Is Pectin Bad for You?

Fried bread with jam
Jam spread on a piece of toast. (Image: SasaJo/iStock/Getty Images)

Pectin, a thickening agent often used when making jams and jellies, also occurs naturally in fruits and vegetables. This soluble dietary fiber is quite good for you, offering a range of health benefits. If you have cancer, diabetes or other conditions, pectin may a good choice for your diet. Consult your physician about whether pectin is right for you.

Cancer

Pectin may have benefits for those with cancer or at risk of cancer. A study published in the June 2011 issue of "The Journal of Nutrition" indicates that a diet that contains pectin reduces your risk of colon cancer by suppressing cell growth. Nasal sprays with pectin-based medications also helps cancer patients with pain ease those symptoms, according to research featured in the June 2011 edition of "CNS Drugs."

Diabetes

Diabetes wreaks havoc with your blood glucose levels, and many diabetics use diet or insulin to control these levels. The pectin present in passion fruit may find use as a treatment for some types of diabetes. Evidence available in the May 2011 issue of the "Journal of Medicinal Food" suggests that this pectin lowered the glucose level in diabetic rats and also decreased inflammation in their bodies. Researchers theorized that this pectin could find use as a therapeutic agent in type-2 diabetes, although more research is needed to determine if these findings correlate to humans.

Cholesterol

A cholesterol level of 200 mg/dL stands as the ideal count, lowering your risk of heart disease. However, many Americans suffer from high cholesterol, and physicians often advise their patients to eat less fat and exercise more to lower that number. Pectin may have a positive influence on your cholesterol level. A study in the April 2011 issue of "Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology" notes that rats fed pectin may correct cholesterol levels. However, human research is needed to confirm this finding.

Incontinence

The pectin in your diet may help manage or prevent some types of incontinence. Research in the June 2009 issue of the "Journal of Pediatric Surgery" points to pectin as an effective part of a management program to control fecal incontinence. Women require 21 to 25 g of fiber, including pectin, each day, and men need 30 to 38 g of this nutrient daily.

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