Guar Gum: An Ingredient for Lower Cholesterol?

Guar gum
Yogesh More; istockphoto.

Guar gum is a type of soluble fiber that is extracted from the beans of the guar bean plant (Cyampsis tetragonoloba), which is primarily found in India and parts of the Middle East. Guar gum has a lot of commercial uses and is available in a powder or supplement form.

In powdered form, guar gum is added to some foods to make their consistency thicker. It is also used in some cosmetic products and medications.

It is also frequently added to gluten-free, baked goods as a replacement for products containing gluten.

As a supplement, guar gum is primarily used to promote gastrointestinal health and can also be found in some types of bulk-forming laxatives. The effectiveness of guar gum has also been investigated in a lot of different medical conditions, including diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure.

High cholesterol is another condition where guar gum has been examined—but does it work?

Lowering Cholesterol With Guar Gum

There have been quite a few studies that have been conducted looking at guar gum’s effect on cholesterol and triglyceride levels—and the results from these studies appear promising.

Healthy people and individuals with diabetes took anywhere between 15 grams and 30 grams of guar gum daily in divided doses for 3 to 24 months. Although there were some studies that did not see a change in lipid levels, there were other studies where people taking a guar gum supplement saw a positive effect on certain parts of their lipid profile:

  • Total cholesterol levels were lowered by between 3 percent to 17 percent
  • LDL cholesterol levels were lowered by up to 26 percent
  • Triglycerides were also slightly lowered in some studies.

In these studies, HDL cholesterol was not greatly affected by taking guar gum, or it wasn’t tested.

It isn’t completely known how guar gum lowers your lipids.

Because it is a type of soluble fiber, it is thought to work in the small intestine by lowering the absorption of cholesterol into the bloodstream. One animal study suggested that guar gum may also increase the number of LDL receptors in the liver. By doing this, it can help to remove LDL cholesterol from circulation.

Should You Use Guar Gum to Lower Your Lipids?

Guar gum has a lot of evidence supporting its effectiveness in lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels—but more studies are needed before it can be recommended as part of your lipid-lowering regimen. Guar gum is available in the baking aisle of the grocery store due to its use in certain baked goods or as a supplement in the natural products section.

Before starting a guar gum supplement to lower your lipids, you should talk to your healthcare provider.

Guar gum can interact with some of the medications that you are taking, including fat-soluble vitamins, certain antibiotics, metformin, and potassium supplements. It could also aggravate certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or gastrointestinal disorders.

If you decide to take guar gum to help lower your lipids, you may experience side effects, including gas, abdominal bloating, and diarrhea, from taking the supplement. In studies, some people noticed side effects with doses as low as 15 grams daily. In some cases, guar gum was discontinued because the side effects became very bothersome. There have also been reports of people developing obstructions in their esophagus or intestines due to taking large amounts of guar gum. To lessen the side effects experienced, guar gum doses may divided throughout the day and taken with water.


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Rideout, T. C., Harding, S. V., Jones, P. J., and Fan, M. Z. Guar gum and similar soluble fibers in the regulation of cholesterol metabolism: current understandings and future research priorities. Vasc.Health Risk Manag. 2008;4:1023-1033.

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