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Pectin Health Benefits

Pectin is a type of soluble fiber present in various fruits. It is commonly used to thicken foods in commercial preparations. The highest levels of pectin are found in citrus peels, oranges, apples and carrots. Pectin has many beneficial uses and has many pharmaceutical applications. Pectin is available in the form of nutritional supplements as well and is used mainly for managing increased cholesterol levels in the body.

Information & Facts:

  • Pectin is obtained from citrus peels through the process of aqueous extraction.
    This type of pectin is known as citrus pectin.
  • Pectin is used in the food industry to lend a gel-like texture to foods such as jams.
  • When used along with kaolin pectin helps to treat diarrhea.
  • The recommended dosage of pectin supplements is 15 grams per day.
  • Pectin is available as a fine or coarse powder which is odorless and whitish in color.
  • Pectin supplements should be taken with plenty of fluid.

The many health benefits of pectin include improvement in digestive health, regulation of bowel movements and prevention of heart disease.

Reduction in cholesterol levels:

Elevated cholesterol levels considerably increase the risk of developing heart disease. High cholesterol levels in the blood cause plaque buildup in the arteries and when there is a blockage in the artery leading to the heart, a heart attack can occur. One of the best ways to reduce your risk of heart disease is to control your cholesterol levels through dietary changes, exercise and intake of medication. Grapefruit pectin is known to be a beneficial remedy for lowering cholesterol levels. In one study, individuals with high cholesterol consumed grapefruit pectin for a period of 16 weeks. The results showed that the pectin resulted in a reduction of bad cholesterol or LDL in the blood.

Reduction in blood pressure and blood sugar:

Apples are also a valuable source of pectin. Many health experts recommend apple pectin for heart health because it is a soluble fiber which helps to reduce the absorption of cholesterol and also slows down bile recycling. The viscous gel-like nature of pectin causes it to bind to the bile acids, reduce their recycling time and increase the excretion of bile acids. Since there is a lower level of bile acids in circulation, the liver uses cholesterol to make more of them. This results in a reduction of LDL cholesterol levels. Due to its effect on cholesterol, pectin also helps to lower blood pressure. Some studies have shown that apple pectin is also beneficial for people with diabetes because it reduced blood sugar levels.

Weight loss:

Pectin being a soluble fiber also assists in weight loss. It makes you feel full much faster since it absorbs water during the process of digestion. Soluble fiber even slows down the absorption of carbohydrates. This keeps the blood glucose levels stable and keeps hunger pangs at bay.

Alleviated Diarrhea:

Pectin increases the viscosity and bulk of the stools and thus helps to relieve diarrhea. It is used in many commercial diarrhea medications. Pectin obtained directly from fruits supplies nutrients to the ‘good’ bacteria in the colon and helps to repair damages tissue in the large intestine.


Individuals with arthritis commonly experience symptoms such as joint pain, stiffness, inflammation and degeneration of the joints are constantly on the lookout for beneficial remedies which are non-habit-forming. Pectin which is naturally present in citrus fruits, bananas, apples and some vegetables adheres to heavy metals and removes them from the joints. This is known as chelation. The joints get damaged when heavy metals accumulate in them and cause them to become painful and stiff. Getting rid of these heavy metals through chelation enables the body to repair itself. Pectin also stimulates the production of synovial fluid which protects the joints and enables them to function properly.

Sore Throat:

Throat lozenges meant to relieve a sore throat commonly contain pectin. Pectin works as a demulcent and has a soothing effect on an itchy, irritated throat. Lozenges which contain pectin as the only active ingredient are beneficial for children since they taste good, soothe the throat and usually do not cause any negative effects. However it is best to consult a doctor before giving any medication to children.


Researchers found that individuals with irritation in the intestinal lining who took pectin derived from beets experienced greater relief from constipation and intestinal irritation. This was in comparison to another group of individuals who took probiotics. Soluble fiber helps to add bulk to the stools and promotes better bowel movements, thereby alleviating constipation.

Prevents gall stones:

Some studies have found that pectin can prevent the formation of gall stones and may also be effective in dissolving existing gall stones.

Prevention of prostate cancer:

According to one particular study, pectin may help to prevent cancer of the prostate gland. It may also be helpful in the treatment of existing prostate cancer.

Side Effects Of Pectin

  • Intake of large amounts of high-fiber products such as pectin may result in certain unpleasant effects on health.
  • Ingestion of high levels of pectin may lead to gas formation and bloating in the intestinal tract. This can also cause abdominal pain and cramps. Some people do not have the enzymes necessary to break down fiber in the small intestine. As a result the fiber remains undigested and when it accumulates in the small and large intestines, gases are releases. These gases lead to abdominal discomfort and bloating.
  • Pectin helps to cleanse the intestinal tract but if it is consumed in large quantities, it may cause diarrhea. When there is a high intake of fiber through the diet, the absorption of other nutrients may reduce in the intestinal tract and this can trigger bouts of diarrhea. Therefore it is advisable to drink plenty of water when taking fiber supplements such as pectin.
  • The fiber in pectin may expand inside the stomach and exert pressure on the stomach walls and the receptors in the digestive tract send a signal to the brain indicating that you are full. Hence there may be a decrease in appetite and weight loss.
  • The passage of fiber along the digestive tract may disrupt the absorption of certain important nutrients such as calcium, zinc, iron and magnesium. These minerals may get trapped in the fiber particles and may not be able to enter the blood stream. Therefore pectin and other nutritional supplements must be taken separately.
  • Modified citrus pectin may cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive to citrus fruits. Some of the symptoms of an allergic reaction include digestive distress and diarrhea. Some people may even develop asthma symptoms.
  • Pectin supplements may interfere with the absorption of other medications. Therefore you should always consult your doctor before combining pectin supplements with other medications, supplements or herbs.
  • There is inconclusive research on the effects of using pectin during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Studies have not been able to determine the effects of pectin intake on fetal development. Pregnant women should therefore, avoid taking pectin supplements until they have consulted their doctor.
Submitted on January 27, 2012