If you’re a fan of almond milk, you may have noticed an unfamiliar ingredient on the label: gellan gum.
What is this mysterious substance, and why is it in your favorite dairy alternative? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
In this article, we’ll explore the origins and uses of gellan gum, as well as its potential effects on your health. Whether you’re a clean eating enthusiast or just curious about the science behind your food, read on to discover everything you need to know about gellan gum in almond milk.
What Is Gellan Gum In Almond Milk?
Gellan gum is a type of emulsifier that is commonly added to almond milk and other dairy alternatives. It helps to create a smooth texture and prevent separation of the liquid and solids in the product. Gellan gum is also used in other foods such as yogurt, ice cream, sorbets, and jams.
The substance is one of several types of gums that are used to thicken and emulsify foods. Other gums include xanthan gum and guar gum. Food manufacturers choose a specific type of gum based on what they are thickening and the desired consistency of the final product.
Gellan gum is made from bacteria that were discovered growing in a pond in Pennsylvania over forty years ago. Scientists found that the bacteria produced a jelly-like substance that could be used as a gelling agent, similar to agar. However, gellan gum’s properties make it ideal for use as a thickener, suspension agent, and stabilizer in many popular food and beverage products.
After the fermentation process, gellan gum is dried and milled into a powder so it can be easily mixed into recipes. It can be used alone or in combination with other ingredients to help manufacturers create a variety of textures.
What Is Gellan Gum?
Gellan gum is a natural food additive that is commonly used in processed foods to bind, stabilize, or texturize them. It is similar to other gelling agents such as guar gum, carrageenan, agar agar, and xanthan gum. Gellan gum can be found naturally on water lilies, but it is also produced commercially through bacterial fermentation.
There are two forms of gellan gum: high acyl (HA) and low acyl (LA). Both forms are used in the food industry to create a range of textures and consistencies. When hot solutions are cooled in the presence of gel-promoting cations, gellan gum forms gels at low concentrations. It has a higher melting point than gelatin and agar but a lower melting point than xanthan gum.
Gellan gum is an effective replacement for other gelling agents because it is effective in very small amounts and produces a clear gel that isn’t sensitive to heat. Additionally, it works as a plant-based alternative to gelatin, which is derived from animal skin, cartilage, or bone.
Gellan gum has multiple uses in food and beverages, including stabilization, suspension, and thickening/texturizing. It can improve the texture of foods and make them last longer on the shelf. Gellan gum is also used in medicine for delayed-release medications, regenerative medicine, and dentistry. In recent years, gellan gum has also found applications in the field of historical conservation as a component in the delicate process of cleaning and preserving paper products.
In almond milk and other dairy alternatives, gellan gum is added to create a smooth texture and prevent separation of the liquid and solids in the product. It is safe to eat and generally only present in small amounts. However, if you have concerns about consuming gellan gum, you can opt to make your own almond milk at home without using any additives.
How Is Gellan Gum Made?
Gellan gum is made through a fermentation process using a specific strain of bacteria. The bacteria are grown in a nutrient-rich environment, typically a mixture of glucose and other carbohydrates. As the bacteria consume the nutrients, they produce a jelly-like substance that can be harvested and processed into gellan gum.
Once the fermentation process is complete, the gellan gum is separated from the bacterial cells and purified. It is then dried and milled into a fine powder, which can be easily added to food and beverage products.
One of the benefits of gellan gum is that it can be produced using sustainable and environmentally friendly methods. The bacteria used to make gellan gum are non-toxic and do not harm the environment. Additionally, gellan gum is a vegan-friendly alternative to animal-based gelling agents like gelatin.
Is Gellan Gum Safe To Consume?
The safety of gellan gum has been a topic of discussion among consumers and health experts. While some studies have linked chronic intake of high doses of gellan gum to abnormalities in gut lining, other studies have found no harmful effects. The Code of Federal Regulations has specified the criteria for gellan gum to be safe in food, outlining the exact molecular structure, the bacteria to be used for fermentation, and more. These regulations ensure that the gellan gum used in products is held to a high standard.
According to the FDA and other international organizations, gellan gum is considered safe for human consumption. However, some people may experience digestive issues such as abdominal bloating, excessive gas/flatulence, and loose stools/diarrhea when consuming high doses of gellan gum. It’s important to note that gellan gum is often used in processed foods, so it’s always best to consume these foods in moderation.
If you are concerned about the health implications of consuming gellan gum, it’s recommended to talk to your doctor or a registered dietitian. While gellan gum has been extensively tested and deemed safe for use in foods, it’s always important to be informed and make choices that are best for your individual health needs.
Potential Health Benefits Of Gellan Gum.
In addition to its use as a food additive, gellan gum has several potential health benefits. It has been used in medical and pharmaceutical applications, such as tissue regeneration, allergy relief, dental care, bone repair, and drug manufacturing. Gellan gum has also been found to have prebiotic properties, which means it can help promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut.
Furthermore, gellan gum is considered safe for human consumption and has been shown to have minimal side effects. However, some people with digestive issues may experience slowed digestion after consuming gellan gum. As with any food additive, it is important to consume gellan gum in moderation and be aware of any potential adverse reactions.
Conclusion: Should You Be Concerned About Gellan Gum In Almond Milk?
Although some people may be concerned about the safety of gellan gum, the European Food Safety Authority has evaluated its safety and found that it is unlikely to cause harm when used in small amounts. Gellan gum is considered safe to eat and is present in almond milk and other dairy alternatives in very small amounts. However, if you are still concerned about consuming gellan gum, you can choose to make your own almond milk at home without any added thickeners or emulsifiers.
It is important to note that gellan gum is just one of several types of gums that are commonly used in food products. Other gums such as xanthan gum and guar gum are also used in almond milk and other dairy alternatives. While these gums are generally considered safe, it is best to avoid consuming large amounts of them or any highly processed foods in general.