What is guar gum?
I see it listed as an ingredient in a lot of foods and something about it sounds really artificial and unhealthy.
-- Vanessa (name withheld)
Kansas City, MO
There is actually nothing "sketchy" about guar gum.
It is the end result of grinding up the endosperm of the guar plant (pictured at left,) which grows exclusively in certain regions of India and Pakistan between July and December.
Guar gum serves a variety of food processing purposes, including thickening, emulsifying, and binding.
Some of its "greatest hits" include preventing ice crystals from forming in ice cream and mimicking the consistency and texture of gluten (wheat protein) in gluten-free products.
The reason why you see it pop up so often is because it is easy to manipulate and very low in cost -- a food manufacturer's dream!
There is absolutely nothing about it to fear, and no reason to seek "guar gum free" foods.