Is Pectin Vegan Friendly? (Yes, Here’s Why)

Extracted from the fiber found in fruits, pectin is often used as a thickening or gelling agent for jams, jellies, and many other food products. You may even see it on the label for some fiber supplements. For those following a plant-based, vegan diet, is pectin considered vegan-friendly?

Yes, pectin is a vegan-friendly food product because it is made exclusively from fruits. All forms of pectin are suitable for those on a vegan diet. However, not all food products that contain added pectin are vegan-friendly. The best vegan-friendly alternatives to chia seeds include GFO Organic Arrowroot Starch, Viva Naturals Psyllium Husk, and Bob’s Red Mill Flaxseed Meal.

Now that we know pectin is okay for those following a vegan diet, let’s take a deeper look into the potential health benefits and drawbacks of pectin as well as some vegan-friendly alternatives.

Pectin versus Gelatin

Both pectin and gelatin dissolve in water to form a gel once cooled. However, gelatin is made from various animal products, such as bones, skin, and connective tissue. Gelatin contains mostly protein from these animal products, while pectin is derived from fruit and is made up of mainly carbohydrates. Gelatin is easier to use in a wide variety of food products because it does not need sugar or acid to form a gel, while pectin does [1].

Food Sources of Pectin

Pectin is made from the flesh and skin of various fruits [2]. You can find pectin in the highest concentrations in:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Apples
  • Carrots
  • Apricots
  • Plums

Health Benefits of Pectin

Pectin is mainly composed of carbohydrates from soluble fiber and can be found in a variety of fiber supplements. Soluble fiber has been shown to impart several health benefits including helping to relieve constipation, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal ailments, reducing cholesterol and triglyceride levels, improving blood sugar, and promoting a healthy weight [3].

The soluble fiber in pectin can help to slow digestion and increase fullness during meals which can help individuals to maintain a healthy weight and potentially aid in weight loss. That same fiber binds onto cholesterol in the small intestines and removes it from our body through our waste, helping to reduce our cholesterol levels and the risk of developing heart disease. Researchers continue to study the impressive health benefits of this unique fiber and its mechanism of action [3].

Health Drawbacks of Pectin

Consuming pectin as a dietary supplement or in food products does not have any known significant health risks. However, it could result in side effects for some. If consumed in high amounts, or combined with other forms of fiber, pectin can cause gas, bloating, and abdominal discomfort. If you are allergic to any citrus fruits or apples, be sure to check food labels for the type of pectin used as it could result in an allergic reaction.

Some small studies have found a connection between pectin intake a reduced absorption of beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A. Unfortunately, most of these studies on humans are limited and further research is needed. Those with chronic conditions who are considering taking a pectin supplement should speak with their health care provider [4].

Nutrition Facts for Pectin

Pectin can often be found in either liquid or powder form. Both forms of pectin contain little to no vitamins and minerals. Pectin’s main source of calories comes from carbohydrates from indigestible fibers.

Nutrition Facts (Per 50 grams):

  • Calories 162
  • Fat 0.2g
  • Saturated fat 0g
  • Sodium 100mg
  • Carbohydrates 45g
  • Sugar 0g
    • Added sugar 0g
  • Fiber 4.3g
  • Protein 0.2g

Healthy Vegan Alternatives to Pectin

For those who are looking for alternatives to pectin in foods, below are some healthy, all-natural alternatives that provide similar gelling and thickening characteristics. Not all of these alternatives will provide the same gelling properties of pectin but can be used as an alternative for a variety of recipes in replacement of pectin.

Public Goods Raw Organic Chia Seeds

One of the closest gelling agents to pectin is chia seeds, such as Public Goods Raw Organic Chia Seeds. These seeds are well-known for their characteristic swelling which provides a base for popular items such as chia pudding. Chia seeds are rich in soluble fiber, about 10 grams per 1-ounce serving, like pectin. This soluble fiber content is what draws water in and creates that unique texture.

Because of their high soluble fiber content, chia seeds are very filling and can be more versatile when compared to pectin. They can be added to jams and jellies, smoothies, desserts, and more. Aside from their fiber content, chia seeds are a rich source of omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants which can provide a myriad of health benefits. They are more nutrient-dense than pectin, containing a high number of essential vitamins and minerals. You can find this product online at priced at $3.95 for an 11-ounce bag [5].

Nutrition Facts (Per 3-tablespoons):

  • Calories 150
  • Fat 9g
  • Saturated fat 1g
  • Sodium 0mg
  • Carbohydrates 13g
  • Sugar 0g
    • Added sugar 0g
  • Fiber 10g
  • Protein 5g

Bob’s Red Mill Finely Ground Tapioca Flour

Bob's Red Mill Finely Ground Tapioca Flour, 16-ounce Made from the starch of the cassava root, a tuber, or root vegetable like the potato, tapioca is commonly found in gluten-free products. It is a versatile ingredient in cooking and baking as a thickening agent. When compared to pectin, tapioca contains more essential nutrients however, its main nutrient is starch. This is what gives tapioca its thickening properties and is often used as a substitute for corn starch in food products.

Tapioca, such as Bob’s Red Mill Finely Ground Tapioca Flour, is a great alternative for those with restricted diets. Because it is naturally gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, and vegan, it is suitable for those who struggle with allergies to these foods. You can find this product in-store or online at various retail sites, including, priced at $3.65 for a 16-ounce bag.

Nutrition Facts (Per ¼ cup):

  • Calories 110
  • Fat 0g
  • Saturated fat 0g
  • Sodium 0mg
  • Carbohydrates 27g
  • Sugar 0g
    • Added sugar 0g
  • Fiber 0g
  • Protein 0g

FGO Organic Arrowroot Powder

Organic Arrowroot Powder (Flour) | 2x 1 Pound Resealable Kraft Bags (32oz / 2 lbs Total) | 100% Raw From Thailand | by FGO Another natural, vegan-friendly alternative to pectin is arrowroot. It is similar in consistency to tapioca and works well as a thickener for soups and sauces. Arrowroot is a high starch root vegetable like the potato, which gives it its thickening properties.  It thickens food at a lower temperature than flour or cornstarch and contains more protein than pectin.

Arrowroot, such as FGO Organic Arrowroot Powder, is rich in potassium, phosphorous, iron, and B-vitamins and contains more protein than most similar root vegetables, all of which pectin is lacking. The starch in arrowroot provides a high dose of soluble fibers, like pectin but in lower amounts. A diet rich in soluble fiber can help to decrease the risk of various chronic diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. You can find this product online at, priced at $9.99 for a 16-ounce bag [6, 2].

Nutrition Facts (Per 1-cup):

  • Calories 78
  • Fat 0g
  • Saturated fat 0g
  • Sodium 31mg
  • Carbohydrates 16g
  • Sugar 0g
    • Added sugar 0g
  • Fiber 2g
  • Protein 5g

Viva Naturals Organic Psyllium Husk Powder

Psyllium Husk Powder Organic (1.5 lbs) - Easy Mixing Fiber Powder, Finely Ground & Non-GMO Fiber Supplements to Promote Regularity, Perfect for Gluten-Free Baking, 24 oz Psyllium husk is an excellent source of soluble fiber that comes from the seeds of the Plantago Ovata plant. At 70% soluble fiber content, it is mainly used as a bulk-forming laxative in dietary supplements, such as the popular Metamucil. Because of its high soluble fiber content, it works as a gelling agent that is often added to bars and other health food products to increase fiber content and adjust consistency. You can find Viva Naturals Organic Psyllium Husk Powder online at priced at $14.99 for a 24-ounce bag [7].

Nutrition Facts (Per 1-teaspoon):

  • Calories 20
  • Fat 0g
  • Saturated fat 0g
  • Sodium 0mg
  • Carbohydrates 4g
  • Sugar 0g
    • Added sugar 0g
  • Fiber 4g
  • Protein 0g

Bob’s Red Mill Golden Flaxseed Meal

Bob's Red Mill Golden Flaxseed Meal, 16 oz, 2 pk Like chia seeds, flaxseeds have a similar thickening power when mixed with liquids however, they work best when they are ground into flour or a meal, such as Bob’s Red Mill Golden Flaxseed Meal. The outer shell of the seed is hard to digest. It is also more challenging for a liquid to penetrate for gelling to occur. Flaxseed is readily available in ground form or can be ground at home using a food processor or blender.

Flax seeds are rich in omega 3s, soluble fiber, and plant-based protein. They are versatile, like chia seeds, and incredibly nutrient-dense when compared to pectin. They may not be suitable for all recipes to replace pectin, but they work especially well in baked goods. You can find this product in-store or online at various retailers, including Publix and Walmart, priced at $3.95 for a 16-ounce bag.

Nutrition Facts (Per 1-tablespoon, whole):

  • Calories 55
  • Fat 4g
  • Saturated fat 0g
  • Sodium 0mg
  • Carbohydrates 3g
  • Sugar 0g
    • Added sugar 0g
  • Fiber 3g
  • Protein 2g

Related Questions

Is Pectin Gluten-Free?

Pectin is commonly derived from apple or citrus peels and is considered a 100% gluten-free ingredient. If purchasing pectin for use at home, always check the allergy information to ensure the product is not processed in a facility that also processes gluten-containing products. Pectin is typically safe for those following a gluten-free diet.

Does Pectin Cause Inflammation?

Pectin is a water-soluble dietary fiber that can provide anti-inflammatory benefits on its own. Pectin is considered a prebiotic that can help to support a healthy gut and several studies have shown pectin to help regulate intestinal inflammation. However, the foods that pectin is consumed with can determine its overall benefit. For example, pectin is often added to jams, jellies, and baked goods which if consumed in high amounts can increase inflammation [8].

Is Pectin Good for Diabetics?

Soluble fiber, such as that found in pectin, has shown to be beneficial in managing blood sugar levels for those with diabetes. The soluble fiber in pectin creates a gel that helps to slow down the absorption of glucose in our body for the lower, more controlled rise and fall of blood sugar levels. However, the benefits of supplemental pectin are not currently clear and further research is still needed [9].

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Meghan Stoops

Meghan Stoops is a Registered Dietitian and Licensed Nutritionist born and raised in San Jose, California. Growing up she struggled with disordered eating and poor self-image. On a journey to learn to love herself, she discovered a passion for nutrition and dietetics. Dedicated to helping others learn the healing powers of food, Meghan uses the platform of writing to help make nutrition simple for everyone.

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