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What is pectin?
Pectin (from Greek pektos = curdled, gelatinated) is a mixture of indigestible polysaccharides (complex carbohydrates) naturally occurring in plant foods. It is a viscous soluble fiber, which cannot be digested by the human enzymes, but can be broken down (fermented) by beneficial large intestinal bacteria into simple sugars, which are absorbed . One gram of a dry pectin powder has 3.3 Calories . In European Union, pectins are labeled as E number E440 .
Fruits and Vegetables High in Pectin
The following foods contain 0.1-1% pectin :
Fruits: apple, apricot, banana (especially unripe), blackberries, cherries, crabapples, cranberries, currants, dewberries, gooseberries, grapefruit, grapes, lemon, mayhaw, orange, pineapple, plums, pomegranate, quince, raspberries, strawberries.
Vegetables, legumes and cereals: beans, carrots, cornflakes and some other ready-to-eat cereals, guava, peas, squash, sweet potatoes.
Pectin as a Food Additive
Pectin extracted from apples or peels of citrus fruits can be added as a gelling agent, thickener, stabilizer or emulsifier to jams, jellies, puddings, yogurts, canned foods, cakes, pies and other baked foods, and in beverages. Pectin is also used in lozenges for sore throat.
Pectin Supplements Benefits: Insufficient Evidence
Pectin supplements are available over-the-counter as tablets or capsules.
There is INSUFFICIENT EVIDENCE about the effect of pectin on blood cholesterol levels , blood glucose spikes after meals in individuals with diabetes 2 , gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and heartburn [4,8], weight loss, colon or prostate cancer [12,13], diarrhea in children (alone or in combination with kaolin)  or excretion of heavy metals (lead, arsenic, cadmium) [9,10,11].
Pectins are Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)  and have the “ADI not specified” status by JECFA , which is the highest safety category.
Pregnancy. There is a lack of studies about pectin use during pregnancy and breastfeeding .
Pectin may reduce the absorption of beta-carotene from foods for 50% . Individuals allergic to pistachios and cashew nuts may be cross-sensitive to pectin [4,14].
Pectin and Cooking
Physical properties :
- A white, yellowish, light grey or light brown powder; other ingredients: various sugars and salts
- No distinct taste
- Gelling and thickening agent, emulsifier (maintains various liquids mixed)
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is pectin vegan and gluten-free?
Pure pectin is mainly made from fruits, so it is vegan and gluten-free. For the actual pectin product, check the description on the label.
2. What is difference between pectin and gelatin?
Pectin is a plant carbohydrate, while gelatin is derived from animal proteins.