Guar gum comes from the seeds of the guar plant and can be useful for cooking as well as for your health. You can find guar gum as a powder in the baking or health aisle or in tablet form as a supplement. The powdered form of guar gum can be used in baking or to thicken and hold together gravies, sauces and dairy products. Whether you choose to use it in cooking or take it as a supplement, guar gum can help you lower your cholesterol, manage your blood sugar and improve digestive health.
Lower Your Cholesterol
One of the best things guar gum can do for you is lower your cholesterol. A study in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" reports a 16 percent decrease in total cholesterol and 25 percent decrease in LDL cholesterol after four weeks of guar gum supplementation. A study in "Lipids" found guar gum more effective at lowering cholesterol than steroid sequestrants, a substance commonly used in cholesterol-lowering medication. This cholesterol-lowering effect is all thanks to the large amount of soluble fiber in guar gum, which binds cholesterol so that less of it is available for absorption.
Manage Your Blood Sugar
Whether you have diabetes or just want to keep your blood sugar in check, guar gum can be just what you need. The soluble fiber in guar gum slows the emptying of food from your stomach, which means a more gradual rise in blood sugar and insulin levels. A study published in "Diabetic Medicine" tested blood sugar levels after consumption of white flour, wheat bran and guar gum. The results showed wheat bran and guar gum produced significantly lower blood sugar levels than white flour. Another study in "Digestive Diseases and Sciences" also reported lower blood sugar and insulin levels with guar gum.
Improved Digestive Health
If you are suffering from diarrhea, soluble fiber can help by slowing digestion and solidifying stool. The soluble fiber in guar gum was found to be effective for treating diarrhea, particularly if it is caused by having too much artificial sweetener, in a study published in "The European Journal of Clinical Nutrition." In the study, diarrhea caused by the sweeteners maltitol and lactitol was suppressed by adding guar gum to the diet. A study published in "Nutrition" also reports decreased symptoms and pain in people with irritable bowel syndrome with the consumption of guar gum.
How to Take Guar Gum
If you choose to use guar gum as a thickener in foods, gradually add small amounts until you reach the right consistency. Guar gum is a more powerful thickener than corn starch so you will need to add much less. If you choose to take guar gum as a supplement, ask your doctor for the correct dosage as dosages differ depending on the condition being treated.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21
- Lipids: The Cholesterol-Lowering Effect of Guar Gum in Rats is not Accompanied by an Interruption of Bile Acid Cycling.
- Diabetic Medicine -- A Journal of the British Diabetic Association: Diabetic Control is Improved by Guar Gum and Wheat Bran Supplementation.
- Digestive Diseases and Sciences: Guar Attenuates Fall in Postprandial Blood Pressure and Slows Gastric Emptying of Oral Glucose in Type 2 Diabetes.
- European Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Suppressive Effect of Partially Hydrolyzed Guar Gum on Transitory Diarrhea Induced by Ingestion of Maltitol and Lactitol in Healthy Humans.
- Nutrition: Role of Partially Hydrolyzed Guar Gum in the Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
- Haverford College: Exploring Properties of Polymers
- Drugs.com: Guar Gum
Khadejah Makkieh is a registered dietitian with a passion for writing, teaching and cooking. She earned a Master of Science in nutrition from Texas Woman's University and is currently working as a college instructor. Makkieh's writing has also been featured in the FASEB science journal.