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What Are the Health Benefits of Pectin?

author image Janet Renee, MS, RD
Janet Renee is a clinical dietitian with a special interest in weight management, sports dietetics, medical nutrition therapy and diet trends. She earned her Master of Science in nutrition from the University of Chicago and has contributed to health and wellness magazines, including Prevention, Self, Shape and Cooking Light.
What Are the Health Benefits of Pectin?
Pectin is concentrated in the peel and pulp of citrus fruits. Photo Credit: Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Fiber is an important aspect of your diet, and if you're like most Americans, you need to consume more of it. The average American eats 10 to 15 grams of fiber daily, according to MedlinePlus. This is well below the recommendation of 20 to 35 grams per day for adults. Pectin, a type of fiber found in heaviest concentrations in citrus fruits and apples, may offer a host of health benefits.

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Fiber 101

Dietary fiber is the indigestible portion of plants. You get two types of fiber from your diet: soluble and insoluble. They both work together to promote health. Pectin is a form of soluble fiber, which draws water from your digestive tract and forms a gel, helping to slow digestion. Insoluble fiber serves to keep food moving through your digestive system and adds bulk to your stool.

Lowers Cholesterol

Pectin may help promote healthy cholesterol levels, according to a study published in the "European Journal of Clinical Nutrition" May 2012 issue. In the study, participants took 15 grams of apple or citrus pectin daily with food for four weeks. The results showed taking pectin from either source lowered LDL -- a bad form of cholesterol -- by 7 to 10 percent. In a subsequent trial, taking 6 grams of citrus pectin daily for three weeks resulted in a 6 to 7 percent decrease in LDL.

May Protect Against Colon Cancer

Eating a diet rich in fiber such as pectin may be the key to preventing intestinal tumors, according to a test tube study published in a 2003 issue of the journal "Anti-Cancer Research." Scientists tested the effects of pectin on human colon cancer cells and found it inhibits tumor growth, according to the study. Researchers concluded that pectin and substances resulting from the breakdown of pectin may protect against colon cancer.

Promotes Stable Glucose

If you have diabetes, you know the importance of keeping your blood sugar stable. The good news is eating foods rich in soluble fiber such as pectin can help stabilize your blood glucose level. When you eat a meal containing soluble fiber, the fiber slows digestion and delays stomach emptying. This helps slow down how rapidly your body absorbs carbohydrates from the meal, which keeps glucose levels stable.

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