Review on gums of industrial value
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There is an increasing trend towards the use of available plant resources for food and technological applications. One class of ingredients often exploited for their texturizing capabilities are the plant polysaccharides called the hydrocolloids or gums. These compounds are long chain polymers which dissolve in water to give a thickening or viscosity-building effect. Some of these plant polysaccharides have found applications in the food, pharmaceutical, textile, mining and other industries. The United States Food and Drug Administration regulates gums, classifying these compounds as food additives. Though required at usage levels of less than two percent to achieve the desired properties in food systems, gums have become a big business. In 1991 the market of gums reached 126 metric tons at a worth of $748.7 million. There is an increased awareness of the nutritional importance of polysaccharides. The demand for water-soluble polysaccharide gums including the seaweed extracts, seed gums, plant exudates and cellulose derivatives, has slowly increased over the past few years along with population growth and the advent of easy to prepare foods. Effective use of gums requires that their chemical and physical properties be understood as much as possible. This article gives a review of some of the polysaccharide gums of industrial value.