Locust bean gum, a natural food additive derived from the seeds of the carob tree, is an ingredient in a range of products, such as ice cream, yogurt and cream cheese. The gum, also called locust bean gum, acts as a stabilizing and thickening agent. It also offers a sweet, slightly chocolatey taste. It is also used in inedible items, such as cosmetics, shoe polish, insecticides and other products that require a thickener, including textiles and paper.
Although known for its clotting properties, locust bean gum also offers health benefits, such as relieving digestive symptoms and improving blood sugar control. However, the typical portion size is so small that it doesn’t have much of an impact on health.
Locust Bean Gum Nutrition Facts
The following nutritional information is provided by the USDA for 1 gram of locust bean gum (source).
- calories: 3
- Fat: 0g
- Sodium: 1mg
- Carbohydrates: 0.8g
- Fiber: 0.8g
- sugars: 0g
- Egg white: 0g
Carbohydrates in Locust Bean Gum
One gram of locust bean gum contains less than 1 gram of carbohydrates, making it a very low-carb ingredient, but it’s often found in carbohydrate-rich foods such as pie fillings and ice cream.
fats in Locust bean gum
Locust bean gum contains a trace amount of fat. However, foods that use this additive often contain a significant amount of fat. No more than 5% to 6% of your total daily calorie intake should be, according to the recommendation of the American Heart Association.
Proteins in Locust bean gum
Locust bean gum contains a negligible amount of protein.
Vitamins and minerals
There are not many micronutrients in locust bean gum. It does contain a small amount of calcium (about 3 mg per gram).
Locust Bean Gum Health Benefits
As one of the most common additives in the world, chances are you regularly consume locust bean gum. While the amount typically found in our diets is very small, research shows that the chewing gum, in larger doses, can provide significant health benefits.
Locust bean gum contains pectin, the compound that causes the gum to form into a gel. Research shows that pectin helps treat diarrhea (source).
In a 2017 review of 14 research trials involving 1,927 participants, Locust bean juice (locust bean gum also comes from carob) was found to be an effective alternative medicine for treating gastrointestinal disorders in children and adolescents. No serious side effects were reported, but researchers note that more evidence is needed to determine appropriate effective dosages (souce).
Helps Babies With Reflux
Locust bean gum and other thickeners are sometimes used in infant formulas to help reduce reflux symptoms. But it’s important to buy infant formula that contains locust bean gum as an ingredient, rather than trying to add your own locust bean gum to another formula you buy (source).
Can regulate blood sugar levels
Some research has shown that inositol, a sugar found in carob, may help regulate blood sugar levels. However, a larger dose than what is commonly consumed in the diet is likely to be required to achieve this effect (source).
Locust Bean Gum Allergies
Only a few cases of allergy to locust bean gum have been reported in the medical literature.If you suspect that you are allergic or sensitive to this food additive, talk to your doctor about how to handle it.
To diagnose a reaction to a food additive, you usually need an oral test with the suspected additive. This is done under the supervision of an allergist to avoid serious complications. If you are diagnosed, your doctor may suggest avoiding locust bean gum in your diet.
As a food additive, locust bean gum is “generally recognized as safeby the Food and Drug Administration.
Locust Bean Gum Varities
The carob bean is cloudy in color, ranging from pale white to pale yellow. When you buy locust bean gum, it is usually in powder form with a transparent coloring. This transparency works well when you incorporate the powder into your food, as it does not change the color of your dish.
Locust bean gum can be used alone, but is often combined with other thickening agents. Food technologists combine locust bean gum with xanthan gum and kappa carrageenan to form a gel and give foods certain desirable properties, such as an elastic texture or the ability to reduce the formation of crystals on frozen food products.
Locust bean gum Storage and food safety
Locust bean gum has a shelf life and can be stored in a cool, dry place for up to two years. It does not need to be refrigerated or frozen.
How to consume Locust Bean Gum
Despite containing an insect’s name in the name, locust bean gum is 100% plant-based and as such is suitable for those following a vegan diet. It is used in some vegan recipes to replace dairy or egg ingredients. Locust bean gum is also gluten-free.
As a thickener, you can use locust bean gum when making homemade ice cream, yogurt, pie and other foods. The gum needs to be heated to dissolve or it will leave a grainy or coarse texture. Some useful uses for locust bean gum in the home kitchen:
- Stabilize the fruit pie filling. Add bean gum to dough fillings to stabilize the fruit and prevent it from spilling over the pie crust, which will make the crust soggy and leave a mess in the oven.
- Decrystallize ice. Add locust bean gum to prevent ice crystals from forming in your homemade ice cream. It will slow down the formation of crystals and reduce the size of the crystals. This is especially useful if you don’t finish all the ice in a few days.
- Making vegan meringue. Locust bean gum can stabilize a protein meringue, or it can be combined with aquafaba (chickpea liquid) and other ingredients to make an egg-free meringue.
- Stabilize whipped cream. Brighten up your whipped cream by adding locust bean gum to heavy cream (or a non-dairy substitute) before whipping it.
- Improve the texture of cheese dip. Locust bean gum can make thick cheese dips more spreadable.
You may want to test how locust bean gum works in your dish before starting it, as it has a light flavor. But most of the time, the other ingredients in your dish can easily overpower the flavor of the chewing gum.