7 Uses of Gum Arabic and its Benefits for Industries
Gum Arabic is a product that has many advantages and uses in various industries.
Further, we analyse in more detail what is Gum Arabic, how it is processed and most importantly - what are the uses and properties of this product.
Gum Arabic (Gum Acacia) is a natural raw material from plant origin. It is obtained from the exudate of acacia species naturally growing in the ‘’Gum
Belt’’ region that stretches across the continent from Guinea to Somalia and south of Sahara Desert but the main supply countries are Sudan, Chad, Nigeria.
Gum Acacia is a natural hydrocolloid with polyvalent properties for a wide range of industrial applications. It is used as a film-building agent or surface-protective colloid, it also has outstanding binding, emulsifying, and stabilizing properties. Furthermore, it is a natural food-grade adhesive as well as an encapsulating agent. E number is E 141.
Types of Gum Arabic:
Acacia Senegal - Grade 1 (Hashab)
Acacia Seyal - Grade 2 (Talha)
CHEMICAL STRUCTURE OF GUM ARABIC
Chemically Gum Arabic consists mainly of high molecular weight polysaccharides and their calcium, magnesium, and potassium salts. On hydrolysis these yield galactose, arabinose, rhamnose and glucuronic acid. Also Gum Arabic consists of a small amount of protein (~0.8% with A. seyal & ~2.0% with A. Senegal gums) associated with the gum structure.
Gum Arabic has been fractionated by hydrophobic chromatography into three principal fractions: Arabinogalactan (AG), Arabinogalactan-protein (AGP) and glycoprotein (GP).
4 STAGES OF HARVESTING AND PROCESSING
Acacia Senegal/tress are tapped after Autumn (October/November) when the tree starts to lose its leaves. Acacia Seyal trees normally exude the gum naturally (Gummosis).
The gum is produced when the tree is subjected to heat or tapping (wounding). It exudes in nodule forms up to 60 mm in diameter. The gum nodules then dry in the sun, forming exudates of Acacia Senegal (transparent to amber colour, hard and glass-like lumps) and Acacia Seyal (amber to brown colour, fragile gum fragments).
The first collection of the exuded gum starts after 4-6 weeks from tapping, followed by 3-5 collections every 2 weeks.
After collection of the gum, the gum is now spread evenly to dry for a few days.
4. Cleaning and Processing
The cleaning process can be Manual, Mechanical and Spray Drying.
Manual Cleaning - Basic cleaning and bark removal are carried out at the source. The gum that is exported from Africa contains a varying proportion of bark and other extraneous material.
Mechanical Process - Physical processing to clean, grade and generate a range of different particle sizes from the original lump gum.
Spray Drying Process -The spray drying process allows the gum to be efficiently purified to give a consistent product. This can then be used directly in applications by customers without recourse to further cleaning, either chemical, physical, or microbiological.
GUM ARABIC FUNCTIONAL PROPERTIES
Gum Arabic has many properties that make it unique. These are the main 6 properties:
Gum Arabic is unique among natural hydrocolloids in that it is highly soluble in hot and cold water. Most gums cannot be dissolved in water at a concentration higher than 5%, but Gum Arabic can yield solutions up to 50% concentration.
The ability of Gum Arabic to form these concentrated solutions without excessive increase in viscosity is due to the high degree of branching within the gum structure.
Gum Arabic is insoluble in oils and in most organic solvents.
2. Emulsifying Properties
Gum from Acacia Senegal is a very effective emulsifying and stabilising agent and has found widespread use in the preparation of varied oil-in-water emulsions.
Effect of Heat on the emulsion capacity of Gum Arabic - Prolonged heating causes the thermal destruction of Gum Arabic. It results in the denaturation and precipitation of proteins from the high molecular weight AGP and GP complexes.
Most gums form highly viscous solutions at low concentration (1-5%). However, at such relatively low concentrations of Gum Arabic yields solutions, which are essentially Newtonian in behaviour and have very low viscosities compared to other polysaccharides of similar molecular mass.
Gum Arabic has a broad range of compatibilities and is compatible with most gums and starches and with most carbohydrates and proteins as well.
5. Sensory Properties
The Gum Arabic is generally odourless, colourless and tasteless.
6. Nutritional Properties
Gum Arabic is a complex polysaccharide indigestible to both humans and animals but fermented in the colon to give short fatty acids (SFA), leading to a wide range of potential health benefits. It thus meets dietary fibre definitions.
The typical fibre content of Gum Arabic is more than 85% (AOAC method).
Due to the complex highly branched Gum Arabic molecule structure, the fermentation is very slow which reduce the bloating side effect.
Gum Arabic is a Prebiotic soluble fibre that feeds and stimulates the growth and activity if the beneficial bacteria (Probiotic) in the colon i.e. lactobacilli and Bifidogenic bacteria. Probiotic bacteria strengthen the immune system to combat allergies, stress, exposure to toxic substances and other diseases.
Feeding trials have indicated a complete fermentation of Gum Arabic by gut bacteria when it comprises to >10% of the diet.
Energy value of 1.7 Kcal/g was recommended by FDA to be used for the calculation of Gum Acacia energy contribution.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN APPLICATIONS FOR GUM ARABIC?
Gum Arabic enjoys a remarkable diversity of applications and this is mainly due to many of its desirable Physico-chemical properties as mentioned earlier. These are the main application forms:
Surface Finishing Agent
Soluble Fibre Source
1. SWEETS 🍬
Gum Arabic has been used in the confectionery industry for hundreds of years and still holds a unique position thanks to its physical properties and unobtrusive taste and odour.
The gum performs 4 important Functions:
To retard or prevent sugar crystallisation.
As a boundary film in glazing systems.
As a texture modifier.
To emulsify and keep fatty components evenly distributed
Caramels and Toffees
In confections that contain fat as caramel and toffee, Gum Arabic keeps the fat uniformly distributed throughout the products, preventing it from rising to the surface where it causes problems as an easily oxidised, greasy film.
Reduced Sugar and No-Sugar Confectionery
Reduced calorie (35% reduction) nougat candies have been made by incorporating up to 27% each of Gum Arabic and microcrystalline cellulose in the standard nought composition. Calorie reductions of over 50% have been achieved in a toffee by using high levels of Gum Arabic with microcrystalline cellulose.
Coated Products (dragees, chewing gum, chocolate centres, nut centres, coated almonds, chocolate coated peanuts and raisins) Chewing Gum, Dry Roasted peanuts, Spicy nuts and more.
2. BAKERY 🥐
Gum Acacia is used in the baking industry for its comparative water absorption & viscoelastic properties, high soluble fibre source. In addition to its favourable adhesive properties for use in glazes and toppings and imparts smoothness when used as an emulsion stabiliser.
Benefits of Adding Gum Arabic to Bread
Increases water absorption.
Increases the maximum dough height and bread volume.
Improved toasting characteristics.
Helped with gluten effect.
Adds soluble dietary fibre improved label claims.
Gluten-Free Bread 🍞
Gluten-free bread requires polymeric substances that mimic the viscoelastic properties of gluten in bread dough. Research studies have been successfully formulated Gluten-free bread by incorporated Gum Arabic, Carboxymethyl Cellulose (CMC)/Guar Gum and egg albumen into non-wheat flours.
Bread for Frozen Dough 🥯
Also, the research shows incorporating CMC and Gum Arabic into the bread frozen dough reduced the ice crystallization and improved the quality of the produced bread.
3. BEVERAGES 🥤
Gum Arabic is widely used in beverages. It is a hardly replaceable ingredient as it is well compatible with beverages used in a process-formulating and as a functional ingredient.
Liquid Flavour Emulsions
Gum Arabic is widely used to prepare and stabilise essential oil emulsions (orange, lemon. Lime, cherry and cola), which are supplied to the soft drinks industry.
Spray Dried Flavour Encapsulation
Gum Arabic is universally recognised as an excellent encapsulation material for flavours because of its emulsification properties, low viscosity, bland flavour and for its protective action against flavour oxidation during processing and storage.
Gum Arabic is a convenient way to add soluble fibre source for the fibre enriched nutritional drinks.
The FDA Daily Recommended Value (DRV) for fibre is 25 grams, wish formulation requirements based on serving sizes. Products labelled ‘Good Source’ or ‘Fibre Fortified’ must contain 2.5g (10% of DRV per serving, while products to be labelled ‘’High Fibre’’ must contain 5g (20% of DRV) per serving.
4. FOOD APPLICATIONS 🍝
Gum Arabic is used as a base for the preparation of spray-dried colour oleoresins such as annatto, paprika and turmeric. It can also be sued to prepare and stabilise liquid colour emulsions.
The use of Gum Arabic affords all the benefits associated with soluble fibre without the adverse effects on the organoleptic properties of the foods.
Fruit Postharvest 🥭
Research shows the use of 10% Gum Arabic solution increased and enhanced the shelf life of Mango, Tomato and Green Pepper by more than 20 days. Source
5. PHARMACEUTICAL 🥼
Gum Arabic has been used successfully in a variety of pharmaceutical products because of its following functional properties:
As a binder and as a glaze for pharmaceutical tablets.
In syrups used for their soothing and protective Action and a suspending agent.
As an emulsifying agent.
As one of the main ingredients of medicated couch drops and lozenges.
Protective Coatings 💊
For the encapsulation of oil-soluble vitamins. Vitamin A stabilised by spray-drying it in an emulsion containing antioxidant, fat, lactose, and Gum Arabic to give an encapsulated powder retaining 85% of its vitamin activity after 12 months storage at room temperature. Gum Arabic helps to protect unstable oils and flavours from the development of rancidity and off testes
Gum Arabic used in lotions, protective creams, mascara, Moisturiser and Anti-aging, functioning as a stabiliser, increases viscosity, imparts spreading, properties, gives a protecting coating and gives a smooth feel.
6. INDUSTRIAL 🏭
Gum Arabic has been used in a variety of different types of inks because of its protective colloid properties, emulsifier and suspending agent.
The Gum Arabic functions here are:
Sensitizer for lithographic plate
Elements in light-sensitive composition
Used in fountain solution to moisten plates
Protection of plate during storage
Water Colours 🎨
Gum Arabic is traditionally used in watercolours as a binder because is highly soluble water, low in viscosity and when it dries, forms a thin layer that binds pigments to the paper surface.
Gum Arabic increases the watercolour brilliancy gloss, transparency and give colours greater depth.
7. MISCELLANEOUS 👑
Gum Arabic used:
As suspending and plasticiser agent for Ceramics and liquid cement mixes.
Mixed with fireclay to seal the base of the containment tube in Fireworks/Pyrotechnics.
In flotation in phosphate mining/ refinement.
In insecticide sprays.
These are the main 6 properties and 7 uses of Gum Arabic.
If you are interested to know where you can buy Gum Arabic on a large scale for your business and manufacturing - contact us and we will help you with finding the best solution.
We deliver the best raw agro materials, measured against the toughest standards in the industry. We have cultivated personal relationships with carefully selected international and domestic growers in order to ensure the efficiency, reliability and consistent results that our customers need. We monitor closely all the procedures from tree to the final product, keeping in mind our customer requirements as well as all the necessary details right from the countries of origin that give our products the competitive edge.
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