Guar gum - science builds for health benefits

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Guar gum, Atherosclerosis, Nutrition, Cholesterol

Guar gum, extensively used as an emulsifier, thickener and
stabiliser, may also have potential as a health ingredient for
lowering cholesterol levels, suggests new research.

A growing number of studies are looking at the potential of this gum, and other hydrocolloids, as health ingredients. However, hydrocolloids are currently used in foods at levels is well below that needed to exert a physiological effect, with the exception of gum arabic in Slim Fast. The new study, published in the journal LWT - Food Science and Technology​, looked at the effect of the gum on cholesterol levels in rats fed chapaties with high guar gum levels. LDL-cholesterol, so-called 'bad' cholesterol, fell by about 30 per cent, said the researchers. "Ingestion of five chapaties per day prepared from preferred compositions of composite flours provides an extra five to eight grams of dietary fibre that would be encouraging to control the serum lipid profile of hypercholesterolemic individuals,"​ wrote lead author Naureen Shahzadi from University of Agriculture Faisalabad in Pakistan. High cholesterol levels, hypercholesterolaemia, have a long association with many diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease (CVD), the cause of almost 50 per cent of deaths in Europe, and reported to cost the EU economy an estimated €169bn ($202bn) per year. The researchers prepared "chapaties" - a staple diet of the South Asia - using commercial wheat flour blended with guar gum, chickpea, and lentil in various combinations. The greatest increase in the fibre content (35.3 per cent) of the flour was obtained when guar gum was added at the three per cent level. Shahzadi and co-workers then fed male Sprague Dawley rats the chapaties for eight weeks and measured blood cholesterol levels. "Lowest serum cholesterol (82.46 mg/dl) was observed in rats fed on guar gum 3g/100 g which showed a significant reduction (17.2 per cent) as compared to control,"​ wrote the authors. "Similarly, in case of LDL and triglycerides, guar gum 3 g/100 g showed highest decline i.e., 29.7 and 28.4 per cent with reference to control, respectively.""Diet management is an effective mean to control the serum lipid profile especially for those people having high cholesterol with special reference to LDL,"​ they concluded. "The adding up of guar gum and chickpea elevates the dietary fibre contents and certainly helpful to lower the cholesterol nevertheless community based research trials will be conducted for its enhanced meticulousness."​ Guar gum, a water-soluble dietary fibre, is obtained from the seeds of the guar plant found on the Indian sub-continent and the US. Because of its high viscosity, the gum can be hydrolysed so that it can be used in quantities that infer a physiological effect, and is widely used in this form in beverages. Source: LWT - Food Science and Technology​ (Elsevier) Volume 40, Issue 7, Pages 1198-1205 "Effect of guar gum on the serum lipid profile of Sprague Dawley rats" ​Authors: N. Shahzadi, M.S. Butt, M.K. Sharif, and M. Nasir

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