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Does Apple Pectin Help You lose Weight?

The key to a healthy and sustainable weight cut is diet and exercise.

Being aware of the overall energy and nutrients that fuel your body can make or break a good diet. You can train hard every day but without the right foods and nutrients you just can’t succeed.

An apple a day might keep the doctor away, but could the fiber from this fruit be the key to weight loss?

In this article we take a look…


Apples and Pectin

Apples are a highly nutritious food containing a range of essential vitamins and minerals. They provide you with a good source of carbohydrates as well as vitamin C, potassium and 9% of your daily fiber needs.

The fruit contains Pectin – a natural source of dietary fiber found in the skin, core and seeds of apples. You’ll also find it in citrus fruit as well such as plums, pears and guavas too.

Pectin is commonly used as a gelling agent and stabilizing additive in jams, jellies, fruit juices and sweets. It is also used in medications such as throat lozenges, laxatives as well.

Around the 1920s pectin was largely obtained from the peel of dried apples and other fruits using industrial techniques. From there it could be made commercially available as a liquid.

More recently though you’ll find it more in powder form. This is mostly as it’s easier to store and lasts longer. That makes it a more sell-able supplement.



Pectin and Health

As the old saying goes, ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’. And the reason for that might be down to pectin.

Fiber is an important part of health, but the average American just doesn’t get enough in their diet – only ~15 g per day. The American Heart Association suggest that you should obtain double this amount – 25-30 g per day [1].

The two types of fiber

Whilst insoluble fiber helps to move food through your digestive tract and adds bulk to your waste, insoluble fiber helps to slow digestion.

Pectin is a type of insoluble fiber which helps bind cholesterol in the gut and reduce how much is absorbed into the bloodstream. It does this by forming a gel-like substance which slows digestion time down, allowing optimized absorption of nutrients.

Health improvements

Studies have found that 15 g per day of the fiber can reduce lipid digestion which can decrease cholesterol levels [2].

Pectin may also reduce colon cancer risk and prevent intestinal tumors too.

For example, a study published in Carbohydrate Polymers [3] found that introducing pectin kills off cancer cells via a process called apoptosis.

Pectin-rich diets have also been found to treat diabetes. A diet rich in soluble fiber helps to stabilize your blood sugar which can make you feel fuller for longer. This can lead to reduced calorie intake too.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition [4] found that a diet that contains 20 g per day of pectin leads to better glucose tolerance and a 43% delay in gastric emptying – both markers of improved blood sugar management.



Pectin and Weight Loss

With the potential to manage blood sugar and delay gastric emptying, pectin might help with weight loss.

Fiber should form a part of the diet for anyone wanting to lose weight. Current dietary guidelines suggest that fiber can help to [5]:

  • Decrease hunger
  • Reduce daily energy intake
  • Increase post-meal satiety
  • Potentially improve body composition

As a water soluble source of fiber, pectin has the potential to achieve all of this as well as helping you to absorb essential nutrients to boost health.

The Studies – Does Pectin Boost Weight Loss

A small-scale study of 29 volunteers published in 2014 looked at the effects of 10 g of various pectin-based drinks. They wanted to see its effects on appetite and energy intake [6].

They found that appetite was reduced in some pectin supplements, but without differences in energy intake. This meant that the study subjects felt fuller when ingesting the same amount of calories – definitely useful for weight loss, but by no means groundbreaking results.

What they did find though was that bulkier types of pectin (as found in foods such as apples) did help to reduce energy intake.

Another study, again published by the same research team, found that both satiety and energy intake were positively affected even after a single dose of pectin [6]. 

32 subjects were asked to eat a pectin-rich food once a day for 15 days. Each meal contained the same amount of calories and 10 g of the fiber source.

The group reported feeling less desire to eat, but only by 2% though – not exactly a lot. They also said that they felt fuller too – but only by 1.4%.

Although the effects were only small, they were consistent though across volunteers. The study however did only use normal weight subjects – the effects might be different on overweight individuals.

Current guidelines on dietary fibre – effects on weight loss

One large scale study [5] reported that when dietary fiber was increased, energy intake decreased by 10%. Via a collection of independent studies, review data also found that weight loss of 1.9 kg over a 4 month period was be achieved. 

The review also states that these results can also be achieved by simply reducing fat in the diet from 38% to 24%. This means that pectin isn’t necessary to achieve all of its reported benefits. A simple dietary modification can do the job too.

Lastly, the research team concluded that pectin fiber is best from naturally high-fiber foods. 



Should You Use Natural Pectin or a Supplement?

The dried powder version of pectin will lack many of the natural vitamins and minerals found in fruit. Natural, pectin-rich foods such as apples will provide much more holistic nutrition than powdered alternatives.

You can pick up fruit fairly cheap whereas some pectin supplements can be quite expensive. For the minimal benefits you’re likely to get from a supplement of this type, we suggest just getting more fruit in your diet and focusing your attention on a supplement that will have a more direct effect on your body composition instead.


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References

  1. Artinian, NT et al. Interventions to Promote Physical Activity and Dietary Lifestyle Changes for Cardiovascular Risk Factor Reduction in Adults: A Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2010; 122: 406–441
  2. Espinal-Ruiz, M et al. Interaction of a dietary fiber (pectin) with gastrointestinal components (bile salts, calcium, and lipase): a calorimetry, electrophoresis, and turbidity study. J Agric Food Chem. 2014;62(52): 12620-30
  3. Maxwell, EG et al. Modified sugar beet pectin induces apoptosis of colon cancer cells via an interaction with the neutral sugar side-chains. Carbohydr Polym. 2016; 136: 923-9
  4. Schwartz, SE et al. Sustained pectin ingestion: effect on gastric emptying and glucose tolerance in non-insulin-dependent diabetic patients. Am J Clin Nutr. 1988; 48(6): 1413-7
  5. Howarth, NC et al. Dietary fiber and weight reduction. Nutr Rev. 2001; 59(5): 129-39
  6. Wanders, AJ et al. Pectin is not pectin: a randomized trial on the effect of different physicochemical properties of dietary fiber on appetite and energy intake. Physiol Behav. 2014; 128: 212-9
  7. Wanders, AJ et al. Satiety and energy intake after single and repeated exposure to gel-forming dietary fiber: post-ingestive effects. Int J Obes (Lond). 2014; 38(6): 794-800


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