Food additives have become a necessity of all
types of food products and food industry. Right from the aroma of the
beverage, the texture of the food and its visual appeal, has to be
enriched to make it acceptable.
Thickeners and Vegetable Gums
The thickeners are modified food starch or certain
vegetable gums. When these thickeners are added to the beverage, they absorb
the fluid and the fluid thickens. Breaking down the starches reverses the
thickening action and almost all water in the beverage is available as free
fluid for absorption by the body. If the thickening agent is vegetable gum,
it will continue to hold water even during digestion. Thus a vegetable based
thickening agent may reduce fluid availability to the body. Commonly used
thickening agents are pectin, agar-agar, lignin, algin, and gums.
All gums are polysaccharides, that is similar to sugars but with many sugar
units making up a large molecule. They are bland in taste, odour less and
tasteless. They may have a nutritional quality besides the primary function
but they certainly help in digestion and may be used as laxatives.
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