Gellan gum is a food additive that was discovered in the 1970s.

First used as a substitute for gelatin and agar agar, it’s currently found in a variety of processed foods, including jams, candy, meats, and fortified plant milks (1).

You may wonder whether it offers any benefits or is safe to consume.

This article examines gellan gum to determine whether it’s good or bad for you.

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Gellan gum is a food additive typically used to bind, stabilize, or texturize processed foods. It’s similar to other gelling agents, including guar gum, carrageenan, agar agar, and xanthan gum.

It grows naturally on water lilies but can be artificially produced by fermenting sugar with a specific strain of bacteria (2).

It’s a popular replacement for other gelling agents because it’s effective in very small amounts and produces a clear gel that isn’t sensitive to heat (3).

Gellan gum also works as a plant-based alternative to gelatin, which is derived from animal skin, cartilage, or bone.

Summary

Gellan gum is an additive used to bind, stabilize, or texturize foods. While naturally occurring, it’s also produced commercially via bacterial fermentation.

Gellan gum has a variety of uses.

As a gelling agent, it lends a creamy texture to desserts, gives fillings for baked goods a jelly-like consistency, and reduces the likelihood that certain delicacies — such as creme brûlée or flaming sorbet — will melt when subjected to heat.

Gellan gum is also commonly added to fortified juices and plant milks to help stabilize supplemental nutrients like calcium, keeping them mixed into the beverage rather than pooled at the bottom of the container.

This additive likewise has medical and pharmaceutical applications for tissue regeneration, allergy relief, dental care, bone repair, and drug manufacturing (4, 5).

Summary

Gellan gum has gelling, stabilizing, and texture-enhancing properties, as well as several pharmaceutical uses.

You can find gellan gum in a variety of foods, including (6):

  • Beverages: fortified plant-based milks and juices, chocolate milk, and some alcoholic drinks
  • Confectioneries: candy, marshmallows, fillings for baked goods, and chewing gum
  • Dairy: fermented milk, cream, yogurt, processed cheese, and some unripened cheeses
  • Fruit and vegetable products: fruit purées, marmalades, jams, jellies, and some dried fruit and vegetables
  • Packaged foods: breakfast cereals, as well as some noodles, potato gnocchi, bread, rolls, and gluten-free or low-protein pastas
  • Sauces and spreads: salad dressings, ketchup, mustard, gravies, custards, and some sandwich spreads
  • Other foods: some processed meats, fish roe, soups, broths, condiments, powdered sugar, and syrups

Gellan gum is particularly popular in vegan packaged foods because it’s a plant-based alternative to gelatin.

You’ll find it listed on food labels as gellan gum or E418. It’s also sold separately under brand names like Gelrite or Kelcogel (5, 6).

Summary

Gellan gum is added to various beverages, confectioneries, sauces, spreads, packaged foods, and dairy products. It’s also a popular substitute for gelatin in vegan products.

While gellan gum is said to offer several health benefits, few of these are backed by strong evidence.

For instance, some evidence suggests that gellan gum relieves constipation by adding bulk to stool and helping foods move smoothly through your gut (6, 7, 8).

That said, these studies are very small and outdated. What’s more, results were mixed, indicating that any digestive benefits may vary by individual (9).

Furthermore, certain gums have been linked to weight loss, appetite control, and lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels, leading some people to assert that gellan gum also provides these benefits (10, 11, 12, 13, 14).

However, very few studies have examined whether gellan gum has these attributes specifically — and those that do fail to report any significant effects (6, 8, 9).

Thus, more research is necessary.

Summary

Few studies have tested gellan gum’s benefits, though it may reduce your likelihood of constipation. While some people claim that it promotes weight loss and reduces appetite, blood sugar, and cholesterol, further research is needed.

Gellan gum is widely considered safe (6).

While one animal study linked chronic intake of high doses of gellan gum to abnormalities in gut lining, other studies have found no harmful effects (6, 15).

Moreover, in a 3-week study, people ate close to 30 times more gellan gum per day than typically found in a normal diet without experiencing any adverse effects (16).

That said, because this product may slow digestion in some people, you may wish to limit your intake (16).

Summary

Gellan gum is considered a safe food additive, though it may slow your digestion.

Gellan gum is an additive found in a variety of processed foods.

Although it may fight constipation in some people, most of its alleged benefits are not supported by science.

That said, it’s widely considered safe. Because it’s typically used in small amounts, it’s unlikely to cause problems.