What Is Apple Pectin?

A source of prebiotics and soluble fiber

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

Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

Apple pectin is derived from apples (Malus domestica). It's a source of soluble fiber, is used in dietary supplements, and thickens food products like jams and preserves.

Pectin is a heteropolysaccharide (has several different "simple sugars") containing D-galacturonic (sugar) acid. It's found in the cell walls of plants. Interestingly, studies suggest pectin positively impacted the microbiome (gut bacteria) by increasing or decreasing different gut bacteria.

Researchers have also studied apple pectin for the following:

  • Blood sugar levels
  • Cholesterol levels
  • Digestive health

Read about how apple pectin is used, the research, possible side effects, and more.

Dietary supplements are not regulated like drugs in the United States, meaning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve them for safety and effectiveness before products are marketed. When possible, choose a supplement tested by a trusted third party, such as USP, ConsumerLabs, or NSF. However, even if supplements are third-party tested, that doesn’t mean they are necessarily safe for all or effective in general. Therefore, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider about any supplements you plan to take and check in about potential interactions with other supplements or medications.

Supplement Facts

  • Active ingredient(s): Galacturonic acid
  • Alternate name(s): Protopectin, pectic acid, pectinic acid, prebiotic
  • Legal status: GRAS (generally recognized as safe) food substance, over-the-counter herbal supplement (United States)
  • Suggested dose: 15 grams and more have been used in studies.
  • Safety considerations: Generally recognized as safe. Gastrointestinal side effects may occur.

Uses of Apple Pectin

Supplement use should be individualized and vetted by a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, pharmacist, or healthcare provider. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease.

The best research on apple pectin is in high cholesterol, diabetes, and diarrhea.

While apple pectin has been touted to prevent or treat many conditions, few have solid data backing up their use. Some of the unproven uses include, but aren't limited to:

Diarrhea

Early research suggests apple pectin relieved diarrhea symptoms. A study examined the impact of apple pectin powder on diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-D). It involved 87 adults with IBS-D; treatment lasted 29 months. Compared to the control group, those taking pectin saw a larger drop in symptoms. Further study is needed before suggestions may be made.

Another study gave a combination product containing apple pectin and chamomile extract to children with diarrhea. It involved 255 children between six months and six years old. Some received a placebo. The researchers suggested the children treated with the combination had more symptom improvement than those in the placebo group. However, it's challenging to tell apple pectin's effects alone since a combination product was used.

If your child is experiencing diarrhea, please don't hesitate to contact their healthcare provider for further guidance.

High Cholesterol

Pectin can also help lower your cholesterol. Pectin binds to the cholesterol in your digestive tract and carries it out of the body before it can be absorbed into your bloodstream.

Researchers looked at the effects of apple pectin in people with mildly elevated cholesterol levels. It used 15 grams per day of pectin or cellulose for four weeks. Apple pectin lowered "bad" LDL cholesterol by 4.94 to 9.26 millimoles per liter (mmol/L) and total cholesterol by 3.73 to 6.54 millimoles per liter.

A collection of research (a meta-analysis) similarly found that apple pectin reduced LDL cholesterol levels. However, the authors note results should be interpreted cautiously, as only a limited number of studies were examined.

Diabetes

A phlorizin-enriched apple pectin product reduced the rise in blood sugar after a meal in healthy individuals. The study had a small number of people in it.

Researchers used seven grams (g) of apple pectin in people with insulin-dependent diabetes. Pectin use reduced insulin needs by 35% after meals. However, this study had few people in it.

It's a challenge to make suggestions based on small studies. More study's needed.

Duodenal Ulcers

Researchers compared apple pectin to the standard treatment for duodenal ulcers. Participants were given 10 grams (g) of apple pectin powder twice a day, 150 milligrams (mg) of ranitidine (tablet), or one matching placebo (tablet) in the evening for six months. The researchers concluded apple pectin did not help the recurrence of duodenal ulcers.

What Are the Side Effects of Apple Pectin?

Apple pectin is generally safe. However, there are a few side effects to be aware of.

Common Side Effects

Apple pectin may cause mild side effects associated with fiber content, such as:

  • Diarrhea
  • Gas
  • Stomach cramps

These may go away with lower dosages.

Severe Side Effects

Side effects that may occur with apple pectin are generally mild. However, it should be avoided in individuals allergic to apples or pectin. If you believe you or someone you know has an allergic reaction, please seek immediate medical help.

Pectin may also interfere with how you absorb certain medications and supplements. Let your healthcare provider know if you're using apple pectin.

Precautions

Apple pectin is generally considered safe, but gastrointestinal side effects may occur. However, it should be avoided in individuals allergic to apples or pectin.

Dosage: How Much Apple Pectin Should I Take?

Always speak with a healthcare provider before taking a supplement to ensure that the supplement and dosage are appropriate for your individual needs.

You can buy apple pectin supplements online or in stores that carry supplements. They usually come in capsule form or as a powder. The powder can be mixed with water or juice. You can even make apple pectin at home! This involves boiling unpeeled apples in water with lemon juice for about 45 minutes and straining the pectin. Put the pectin in a refrigerator. Boil it down again for about 20 to 30 minutes the next day. Refrigerate and use within about three or four days. Alternatively, freshly made pectin can be frozen for several months.

Consult the label or your healthcare provider, registered dietitian nutritionist (RD or RDN), or pharmacist for suggestions on when to take apple pectin.

Guidelines for the safe and effective use of apple pectin aren't established. However, studies in adults have used 10 to 15 grams and more per day for a least four weeks.

One study used daily dosages for children. However, a combination product was used. Please talk to your child's healthcare provider before using apple pectin—or any other product—in children, especially if they have certain conditions and/or are taking medications.

Apples, pear, and citrus peel
Verywell / Anastasia Tretiak

What Happens If I Take Too Much Apple Pectin?

Apple pectin toxicity is unlikely. However, if you have severe abdominal discomfort or a severe allergic reaction, seek immediate medical attention.

Interactions

The fiber content in apple pectin may interfere with how your body absorbs medications like levothyroxine or lovastatin. Apple pectin may also interfere with the absorption of certain minerals, like calcium supplements.Take fiber-containing products an hour or more from certain medications and supplements, or as your healthcare provider suggests.

Pectin use reduced insulin needs by 35% after meals in a small study. Decreased blood sugar and decreased insulin needs may occur if using apple pectin. Examples of insulin products include but aren't limited to Humalog, Humulin R, Lantus, Levemir, Basaglar, and Apidra. More information about how different types of insulin work may be found here.

Research suggested pectin may change the absorption of beta-carotene (an antioxidant in colorful plants and fruits) in people assigned female at birth. While unlikely with apple pectin use, low beta-carotene could lead to vitamin A deficiency.

Apple pectin enhanced quercetin uptake in one study. Further study is needed to confirm this result.

It is essential to carefully read a supplement's ingredient list and nutrition facts panel to know which ingredients and how much of each ingredient is included. Please review this supplement label with your healthcare provider to discuss potential interactions with foods, other supplements, and medications.

How to Store Apple Pectin

Apple pectin may be stored in a cool, dry place. Freshly-made apple pectin will likely need to be refrigerated or frozen.

Do follow the manufacturer's storage and discard recommendations on the label.

Similar Supplements

Another soluble fiber-containing supplement is psyllium. Other foods and supplements with prebiotic qualities are also available.

Frequently Asked Questions

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

    Foods with high amounts of pectin include:

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

    The soluble fiber in these foods may improve digestion with adequate fluids. Guidelines suggest children over two years of age and adults get 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories they eat.

  • Why is apple pectin potentially beneficial when it comes to digestive health?

    Apple pectin functions as a prebiotic, feeding gut bacteria. Taken with enough fluids, its soluble fiber content may also help prevent constipation.

  • Can I consume apple pectin if I am taking medication?

    Apple pectin can interact with certain medications and supplements. Consult with your healthcare team for more information.

  • Does apple pectin help with the treatment of chronic disease?

    In studies, apple pectin moderately reduced high cholesterol and blood sugar levels after meals. Eating a balanced diet and getting enough movement are key to keeping cholesterol and blood sugar levels in check. Consult your healthcare provider and/or a registered dietitian nutritionist (RD or RDN) for further guidance.

Sources of Apple Pectin & What To Look For

Dietary supplements aren't strictly regulated in the United States. It can sometimes be challenging to know which are high enough quality. Opt for brands that have current good manufacturing practices (cGMP) and/or are tested by an independent certifying body, including:

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

These resources can inform you about the quality, potential amount of ingredients, and other features.

Food Sources of Apple Pectin

Apple pectin may be found in apples (Malus domestica).

Apple Pectin Supplements

Apple pectin supplements are usually available in capsule or powder form. The powder may be mixed with fluids.

Summary

Apple pectin reduced cholesterol and blood sugar levels in studies. However, further high-quality research is needed. Discuss if apple pectin is safe for you with your healthcare provider. Follow the dosing instructions on the label. Be sure to drink adequate fluids while taking apple pectin.

If you have questions or concerns about your cholesterol or blood sugar levels, consider consulting a registered dietitian nutritionist (RD or RDN).

27 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.
  1. PubChem. D-Galacturonic Acid.

  2. PubChem. Pectin.

  3. Chandel V, Biswas D, Roy S, Vaidya D, Verma A, Gupta A. Current Advancements in Pectin: Extraction, Properties and Multifunctional Applications. Foods. 2022 Sep 2;11(17):2683. doi: 10.3390/foods11172683

  4. Larsen N, de Souza CB, Krych L, et al. Potential of pectins to beneficially modulate the gut microbiota depends on their structural properties. Front Microbiol. 2019;10:223. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2019.00223

  5. Makarova E, Górnaś P, Konrade I, et al. Acute anti-hyperglycaemic effects of an unripe apple preparation containing phlorizin in healthy volunteers: a preliminary studyJ Sci Food Agric. 2015;95(3):560-568. doi:10.1002/jsfa.6779

  6. Brouns F, Theuwissen E, Adam A, et al. Cholesterol-lowering properties of different pectin types in mildly hypercholesterolemic​ men and womenEur J Clin Nutr. 2012 May;66(5):591-9. doi:10.1038/ejcn.2011.208

  7. Food and Drug Administration. CFR - Code of Federal Regulations Title 21.

  8. Wikiera A, Grabacka M, Byczyński Ł, Stodolak B, Mika M. Enzymatically Extracted Apple Pectin Possesses Antioxidant and Antitumor Activity. Molecules. 2021 Mar 6;26(5):1434. doi: 10.3390/molecules26051434

  9. Kang JY, Tay HH, Guan R, Math MV, Yap I, Labrooy SJ. Dietary supplementation with pectin in the maintenance treatment of duodenal ulcer. A controlled studyScand J Gastroenterol. 1988;23(1):95-99. doi:10.3109/00365528809093855

  10. Gerasimidis K, Nichols B, McGowan M, et al. The Effects of Commonly Consumed Dietary Fibres on the Gut Microbiome and Its Fibre Fermentative Capacity in Adults with Inflammatory Bowel Disease in RemissionNutrients. 2022;14(5):1053. Published 2022 Mar 2. doi:10.3390/nu14051053

  11. Tao W, An X, Guo Z, et al. Structural characterization, acute toxicity assessment and protective effects of selenylated apple pectin on dextran sulfate sodium-induced ulcerative colitisFood Funct. 2022;13(13):7320-7332. Published 2022 Jul 4. doi:10.1039/d1fo04189d

  12. Xu L, Yu W, Jiang J, et al. Efficacy of pectin in the treatment of diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome. Zhonghua Wei Chang Wai Ke Za Zhi. 2015 Mar;18(3):267-71.

  13. Becker B, Kuhn U, Hardewig-Budny B. Double-blind, randomized evaluation of clinical efficacy and tolerability of an apple pectin-chamomile extract in children with unspecific diarrhea. Arzneimittelforschung. 2006;56(6):387-93. doi:10.1055/s-0031-1296739

  14. Jesch ED, Carr TP. Food ingredients that inhibit cholesterol absorption. Prev Nutr Food Sci. 2017;22(2):67-80. doi:10.3746/pnf.2017.22.2.67

  15. Kim SJ, Anh NH, Jung CW, Long NP, Park S, Cho YH, Yoon YC, Lee EG, Kim M, Son EY, Kim TH, Deng Y, Lim J, Kwon SW. Metabolic and Cardiovascular Benefits of Apple and Apple-Derived Products: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Front Nutr. 2022 Apr 5;9:766155. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2022.766155.

  16. Poynard T, Slama G, Tchobroutsky G. Reduction of post-prandial insulin needs by pectin as assessed by the artificial pancreas in insulin-dependent diabeticsDiabete Metab. 1982;8(3):187-189.

  17. Quagliani D, Felt-Gunderson P. Closing America’s fiber intake gapAm J Lifestyle Med. 2016;11(1):80-85. doi:10.1177/1559827615588079

  18. Escoffier School of Culinary Arts. How to Make Fruit Pectin.

  19. Wiesner A, Gajewska D, Paśko P. Levothyroxine Interactions with Food and Dietary Supplements-A Systematic ReviewPharmaceuticals (Basel). 2021;14(3):206. Published 2021 Mar 2. doi:10.3390/ph14030206

  20. Richter WO, Jacob BG, Schwandt P. Interaction between fibre and lovastatinLancet. 1991;338(8768):706. doi:10.1016/0140-6736(91)91291-2

  21. Shah M, Chandalia M, Adams-Huet B, et al. Effect of a high-fiber diet compared with a moderate-fiber diet on calcium and other mineral balances in subjects with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 2009;32(6):990-995. doi:10.2337/dc09-0126

  22. Riedl J, Linseisen J, Hoffmann Jürgen, Wolfram G. Some dietary fibers reduce the absorption of carotenoids in women. The Journal of Nutrition. 1999;129(12):2170-2176. doi:10.1093/jn/129.12.2170

  23. Nishijima T, Takida Y, Saito Y, Ikeda T, Iwai K. Simultaneous ingestion of high-methoxy pectin from apple can enhance absorption of quercetin in human subjects. Br J Nutr. 2015;113(10):1531-1538. doi:10.1017/S0007114515000537

  24. USDA. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025.

  25. Blanco-Pérez F, Steigerwald H, Schülke S, Vieths S, Toda M, Scheurer S. The Dietary Fiber Pectin: Health Benefits and Potential for the Treatment of Allergies by Modulation of Gut Microbiota. Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2021 Sep 10;21(10):43. doi: 10.1007/s11882-021-01020-z

  26. Food and Drug Administration. Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP) Regulations.

  27. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Fact Sheet.

By Regina C. Windsor, MPH, RDN
Listen to yourself. Connect the dots. Find your people. Go have fun.

Originally written by Cathy Wong
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.

Learn about our editorial process