Hydrocolloids are a heterogeneous group of polymeric substances that mostly include polysaccharides and a number of proteins. Its name comes from the Greek word hydro (water) and kolla (glue).
Upon contact with water, it gets ‘trapped’ within its branched, polymeric structure, creating viscous dispersions or gels. This provides the food industry with the possibility of using them to generate different elasticities, textures and properties that improve food conditions.
Hydrocolloids have a wide range of applications due to their excellent properties: they can be used as a thickening or texturizing agent, increase the thickness and texture of foods, as an emulsifier or binder.
Most hydrocolloids are of natural origin, i.e., they are extracted from animals, such as gelatin; from vegetables, such as starch; or from algae, such as agar.
Although there is a wide range of hydrocolloids available to the industry, agar has been crowned as the healthiest on the market due to its healthy benefits: it reduces cholesterol and sugar absorption, has less than 0.2% fat, reduces acidity, provides minerals and regulates bowel transit due to its high fiber content.
In addition, it is the healthiest vegan and natural alternative to animal-based gelatin.