Yes! Guar gum is vegan, as it contains no animal derived ingredients.
But why am I seeing it in vegan foods like plant based milks? And is it healthy or not?
Keep reading to learn in this dietitian written article!
Disclaimer: This post is not providing personal medical or dietary advice. Always talk to your doctor before adding a supplement or making major dietary changes. See our Disclaimers for more details.
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I’m guessing you clicked on this post because you are at least remotely curious about vegan nutrition.
If that sounds like you, check out some helpful books that this vegan/dietitian has on her bookshelf below! (affiliate links*):
This post was originally published on 2/24/22. The updated date is listed above.
What Is Guar Gum?
Guar gum is type of fiber that is mainly composed of two polysaccharides (meaning many sugars): galactose and mannose. These sugars have the ability to react with water, forming a strong hydrogen bond, and producing a gum or gel like texture(1).
You may have observed this change in appearance when you combine the powder with a room temperature or cold liquid, and it becomes gel or gummy like -hence the name guar “gum!”
That’s what makes it particularly useful in the food industry, where it’s often added as stabilizer, binding agent and food additive. For example, guar gum in almond milk may help prevent the separation of the other ingredients-so you aren’t just taste almonds or water in each sip.
Here’s some examples of food items that may contain guar gum as an additive:
- Certain dairy products (for example, in ice creams as well as vegan ice cream too!)
- Plant based milks
- Baked goods, such as gluten free bread
- Salad dressings
As you may have noticed, some of these products may or may not be vegan. If that is important to you, check the ingredients list!
What is guar gum made of? Processed guar bean (also known as cluster beans) seeds! In other words, the “gum” is extracted from the seed of the guar bean. The domesticated species may have originated in India and Pakistan(2).
FYI: This article is only focusing on guar gum used in the food industry.
You may also be interested to know that it is has been used in the paper, pet food (yes, you may very well find guar gum in pet food too!) and other industries as well.
Is Guar Gum Vegan?
Yes! Guar gum is vegan because it does not contain any animal products. Vegan food must not have any animal derived ingredients, including meat, fish, dairy, eggs, or honey.
The only ingredient in guar gum is often just that: guar gum! As we established before. this is extracted from the seed of the bean – making it a plant based.
Why Is Guar Gum Important for Vegan Food?
As mentioned before, guar gum can be used as a stabilizer and binder in food.
It can also be used a thickener. This is important for vegans because another popular thickener: gelatin, is not vegan. That’s because it is comes from animal parts like bones and tendons (3).
But, there are many ways to get one thing done (in this case, add a thickening agent)!
These vegan friendly substitutes can sometimes replace gelatin depending on the recipe:
- Xanthan gum
- Cellulose gum
- Agar agar
- Gum Arabic
- Guar Gum
Is Guar Gum Bad For You?
First and foremost, if you are allergic to guar gum, avoid it!
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s further discus this topic aside from a food allergy.
In the United States, Guar gum as an additive is listed as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) in specific, set amounts for use in foods, such as fats and oils, jam, and breakfast cereal(4).
However, when used in high doses, such as in specific diet pills that contained guar gum, severe adverse events could occur, such as small bowel and esophageal obstruction and even death(5).
Do not use guar gum in large amounts and if you have any questions, talk to your doctor.
Benefits of Guar Gum
Guar gum may actually have beneficial health effects when used in small(not high) amounts! Much of the health benefits may lie in the fact that guar gum is fiber rich.
In particular, guar gum contains soluble fiber (as an FYI: many other foods do as well), which may have positive effects on cholesterol levels(6) and may have some benefits for gut health, improvement of constipation for certain people suffering from this condition(7).
Still, research is continues to develop in this area, and some individuals may experience gas when using guar gum (8). Talk to your doctor before using a guar gum supplement/powder.
Where can Can I Buy Guar Gum Powder?
If recipes call for guar gum powder, you might be wondering: where can I buy it?
It could be tricky. but not impossible to find at your typical grocery store , (especially if organic guar gum is important to you)! You might have better luck finding it at a health food store or on Amazon (affiliate link*).
In Conclusion: Is Guar Gum Vegan?
Yes! Guar gum is derived from a plant, and does not involve animal products, making it vegan.
It can be found as as stabilizer or thickener in food products as an example. However, check the ingredients to make sure they are vegan!
While guar gum may have some health benefits in small amounts, research is still ongoing, and guar gum should not be taken in high amounts as this could have severe health consequences. Talk to your doctor before taking guar gum.
We hope this post was informative! Let us know what you think in the comments below.
If you were interested in this topic, why not explore the vegan nutrition library? I cover other great “Is It Vegan” questions such as
Can a Vegan Eat Bread?
Is Oatmeal Vegan?
Is Chocolate Vegan (and is it cruelty free?)
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