Acacia Gum is often referred to as Gum Arabic in research. It’s the compound that is produced from the sap of the Acacia tree—a native plant of India. It’s used as a dietary supplement as a source of soluble fermented dietary fiber.
Fiber is quickly being recognized by nutritional scientists as essential to long-term quality of life. Research has shown that a higher intake of dietary fiber equates to a longer and healthier life with a lower risk for nearly every major disease! That’s a bold claim.
I’ve read several studies that report Acacia Gum isn’t able to provide the same benefits to cholesterol, blood sugar, and metabolism as other fibers like psyllium (R)(R).
I’ve also seen several studies that show Acacia Gum is capable of lowering LDL cholesterol, lowering triglyceride counts, and lowering cholesterol (R). The support for Acacia Gum isn’t anywhere near as strong as other fibers like psyllium.
Research suggests that some fibers, such as Acacia Gum, may bind to bile salts and ultimately reduce the number of fats that are digested. That would explain the cholesterol-lowering role (R), but that’s just one theory.
Acacia Gum Benefits
The benefits of dietary fiber are largely dependent on a particular fiber’s ability to form a viscous gel. These types of fibers are soluble and non-fermenting which allows them to positively influence blood sugar and cholesterol.
Even those that aren’t able to benefit from fiber’s benefit to cholesterol and glycemic control can still offer benefits associated with gut health. One example is that fiber helps good bacteria to grow in the gut. These types of probiotic bacteria also have many direct and indirect benefits to health.
Acacia Gum might not get the cholesterol-lowering glory that psyllium does but it’s still worth considering. Research has shown that Acacia Gum increases amounts of beneficial gut bacteria such as Lactobacillus and bifidobacterium (R)(R).
Gum Acacia has also been shown to help produce other beneficial compounds such as antioxidants and short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) (R)(R)(R). These compounds are generally regarded as being the bomb for health. Anything that helps increase their production is worth a look in my opinion—including Acacia Gum.
Gum Acacia vs. Psyllium
There are mixed results from studies comparing the benefits of psyllium and acacia gum. In most cases, it seems that acacia gum is fermented and therefore loses its ability to match up to psyllium. These studies aren’t plentiful and methods of comparison aren’t exactly agreed upon between studies (R).
Psyllium has been shown in research to ferment, thereby not providing many benefits such as lower cholesterol or better glycemic control. On the other hand, there are also studies showing quite the opposite. Studies that show psyllium to be highly-fermenting also tend to grind or blend the compound prior to testing. That could explain the difference in outcomes.
Regardless of outcome, there is much more research to describe psyllium’s role as a dietary fiber supplement. Most of what I’ve read supports the conclusion that it is one of the best options for soluble, non-fermenting dietary fiber. If I had to choose between an acacia gum or psyllium fiber supplement—I’d choose psyllium every time. Regardless of what fiber you buy from, make sure to buy from a trusted supplement brand!