Is Pectin Gluten-free? Know the Benefits and Types of Pectin

“Free of gluten, full of life!” The food you eat can either be the safest form of medicine or the slowest form of poison. Let us dive into the benefits of pectin.

People would have been perplexed by the initials “GF” on a restaurant menu not long ago. But this is not the case anymore!

“Gluten-free eating” has become one of the most popular diet trends worldwide in recent years.

According to a few reports, gluten is safe for everyone except people with celiac disease. On the other hand, some health professionals believe that gluten is hazardous to one’s health. In this blog, we explore if pectin is gluten free and also list out different types, benefits and alternatives of pectin.

Understanding a Gluten-free diet

Gluten is a general term used to describe a group of proteins found in certain cereal grains.

Gluten avoidance involves more than just avoiding typical bread, cereals, pasta, pizza, and beer. 

Gluten can also be found in a variety of other foods, such as frozen veggies in sauces, soy sauce, some meals with “natural flavorings,” vitamin and mineral supplements, some pharmaceuticals, and even toothpaste. 

This makes sticking to a gluten-free diet extremely difficult.

If you’re committed to being gluten-free, you ought to be aware that it can lead to nutritional deficiencies.

Although gluten-free bread manufactured with white rice, tapioca, and other gluten-free flour has become more popular, they are rarely vitamin-fortified. This can be a problem for anyone, but it’s especially concerning for pregnant or newly pregnant women. 

To avoid birth abnormalities, women require vitamin B9, often known as folate or folic acid. Anyone wanting to avoid gluten should take a gluten-free multivitamin-multimineral supplement.

Even though the gluten-free diet is an unquestionable requirement for individuals with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), others without identified gluten issues are experimenting with the diet to help with certain other health complications [1].

Benefits of a gluten-free diet

A gluten-free diet provides numerous benefits, particularly for people with celiac disease.

The following are the key benefits of a gluten-free diet:

1. Reduces inflammation in patients with Celiac disease

Inflammation is a common process that aids in the treatment and healing of infections in humans.

Inflammation can be out of control and linger for weeks, months, or even years. This is referred to as chronic inflammation, and it can lead to a variety of health issues [2].

In celiac disease, an autoimmune condition that can trigger an immune reaction to eating gluten, a gluten-free diet can help reduce chronic inflammation.

A gluten-free diet has been demonstrated in several studies to lower inflammatory markers such as antibody levels. It can also aid in the treatment of celiac disease patients’ intestinal damage caused by gluten-related inflammation [3,4].

2. Aids to boost energy

Celiac disease patients frequently feel fatigued, sluggish, or experience “brain fog” [5].

Nutrient deficiencies as a result of gut injury may be the cause of these symptoms. Anemia, for example, can be caused by an iron imbalance, which is common in celiac disease [6].

If you have celiac disease, switching to a gluten-free diet could help you feel more energized and less fatigued, and sluggish [7].

3. Aids in weight loss

People constantly lookout for weight loss strategies over the web. When you switch to a gluten-free diet, it might help to lose weight. 

This is because it eliminates numerous junk foods from the diet, which add unnecessary calories. Fruit, vegetables, and lean proteins are frequently substituted for these items.

However, packaged “gluten-free” foods such as cakes, pastries, and snacks should be avoided because they can quickly add a lot of calories to your diet [8].

You can also try peptides for weight loss or green coffee for weight loss!

Who should opt for a gluten-free diet?

Gluten is safe to eat for the majority of people.

People with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, on the other hand, cannot tolerate it.

Gluten is usually avoided by people with allergies such as wheat allergy and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

There are two main reasons why someone would prefer to avoid gluten, apart from an allergy.

Celiac disease

Sharp stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, skin rashes, stomach discomfort, bloating, weight loss, anemia, weariness, and depression are common symptoms of celiac disease.

Some individuals with celiac disease don’t experience digestive symptoms at all. They may instead encounter symptoms such as weariness, sadness, and anemia.

However, because these symptoms are also present in a variety of other medical disorders, celiac disease can be difficult to detect.

Non- celiac gluten sensitivity

When a person does not test positive for celiac disease or a wheat allergy, they are said to have non-celiac gluten sensitivity if they still feel uneasy after consuming gluten.

Stomach ache, bloating, changes in bowel motions, exhaustion, and eczema or a rash are all symptoms of non-celiac gluten sensitivity, which are comparable to those of celiac disease.

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity, on the other hand, is a contentious topic. Some experts think this sensitivity exists, while others think it’s all in people’s minds.

Pectin v/s Gluten

Pectin is generally utilized as a thickener in the food production industry and home cookery. 

It’s used in both store-bought and homemade jams, jellies, and preserves. It can also be used as a stabilizer in flavored milk and drinkable yogurt.

Pectin is also available as a soluble fiber supplement in the form of capsules. 

Soluble fiber may aid in the treatment of constipation, the reduction of cholesterol and triglyceride levels, the improvement of blood sugar levels, and the maintenance of a healthy weight [9].

Any food that does not contain any wheat, barley, or rye is considered gluten-free. These grains, which are common constituents in bread and pasta, are clear gluten sources.

Since pectin is widely used in the food industry, the questions that arise now are: Is jam pectin gluten-free? Is pectin vegan? 

Let us individually look at the two topics and understand them better.

Is jam pectin gluten-free?

Pectin is a carbohydrate found predominantly in raw fruit peel and pulp. It acts as a structural “concrete” in nature, helping to hold cell walls together. Pectin can form a web that traps liquid, sets when it cools, and folds stranded fruit pieces in jam.

Simply said, pectin holds the fluidity in foods and binds them together to form a thick mixture. Pectin is naturally in fruits. Pectin is a structural heteropolysaccharide that differs from protein in many ways. 

Citrus peel and apple peel are utilized as raw materials in the production of pectin, which has very little gluten impurities. Hence, pectin is gluten-free.

Is pectin vegan?

Pectin is vegan because it is made entirely of plants. Vegans and vegetarians can consume it in any form without fear of harm. Apple pulp and citrus fruit peels are used to make the majority of commercially available pectin. It’s available in powder or liquefied form.

Types of pectin

Pectin comes in a variety of forms that can be used for a variety of purposes. There are four main categories.

HM Pectin

The most prevalent type of pectin is high methoxyl (HM) pectin. It’s commonly referred to as “rapid-set” or “slow-set.” 

Both sorts are made from citrus fruit peels and are practically the same, with the only difference being how long they take to set and at what temperature.

Slow-set pectin requires a lower temperature and more time to set, whereas rapid-set pectin requires a higher temperature and less time to set.

It’s preferable for jams and preserves since rapid-set pectin is better for recipes that require suspension (the fruit pieces suspended in the viscous jam are referred to as suspension)

Because rapid-set pectin is excellent for recipes that demand suspension, it’s preferred for jams and preserves.

Apple pectin

Apple pectin is a type of pectin that originates from apples and is typically offered as a powder. It can be used as a food stabilizer as well as a gelling and thickening agent. 

For its inherent purgative properties, it is also used in medicine, like supplements, as chews, and as an ingredient to laxatives. Apple pectin is high in fiber, sodium, manganese, copper, and zinc, as well as other nutrients.

Pectin from apples has been linked to several potential health benefits, including lowering cholesterol and better blood sugar control [10,11].

LM pectin

Citrus peels also contain low methoxyl pectin (LM). As it relies on calcium instead of sugar to set, it’s frequently used in low-calorie jams and jellies. It’s also perfect for dairy-based recipes that don’t call for sugar.

As more calcium is added, the LM pectin becomes stiffer until it reaches saturation. The process then reverses, so it becomes less firm.

It gels regardless of sugar quantity and has higher chemical stability to moisture and heat than HM pectins [12].

NH pectin

Pectin NH is pectin made from apples that are commonly used in fruit glazes and fillings. It’s a form of LM pectin that’s been modified. 

Pectin NH, like any other form of LM pectin, requires calcium to gel, however, it requires less of it. It’s also thermally reversible, meaning it can be melted, set, remelted, and reset multiple times.

Benefits of pectin

Pectin supplementation may provide a range of health benefits. We have listed a few below:

1. Decrease the risk of colon cancer

Pectin has been shown to kill colon cancer cells in test tubes [13].

Furthermore, this fiber aids in the reduction of inflammation and cellular damage that can lead to the creation of colon cancer cells, lowering the risk of colon cancer.

Pectin, according to researchers, can reduce colon cancer risk by binding to and limiting the absorption of galectin-3, which has been linked to an elevated risk of colon cancer [14].

2. Aids with gastrointestinal issues

Pectin, a soluble fiber with distinct gelling properties, assists digestion in several ways.

In the presence of water, soluble fibers gel in the digestive tract. As a result, they soften the stool and reduce constipation by hastening the passage of waste through the digestive tract [15].

Pectin may help with blood sugar and fat levels, cancer cell killing, weight management, and digestion. However, more studies on humans are needed.

3. Promotes healthy weight

Pectin may also help you maintain a healthy weight.

Increased fiber consumption has been associated with a lower risk of becoming overweight or obese in human studies [16].

This is thought to be related to the reasons that fiber fills you up, and most high-fiber foods have fewer calories than low-fiber foods like refined grains.

Substitutes of pectin in the diet

There are various choices for substitutions if you don’t have dry pectin or liquid pectin on hand or can’t find it in a store:

  • Cornstarch: Cornstarch is a natural thickener that can be used in place of pectin.
  • Citrus peels: Citrus peels, particularly the white pith, are naturally high in pectin. 

If you’re preparing fruit jam, the citrus peels will provide a pectin boost without adding too much sugar.

  • Gelatin: For non-vegans or non-vegetarians, gelatin is a plausible option.
  • Chia seeds: They are regarded as a “superfood” since they include protein, omega 3’s, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are one of the most popular healthy replacements for pectin in producing jams.
  • Apples: The apple, as you may know, is one of the fruits with the highest levels of natural pectin. One of the most common sources of commercial pectin is tart green and slightly under ripe apples.
  • Sugar: Finally, you can prepare jams and jellies the old-fashioned approach, which involves boiling them for hours and adding a lot of sugar. 

The main drawback is that you lose a lot of the natural nutrients and wind up eating a lot of extra sugar as a byproduct.

FAQs

Can celiacs eat pectin?

Yes! Pectin is gluten-free and suitable for patients with Celiac disease.

Is pectin in jam gluten-free?

Yes, pectin in jam is gluten-free.

Is real fruit pectin gluten-free?

Yes, real fruit pectin is gluten-free as it comes from a natural source.

Is pectin halal or haram?

Citrus fruits contain pectin, a structural heteropolysaccharide. Pectin is considered halal because it is derived from plants.

Wrapping up

Pectin is a natural gelling agent that is extracted from citrus fruits. It is a widely used ingredient in the food industry especially in making jams and jellies. While pectin has been used for a long time, many people are still not sure if pectin is gluten-free.

If you have gluten intolerance and are wondering if pectin is gluten-free, here’s some good news for you! Regardless of the form, pectin is gluten-free. And if you are still not sure if you want to use pectin in your food, we’ve listed out a few alternatives to pectin too like cornstarch, gelatin, chia seeds, citrus peels, etc.

References

  1. Jones, Amy L. “The Gluten-Free Diet: Fad or Necessity?.” Diabetes spectrum: a publication of the American Diabetes Association vol. 30,2 (2017): 118-123.
  2. Minihane, Anne M et al. “Low-grade inflammation, diet composition and health: current research evidence and its translation.” The British journal of nutrition vol. 114,7 (2015): 999-1012.
  3. Midhagen, G et al. “Antibody levels in adult patients with coeliac disease during gluten-free diet: a rapid initial decrease of clinical importance.” Journal of internal medicine vol. 256,6 (2004): 519-24. 
  4. Wahab, Peter J et al. “Histologic follow-up of people with celiac disease on a gluten-free diet: slow and incomplete recovery.” American journal of clinical pathology vol. 118,3 (2002): 459-63.
  5. Yelland, Gregory W. “Gluten-induced cognitive impairment (“brain fog”) in coeliac disease.” Journal of gastroenterology and hepatology vol. 32 Suppl 1 (2017): 90-93.
  6. Freeman, Hugh James. “Iron deficiency anemia in celiac disease.” World journal of gastroenterology vol. 21,31 (2015): 9233-8. 
  7. Norström, Fredrik et al. “A gluten-free diet effectively reduces symptoms and health care consumption in a Swedish celiac disease population.” BMC gastroenterology vol. 12 125 (2012).
  8. Vici, Giorgia et al. “Gluten free diet and nutrient deficiencies: A review.” Clinical nutrition (Edinburgh, Scotland) vol. 35,6 (2016): 1236-1241. 
  9. Chutkan, Robynne et al. “Viscous versus nonviscous soluble fiber supplements: mechanisms and evidence for fiber-specific health benefits.” Journal of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners vol. 24,8 (2012): 476-87. 
  10. Hyson, Dianne A. “A comprehensive review of apples and apple components and their relationship to human health.” Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.) vol. 2,5 (2011): 408-20.
  11. Wikiera, Agnieszka et al. “Prozdrowotne właściwości pektyn” [Health-promoting properties of pectin]. Postepy higieny i medycyny doswiadczalnej (Online) vol. 68 (2014): 590-6.
  12. Lara-Espinoza, Claudia et al. “Pectin and Pectin-Based Composite Materials: Beyond Food Texture.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 23,4 (2018): 942.
  13. Almeida, Elizângela A M S et al. “Synthesis and characterization of pectin derivative with antitumor property against Caco-2 colon cancer cells.” Carbohydrate polymers vol. 115 (2015): 139-45. 
  14. Prado, Samira Bernardino Ramos do et al. “Chelate-soluble pectin fraction from papaya pulp interacts with galectin-3 and inhibits colon cancer cell proliferation.” International journal of biological macromolecules vol. 126 (2019): 170-178. 
  15. McRorie, Johnson W Jr, and Nicola M McKeown. “Understanding the Physics of Functional Fibers in the Gastrointestinal Tract: An Evidence-Based Approach to Resolving Enduring Misconceptions about Insoluble and Soluble Fiber.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics vol. 117,2 (2017): 251-264.
  16.  Solah, Vicky A et al. “Effect of Fibre Supplementation on Body Weight and  Composition, Frequency of Eating and Dietary  Choice in Overweight Individuals.” Nutrients vol. 9,2 (2017): 149.
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