Gellan gum is a water-soluble polysaccharide produced by a bacterium called Sphingomanas elodea, which is native to North America and found on most continents. Gellan gum is used in the food industry as a gelling agent because it can withstand high heat. Only ½ the amount of Gellan gum is needed to get the same effect as other gelling substances, such as agar.
Gellan gum is widely used in soy milks to keep the soy product suspended in the milk. It is favored as a strength agent in many beverages. In chocolate milk, gellan gum is used to equally distribute the chocolate throughout the liquid. Gellan gum does not produce an aftertaste. It was discovered in the late 1970s, and is used in small doses in food products.
Other Use and Industries
Gellan gum is often used in the cosmetic and hygiene industries in products like masks, creams, and lotions. It is also found in shampoos, conditioners, and sunscreens. Pharmaceutical companies use gellan gum to make pills easier to swallow.
Gellan gum has zero calories and has been used in diet drinks as a stabilizer. Because it is calorie-free, it has been shown to help beat obesity in certain cases where options would be to consume a high-calorie meal. Diet shakes and meal replacements containing gellan gum are often effective in curbing hunger and can replace large portions of food that would otherwise be consumed. High intake of products containing gellan gum has been reported to have a laxative effect due to the fermentation process.
Gellan gum is obtained through fermentation of an algae, Sphingomanas elodea, which lives on an aquatic plant. The resulting gummy substance is packaged to be sold for inclusion in processed foods, cosmetics, and health supplements.