What is Pectin

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One of the most common type of fiber which we keep on reading in various articles related to fruits and vegetables is Pectin. Pectin is a type of polysaccharides which is present in the cell walls of plants and sometimes in the cells also.  Pectin binds the cells together and it is found in most fruits and vegetables.

When the fruit is raw pectin hold the cells together tightly and keeps the fruits strong.  As the fruit ripens the pectin breaks down and the cell walls start getting separated from each other.  This makes the fruit or vegetable soft.

Why is Pectin Important For Us

Pectin is a kind of soluble dietary fiber and important for our health.  It can trap and bind with cholesterol in the intestines.  Pectin makes the food in the intestine more viscous and reduces the absorption of cholesterol in the body.  It can also slow down the absorption of glucose into the blood stream.  Hence it play an important role in reducing bad cholesterol which improves the heart health.  Slowing down of glucose absorption helps those who suffer from type 2 diabetes.

The gut bacteria in the intestine and colon work on the pectin and release short chain fatty acids which are beneficial for our health.  It also increases the good bacteria in our body.

Pectin also increases the viscosity and volume of stool.  Hence it is used in many medicines to treat constipation and also helps in treating diarrhea.

What are the Foods Which Contain Pectin

Many fruits contain pectin.  For example Citrus fruits such as oranges are good source of pectin contain around 3.5 grams of pectin per 100 grams.  Pectin is also found in apples and pears.  In apple pectin in found mainly in the juice which is dried and then used commercially.

Other Uses of Pectin

Pectin is used mainly as gelling and thickening agent in many food products such as jams, jelly etc.  If thickening agents are not used jams would remain as liquid form.

It is also used in many drugs and helps in controlling the release of the drug in the blood stream.  Since pectin can be digested by bacteria to a large extent it is used to mix in the fodder to the cattle to improve their health also.

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