the preparation of homemade food are many and varied.
This is because thanks to its nature and its properties allow to add texture, flavor, viscosity and Substitute ingredients such as some additives, preservatives or gluten which are harmful to health taken in excess or to which some people are allergic.
Xanthan gum It is used mainly in bakery products because it helps them to sponge better by replacing the gluten in recipes , but its use is just as effective in other types of food.
It is efficient in making ice cream, because slows the formation of crystals in the freezing , which results in a much creamier product.
Flavored industrialized and packaged beverages
For drinks that include fruit pulp, xanthan gum It is used to keep pieces of fruit suspended, giving it a better appearance .
For this ability to keep in suspension solid elements that are not soluble in liquids, xanthan gum is widely used in industrialized beverages, because it is also compatible with the rest of the ingredients.
Low fat products
An incredible use of xanthan or xanthan gum, is that low-calorie foods are applied to replace the pleasant sensation produced by fatty foods.
In light coconut milk this gum is added to compensate for the lack of fat , and this causes the sensation when taking it is similar to that of coconut milk with fat.
The gum improves the fluidity and adhesion of syrups to fruits the ice cream or pancakes, so control runoff and penetration .
Pharmaceutical and cosmetic applications
Xanthan gum is used as a thickener in syrups or as a stabilizer in emulsions for the pharmaceutical industry. For cosmetics it is useful for the stability that it provides at pH temperature, salts and acids, as well as changes in forces such as agitation, so in cleansing products, creams and masks is widely used.
Recommendations for home uses of Xanthan gum
Side effects are minimal. However, it could cause gas and abdominal distension for people with high stomach sensitivity. Further, it does not contain fats or proteins; It is mainly composed of dietary fiber , so it can be useful also for athletes or people who want to take care of their figure.
Some recommendations for home use in breads are to take care of the amounts that are added, because if used little, the bread can be brittle and hard, and if you use too much the bread will look shrunk when removed from the oven and will continue to reduce its size still days later.
It is also necessary to take into account what type of liquid flours, flavors and other ingredients are added, since each one alters or potentiates the properties of xanthan gum.
Xanthan gum is not toxic and The United States FDA approved it as a food additive in 1969 without any restriction or quantity limit.
- Barrére, G.C., Barber, C.E. and Daniels, M.J. (1986) Intl. J. Biological Macromolecules, 8 (6): pp. 372-374.