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Pectin

Scientific Name(S): Pectin

Common Name(S): Pectin

History: Pectin is found in the cell walls of all plant tissue where it acts as an intercellular "cement," giving the plant rigidity. The compound is found at concentrations of 15% to 30% in the fiber of fruits, vegetables, legumes and nuts. Lemon and orange rinds are among the richest sources of the compound, containing up to 30% of this polysaccharide. Pectin is also found in the roots of most plants.

Pectin has been used in the food industry to add body and texture to jellies, jams, puddings and other gelatinous products. It has also been added to antidiarrheal products and has been particularly effective when combined with adsorbing clays such as kaolin.

Uses of Pectin:

Pectin has been used to lower blood lipoprotein levels, in antidiarrheal products, and investigated for its ability to reduce the consequence of exposure to radiation.

Side Effects of Pectin:

Pectin is generally well tolerated when ingested. Occupational asthma has been associated with the inhalation of pectin dust.

Drug Interactions: Coadministration of pectin with beta-carotene containing foods or supplements can reduce the blood levels of beta-carotene by more than one-half.

Toxicology: Pectin is a fermentable fiber that results in the production of short-chain fatty acids and methane. Concomitant administration of pectin with beta-carotene containing foods or supplements can reduce the blood levels of beta-carotene by more than one-half. There is some indication that concomitant ingestion of pectin with high energy diets may reduce the availability of these diets, as demonstrated in a controlled trial of undernourished children; urea production was also shown to be lower in children who ingested pectin with their caloric supplement.

Occupational asthma associated with the inhalation of pectin dust is a well-recognized hazard.

Summary: Pectin is a natural polysaccharide that forms thick colloidal solutions in water. It is added to processed foods to create texture. Medicinally, the compound has been widely used in antidiarrheal products, serving as a stool-forming agent. It also appears to lower blood lipoprotein levels. Pectin is generally well tolerated, although it may interfere with the absorption of dietary nutrients.


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