Acacia fiber is a type of soluble fiber sourced from the sap of the Acacia senegal tree, a plant native to parts of Africa, Pakistan, and India. Also known as gum acacia and arabic gum, acacia fiber is said to offer a number of health benefits.
Benefits of Acacia Fiber
Although very few studies have tested the health effects of acacia fiber, there's some evidence that it may offer certain benefits. Here's a look at some key findings from the available research:
1) High Cholesterol
Preliminary studies suggest that acacia fiber may help keep cholesterol in check. In a 2009 report published in Food and Chemical Toxicology, for instance, investigators analyzed the available research on acacia fiber and found that acacia fiber appears to reduce cholesterol levels in rats.
Acacia fiber may help protect against certain diabetes-related complications, according to an animal-based study published in Kidney & Blood Pressure Research in 2012. In tests on diabetic mice, scientists determined that treatment with acacia fiber helped lower blood pressure. Given this finding, the study's authors suggest that acacia fiber may help shield people with diabetes from diabetic nephropathy (a type of kidney damage thought to result in part from poor control of diabetes and blood pressure).
3) Liver Health
Animal-based research indicates that acacia fiber may help guard against liver damage caused by ingestion of acetaminophen (a drug used to relieve pain). For example, a 2003 study published in Pharmacology Research found that treating mice with acacia fiber prior to administering acetaminophen helped protect their livers from the drug's toxic effects. According to the study's authors, acacia fiber may help combat liver damage by reducing oxidative stress.
Uses for Acacia Fiber
Due to its high content of soluble fiber, acacia fiber is thought to help lower cholesterol levels, keep blood sugar in check and protect against diabetes, and aid in the treatment of digestive disorders (including irritable bowel syndrome). (One of the two main types of dietary fiber, soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance in the intestines.)
Alternatives to Acacia Fiber
In addition, you can increase your soluble fiber intake by regularly consuming foods like apples, citrus, carrots, barley, oats, and legumes.
Due to a lack of research, little is known about the safety of long-term use of acacia fiber. Since consuming large amounts of any type of fiber in a short period of time can cause a number of side effects (including gas, bloating, and cramps), it's important to gradually increase your consumption of acacia fiber.
Where to Find Acacia Fiber
Widely available for purchase online, acacia powder is sold in many natural-foods stores and in stores specializing in dietary supplement. Typically sold in powder form, acacia fiber is also available in tablet and capsule form.
Ali BH, Ziada A, Blunden G. "Biological effects of gum arabic: a review of some recent research." Food Chem Toxicol. 2009 Jan;47(1):1-8.
Gamal el-din AM, Mostafa AM, Al-Shabanah OA, Al-Bekairi AM, Nagi MN. "Protective effect of arabic gum against acetaminophen-induced hepatotoxicity in mice." Pharmacol Res. 2003 Dec;48(6):631-5.
Nasir O, Umbach AT, Rexhepaj R, Ackermann TF, Bhandaru M, Ebrahim A, Artunc F, Kempe DS, Puchchakayala G, Siraskar B, Föller M, Saeed A, Lang F. "Effects of gum arabic (Acacia senegal) on renal function in diabetic mice." Kidney Blood Press Res. 2012;35(5):365-72.