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Gum arabic

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**Definition and Production**:
Gum arabic is defined as the dried exudate from Acacia senegal and Vachellia seyal trees.
– A 2017 EFSA re-evaluation mentioned that gum arabic may not always come from Acacia species.
– It is used in various industries such as food, soft drinks, lithography, printing, paints, glues, and cosmetics.
– Acts as a stabilizer with the E number E414.
– Mainly harvested in Sudan and the Sahel region.
Gum arabic has been harvested in Arabia and West Asia since ancient times.
– Sub-Saharan acacia gum has a long history as a prized export.
– The main gum-producing Acacia species are found in various African nations.
– Gum is tapped by stripping bark to allow gum exudation.
– Acacia gum remains a significant export for African countries.
– The trade in gum arabic dates back to Prince Henry the Navigator’s trading post in 1445.

**Health Benefits and Medical Use**:
Gum arabic is a rich source of dietary fibers.
– Acts as a prebiotic enhancing beneficial intestinal microbiota.
– Used in food, pharmaceuticals, wine making, cosmetics, and art.
– Important ingredient in various products like gumdrops, M&Ms, and shoe polish.
– Used as a binder, emulsifier, and viscosity-increasing agent.
– Studies have shown health benefits such as lowering hyperlipidemia and affecting the histology of the intestine and enzymes.
– Considered a prebiotic dietary fiber with positive health effects.
– Studied for its accelerating effect on calcium absorption and lowering effect on caloric value.

**Industrial and Commercial Use**:
Gum arabic is used as an invisible ingredient in soft drink supply chains.
– Key ingredient in products like Coca-Cola, chocolate, and red wine.
– The gum arabic industry has faced uncertainties and threats due to conflicts in Sudan.
– Sudanese sanctions have impacted global supplies of gum arabic.
– Trade and market dynamics have been affected by political crises.

**Applications in Culinary and Artistic Fields**:
– Used in culinary applications as a stabilizer, emulsifying agent, and thickening agent.
– Recognized as safe for human consumption and used in soft candy, chewing gum, icing, fillings, and cocktails.
– Utilized in pastry, baking, ceramic glazes, and printing processes.
– Used in gum bichromate prints for artistic purposes.
– Its versatility is showcased through various culinary and artistic applications.

**Biological Effects and Research**:
– Recent research has highlighted the biological effects of gum arabic.
– Studied for impact on wine astringency, colloidal stability, and metabolism.
– Explored for molecular species, properties, and absorption of medications.
– Effects on the absorption of medications have been investigated.
– Research has shown the effects of gum arabic on wine astringency and metabolism.

Gum arabic (Wikipedia)

Gum arabic (gum acacia, gum sudani, Senegal gum and by other names) is a natural gum originally consisting of the hardened sap of two species of the Acacia tree, Senegalia senegal and Vachellia seyal. However, the term "gum arabic" does not actually indicate a particular botanical source. The gum is harvested commercially from wild trees, mostly in Sudan (about 70% of the global supply) and throughout the Sahel, from Senegal to Somalia. The name "gum Arabic" (al-samgh al-'arabi) was used in the Middle East at least as early as the 9th century. Gum arabic first found its way to Europe via Arabic ports, and so retained its name.

Acacia gum, pieces and powder
Acacia senegal, pictured in the medicinal handbook Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen (1887) by Franz Eugen Köhler

Gum arabic is a complex mixture of glycoproteins and polysaccharides, predominantly polymers of arabinose and galactose. It is soluble in water, edible, and used primarily in the food industry and soft-drink industry as a stabilizer, with E number E414 (I414 in the US). Gum arabic is a key ingredient in traditional lithography and is used in printing, paints, glues, cosmetics, and various industrial applications, including viscosity control in inks and in textile industries, though less expensive materials compete with it for many of these roles.[citation needed]

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