What Is Apple Pectin?

Gelling compound in apples is a great source of soluble fiber

Apple pectin powder, capsules, pear, apple, and citrus peel

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Apple pectin is a type of soluble fiber. It comes from apples.

Pectin is used to thicken jams and preserves. But it's also used as a dietary supplement.

In your intestine, pectin mixes with water. That forms a gel-like substance that can ease bowel movements. Some people say apple pectin helps:

  • Improve digestive health
  • Prevent or treat gastrointestinal disorders
  • Prevent or treat metabolic disorders

This article looks at how apple pectin is used, what research says, possible side effects, how to take it, and what to look for.

What Is Apple Pectin?

Pectin is a type of acid. It's found in the cell wall of plants. The main component is galacturonic acid (a type of sugar acid).

Your digestive enzymes can't break down pectin. But gut bacteria can.

Supplement makers modify pectin to make it easier to digest. They do that with chemicals like acetic acid and calcium chloride. This is believed to make it more effective.

Little solid proof exists showing apple pectin can prevent or treat any disease. As a soluble fiber, it may improve digestive or heart health. More research is needed.

Modified citrus pectin (MCP) supplements are more common. But apple pectin supplements are also available.

What Is Apple Pectin Used For?

Alternative medicine practitioners believe apple pectin can prevent or treat many conditions. These include:

Of these, possible uses, the best research so far is for diarrhea, high cholesterol, diabetes, and cancer.

Recap

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. 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.

High Cholesterol

Apple pectin may help lower cholesterol. One study suggests it can lower "bad" LDL cholesterol between 7% and 10%.

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.

Diabetes

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:

  • Glucose
  • Fructose
  • Galactose

However, a 2016 review reported apple pectin didn't reduce blood sugars. The insulin response was the same as with a placebo.

Soybean pectin appears to have a greater effect on blood glucose levels. It may help with diabetes control when added to other treatments.

Cancer

Alternative practitioners often tout apple pectin as a cancer-fighter. That's because it can bind to an intestinal enzyme called beta-glucuronidase (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.

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.

MCP is readily absorbed in the intestine. But apple pectin absorption is minimal. That makes its cancer-fighting properties improbable at best.

Recap

Some evidence suggests apple pectin may be helpful as a treatment for diarrhea, high cholesterol, and diabetes. It's less likely to be effective against cancer. More research is needed in all areas.

Possible Side Effects

Apple pectin is generally safe. Even so, it may cause side effects such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Stomach cramps

These tend to be mild. They may go away with a smaller dose.

Pectin can interfere with the absorption of beta-carotene. That's an important antioxidant in colorful plants and fruits.

Low beta-carotene can lead to vitamin A deficiency. That can cause:

  • Dry skin
  • Dry eyes
  • Night blindness
  • Impaired fertility
  • Higher risk of throat and chest infection

Pectin can also interfere with how you absorb certain drugs. These include:

Let your healthcare provider know if you're using apple pectin.

Recap

Side effects are possible with apple pectin. They're usually mild and go away with a smaller dose. Let your healthcare provider know you're taking it. Then they can watch for interactions with other things you take.

Dosage and Preparation

Apples, pear, and citrus peel
Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

You can buy apple pectin supplements online or stores that carry supplements. They usually come in capsule form or as a powder. The powder can be mixed with water or juice.

Guidelines for safe and effective use of apple pectin aren't established. Most manufacturers recommend a daily dose of between 1,000 mg and 1,400 mg.

It's best to take it 30 minutes before a meal. Then it can bind with excess water, fat, or carbohydrates in your intestine.

Start with half doses of apple pectin for the first few weeks. Then gradually increasing them as tolerated. Pectin can cause diarrhea, especially at first.

For children, two daily dosages totaling between 350 mg and 750 mg is believed to be safe. Talk to their healthcare provider before using apple pectin—or any other antidiarrheal remedy—in children.

Recap

Apple pectin is widely available. Follow the manufacturer's dosing instructions. Taking it 30 minutes before eating allows it to be most effective.

What to Look For

Dietary supplements aren't strictly regulated in the United States. It's difficult to know which are good or not-so-good.

Look for brands certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). They're less likely to have harmful substances like pesticides.

Also, opt for brands tested by an independent certifying body. These include:

  • U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP)
  • ConsumerLab
  • NSF International

This lets you know it contains the ingredients and amounts on the label.

Store apple pectin at room temperature in an airtight container. Never use a supplement past its expiration date. Discard any supplement that's water-damaged and any powder that's clumpy or gelled.

Recap

Look for certified organic supplements that have been tested by third-party organizations. Don't use damaged, gelled, or clumpy supplements. Store at room temperature.

Summary

Pectin comes from plant cells. Apple pectin may help treat diarrhea, high cholesterol, and diabetes. While less likely, it may have some anti-cancer benefits. More research is needed.

Watch for side effects. Ask your healthcare provider if apple pectin is safe for you.

Apple pectin supplements are widely available. Follow the dosing instructions on the label.

Choose products that are organic and third-party tested to ensure they contain what the label says.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What are some good sources of pectin besides apples and supplements?

    Foods naturally high in pectin include:

    • Stone fruits (apricots, cherries, nectarines, peaches)
    • Beets
    • Carrots
    • Citrus and citrus peels
    • Potatoes and sweet potatoes
    • Pears

    The soluble fiber in these foods can improve digestion. Adults should get between 2,240 mg and 3,080 mg of dietary fiber per day.



8 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Cathy Wong
Cathy Wong is a nutritionist and wellness expert. Her work is regularly featured in media such as First For Women, Woman's World, and Natural Health.