Pectin, a type of fiber in the cell walls of plants, helps give plants their structure.
Apple pectin is extracted from apples, which are some of the richest sources of fiber. Roughly 15–20% of the pulp of this fruit is made of pectin.
Pectin is also found in the peels of citrus fruits, as well as quinces, cherries, plums, and other fruits and vegetables.
Apple pectin is linked to several emerging health benefits, including lower cholesterol and improved blood sugar control.
Here are 10 promising benefits and uses of apple pectin.
1. Promote gut health
Your gut microbiome needs both prebiotics and probiotics to stay healthy.
Probiotics are healthy bacteria in your gut that break down certain foods, kill dangerous organisms, and create vitamins. Prebiotics can help feed these good bacteria.
As it stimulates the growth and activity of helpful bacteria, apple pectin is considered a prebiotic. What’s more, it may help inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria, such as Clostridium and Bacteroides, in the digestive tract.
2. Aid weight loss
Apple pectin may aid weight loss by delaying stomach emptying.
Slower digestion may help you feel full for longer. In turn, this may reduce your food intake, leading to weight loss.
In one 2-day study, 74 adults took 5–20 grams of pectin with orange juice after fasting overnight. Even those taking the smallest dose experienced more fullness and reduced food intake.
However, a 3-week study in 11 adults noted that supplementing with 27 grams of citrus-peel pectin daily did not affect fullness or weight loss.
3. Control blood sugar
Soluble fiber like pectin is believed to decrease blood sugar levels, which could aid conditions like type 2 diabetes.
In a small, 4-week study, 12 people with type 2 diabetes took 20 grams of apple pectin daily and experienced improved blood sugar responses.
Yet, a review noted that standard doses of any type of pectin do not seem to reduce blood sugar levels.
As such, further studies are necessary.
4. Aid heart health
Apple pectin may boost heart health by lowering cholesterol and blood pressure levels.
This substance binds to bile acids in your small intestine, which may help improve cholesterol levels.
An analysis of 67 studies in 2,990 adults determined that pectin reduced LDL (bad) cholesterol without affecting HDL (good) cholesterol. Overall, pectin tended to lower total cholesterol by 5–16%.
This is important, as elevated levels of total and LDL (bad) cholesterol are a major risk factor for heart disease.
Other human and animal studies have observed similar results.
What’s more, apple pectin may affect blood pressure, which is another risk factor for heart disease.
A review of 43 studies showed that 9 grams of pectin per day for 7 weeks lowered both systolic and diastolic blood pressure — the top and bottom numbers in a reading, respectively. This effect was especially pronounced in people with high blood pressure.
However, more specific research on apple pectin and blood pressure is necessary.
5. Relieve diarrhea and constipation
Constipation and diarrhea are common complaints. In fact, around 14% of people worldwide deal with chronic constipation.
Apple pectin may alleviate both diarrhea and constipation.
As a gel-forming fiber, pectin easily absorbs water and has been shown to normalize stools.
In 2 studies, people who took 24 grams of pectin daily experienced fewer symptoms of diarrhea and constipation.
6. Enhance iron absorption
There is some research showing that apple pectin may improve iron uptake.
Iron is an essential mineral that transports oxygen throughout your body and makes red blood cells.
This could be especially important for people with anemia, a condition linked to weakness and fatigue that’s often caused by iron deficiency. Notably, the World Health Organization (WHO) asserts that over 30% of women globally who are of childbearing age are anemic.People who are menstruating and anyone following a vegan or vegetarian diet are at a particularly high risk of iron deficiency. Menstruation can trigger iron loss, while iron found in plant-based diets isn’t absorbed as well as iron from animal foods.
Yet, research on apple pectin provides mixed results.
While one rat study showed that pectin enhanced iron absorption, another did not.
Therefore, research that includes humans is needed.
7. Improve acid reflux
Pectin may improve acid reflux symptoms.
Around 20% of adults in the United States have acid reflux, a condition in which stomach acid rises into your esophagus. It may lead to heartburn or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) when it occurs too often.
In a study in 18 children with cerebral palsy on tube feedings, those who received pectin in their formulas experienced fewer and less severe episodes of acid reflux.
Yet, because of the limited nature of this study, more research is necessary.
8. Strengthen hair and skin
Hair loss affects millions of people and is considered difficult to treat.
Anecdotal evidence associates apple pectin with stronger hair and skin. It has even been added to cosmetic products, such as shampoos, with the promise of fuller hair.
However, no scientific evidence links pectin to hair or skin health.
Your best bet is to eat whole apples, as their vitamin C content supports healthy skin.
9. Offer anticancer effects
Diet plays a role in cancer development and progression, with increased fruit and vegetable intake potentially lowering your risk.
Test-tube studies suggest that pectin may fight prostate and colon cancer cells.
One rat study revealed that citrus pectin reduced the spread of prostate cancer — but failed to affect the primary tumor.
Although these studies are promising, further research is needed.
10. Easy to add to your diet
Pectin is a common ingredient in jams and pie fillings, as it helps thicken and stabilize foods.
Apple pectin is likewise available as a supplement.
Moreover, whole apples provide pectin, with the Granny Smith variety offering the highest amounts.
It’s easy to eat apple slices raw, bake them with cinnamon, or add them to smoothies. You can also mix them into your oatmeal.
What Is Apple Pectin Used For?
Alternative medicine practitioners believe apple pectin can prevent or treat many conditions. These include:
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Of these, possible uses, the best research so far is for diarrhea, high cholesterol, diabetes, and cancer.
Pectin comes from plant cells. Modified pectin supplements are believed to be more effective. Alternative practitioners say it can treat many digestive disorders and other illnesses.
Diarrhea, Some early research suggests apple pectin may help relieve diarrhea.
A German study gave apple pectin and chamomile extract to children with bouts of diarrhea.3 It involved 255 children between 6 months and 6 years old. Some got a placebo.
Others took a commercial preparation called Diarrhoesan. It contained:
320 milligrams (mg) of apple pectin
250 mg of camomile extract
Researchers said the children treated with Diarrhoesan had more symptom improvement than those who weren't.
A 2015 Chinese study looked at pectin powder. It involved:
87 adults with diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-D)
24 grams of apple pectin per day
A course of 29 months
Compared to a control group, those taking pectin saw a bigger drop in symptoms.
Apple pectin may help lower cholesterol. One study suggests it can lower "bad" LDL cholesterol between 7% and 10%.5
LDL cholesterol builds up on arterial walls. That leads to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).
Pectin works by binding to bile in the intestines. Bile breaks down fat so it can be absorbed into your bloodstream.
Apple pectin inhibits the breakdown of dietary fat. It may help treat hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol). It's unlikely to do enough on its own. But it may be a useful part of a treatment regimen.
Natural Cholesterol Fighters
Some pectins may reduce blood sugar. They bind to carbohydrates in the stomach and intestine. This helps keep carbs from being broken down into sugars, namely:
However, a 2016 review reported apple pectin didn't reduce blood sugars. The insulin response was the same as with a placebo.6
Soybean pectin appears to have a greater effect on blood glucose levels. It may help with diabetes control when added to other treatments.
Alternative practitioners often tout apple pectin as a cancer-fighter. That's because it can bind to an intestinal enzyme called (β-glucuronidase).
The enzyme comes from fecal bacteria. It's closely associated with colon cancer.
A review of test-tube studies confirmed apple pectin could suppress β-glucuronidase in test-tube studies. Animal studies also suggest a benefit.
Still, there's no evidence yet that it works in humans.7
By contrast, modified citrus pectin appears to lower the risk of metastasis (spreading cancer) in mice. It does so by blocking the formation of blood vessels that "feed" tumors.
This activity happens in the bloodstream. Apple pectin works in the intestines.
Apple pectin is a type of soluble fiber with several potential health benefits.
It may improve cholesterol, blood pressure, gut health, and bowel stability, though results are mixed and more research is necessary.
You can consume it as a supplement, via jams and jellies, or by eating whole apples with the skin to get the max amount of pectin.
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