If you’re someone who carefully reads food labels, you’ve likely noticed pectin listed as a common food additive. And if you love to bake, you’re probably familiar with pectin as the key to achieving the perfect jelly and jam consistency. Even if you haven’t heard of pectin before, it’s likely a significant part of your daily life, whether you realize it or not. This is because it’s not only added to a variety of food products but is also naturally present in some of the most commonly consumed fruits and vegetables in America. Ahead, we’ll explore what exactly pectin is and why it’s used in so many food products, as well as the benefits of consuming fruit pectin and how to incorporate more of it into your diet.
What is pectin?
Pectin is a type of soluble fiber naturally found in fruits and vegetables. It’s commonly used as an additive to thicken foods and create a more gel-like texture. According to Bianca Tamburello, RDN at FRESH Communications, all soluble fibers, including pectin, dissolve in water to form a gel, whether in our bodies once we consume it or in culinary applications. Pectin is frequently used as an additive and stabilizer in products like jellies, jams, frozen foods, and candies and is even included in certain milk and yogurt products to improve their texture. Pectin is available in liquid and powder forms in the baking aisle and is typically made from citrus peels or apple cores and skins.
Health benefits of pectin
In addition to its role as a processed baking ingredient, pectin is naturally found in most fruits and vegetables and is associated with a variety of health benefits. As a soluble fiber, pectin serves as a prebiotic, providing food for healthy bacteria in the gut microbiome. It also supports digestive regularity and has been linked to heart health benefits, such as binding to cholesterol in the small intestine and regulating the blood sugar response. Pectin also has immune-boosting properties and is often found in medications and supplements geared toward addressing GI, heart health, and metabolic concerns.
Foods high in pectin
To incorporate more pectin into your diet, Tamburello recommends consuming natural sources like fruits and vegetables. Apples, citrus fruits, apricots, cranberries, beans, grapes, carrots, and bananas are all high in pectin and can help you reach the recommended 10 to 20 grams per day.
In conclusion, pectin is a versatile fiber that offers numerous health benefits and can be easily incorporated into a balanced diet through natural food sources. Whether added to food products as an additive or found in fruits and veggies, pectin is a valuable component of a healthy lifestyle.