Hydrocolloids in Food Industry

Hydrocolloids or gums are a diverse group of long chain polymers characterized by their property of forming viscous dispersions and/or gels when dispersed in water. These materials were first found in exudates from trees or bushes, extracts from plants or seaweeds, flours from seeds or grains, gummy slimes from fermentation processes, and many other natural products. Occurrence of a large number of hydroxyl groups noticeably increases their affinity for binding water molecules rendering them hydrophilic compounds. Further, they produce a dispersion, which is intermediate between a true solution and a suspension, and exhibits the properties of a colloid. Hydrocolloids have a wide array of functional properties in foods including; thickening, gelling, emulsifying, stabilization, coating and etc. Hydrocolloids have a profound impact on food properties when used at levels ranging from a few parts per million for carrageenan in heat-treated dairy products to high levels of acacia gum, starch or gelatin in jelly confectionery. The primary reason behind the ample use of hydrocolloids in foods is their ability to modify the rheology of food systems. This includes two basic properties of food systems that is, flow behavior (viscosity) and mechanical solid property (texture). The modification of texture and/or viscosity of food systems helps modify its sensory properties, therefore hydrocolloids are used as significant food additives to perform specific purposes. It is evident that several hydrocolloids belong to the category of permitted food additive in many countries throughout the world. Various food formulations such as soups, gravies, salad dressings, sauces and toppings use hydrocolloids as additives to achieve the preferred viscosity and mouth feel. They are also used in many food products like ice_creams, jams, jellies, gelled desserts, cakes and candies, to create the desired texture. In addition to the functional attributes, future acceptance and, possibly, positive endorsement may derive from the recognition that fibers contribute to many physiological benefits to the natural function and well-being of the body.

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