What Are Pectin, Guar Gum, and Carrageenans?

Staff Writer
Decoding the ingredients section of nutrition labels

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

Even in an age where everyone is going organic and local, the ingredients list on nutrition labels may still seem like a foreign language. NPR has done us all a favor and compiled definitions of the most popular lab-created products.

Surprisingly, most ingredients are contrived from plants. Carrageenans are carbohydrates from red seaweed, guar gum is extracted from the seeds of a guar gum bush, and pectin comes from citrus fruit and sugar beets' peels.

Some of the ingredients may sound less appetizing after reading about them. Example: "Xanthan gum is made by industrial fermentation of sugar by the bacteria Xanthomonas campestris." But at least we know what we're eating.

The Daily Byte is a regular column dedicated to covering interesting food news and trends across the country. Click here for previous columns.