Kiwifruit pectin show health and wellness potential

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Dietary fiber, Probiotic, Nutrition

Pectin extracted from kiwifruit may boost the levels of beneficial bacteria in the gut and may also be used to microencapsulate probiotics for the health and wellness segment, suggests new research.

According to findings published in the Journal of Functional Foods​, scientists from New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research report that kiwifruit pectin displayed a potential prebiotic activity greater than inulin, the “gold standard in prebiotics”​.

A growing body of science is reporting the potential health benefits of pectin, including a potential prebiotic effect, its important fibre content, and potential cardiovascular benefits by lowering LDL cholesterol.

As health and wellness permeates into all areas of the food industry, regulatory bodies are becoming more severe in their demands relating to 'good for you' ingredients, so pectin producers have remained reticent about embarking on the trail of a health claim.

Extracted pectin (E440) with worldwide production estimated at 35,000 tonnes a year, is currently widely used as gelling agents in jams, confectionary, and bakery fillings, and stabilisers in yoghurts and milk drinks.

The new study, funded by New Zealand Institute for Plant & Food Research, supports the prebiotic potential of the ingredient. Led by Shanthi Parkar, the researchers analysed the potential gut benefits of six different pectins extracted from Actinidia deliciosa​ ‘Hayward’.

Using Caco-2 intestinal cells, the researchers reported that the kiwifruit pectin obtained by re-solubilisation with monopotassium phosphate called monoK pectin performed the best, and this was then chosen for comparison with citrus pectin, guar gum and inulin.

Data showed that monoK pectin was “superior to inulin”​ for boosting the adhesion of Lactobacillus rhamnosus​ and reducing adhesion of the undesirable bacterium Salmonella typhimurium​. On the other hand, only inulin and citrus pectin enhanced the adhesion of Bifidobacterium bifidum​, added the researchers.

The researchers also note that fibre from kiwifruit fibre may be used as microencapsulation material, or act as “bioactive packaging to deliver probiotic bacteria”​.

“It may also provide edible packaging that can be tailored to deliver bioactives such as phytonutrients, vitamins or even pharmaceuticals directly to the gut,”​ they concluded.

Source: Journal of Functional Foods
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.jff.2010.04.009
“Gut health benefits of kiwifruit pectins: Comparison with commercial functional polysaccharides”
Authors: S.G. Parkar, E.L. Redgate, R. Wibisono, X. Luo, E.T.H. Koh, R. Schroder

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