Arteriosclerosis is triggered by the constriction of blood vessels caused when plaque forms as a result of a high blood cholesterol level. Medication often is prescribed to counter a high cholesterol level but a healthy diet--marked by a high level of soluble dietary fibers--plays an important role in lowering cholesterol.

Product concepts enriched with soluble dietary fibers can combine taste and health. Pectin, mostly known as a thickener and gelling agent, is one such soluble dietary fiber. Studies have shown that pectin has a high potential to significantly lower the "bad"? cholesterol in blood serum1, but maintain the "good" HDL cholesterol, which has a protective function against arteriosclerosis. "With pectin, it is possible to create products that both taste good and improve the health of the consumer," says Frank Mattes, president of Herbstreith Fox USA (Elmsford, N.Y.). The positive effect of pectin is proportional to the blood cholesterol level and, therefore, more beneficial for consumers with increased LDL levels.2

The citrus fiber Herbacel Classic CF 01 has a naturally high content (30%) of soluble fiber. It easily can provide more than traditional fiber products. Classic pectins are ideal products to lower cholesterol and can be obtained from different sources, with different viscosities. Pectin Classic GU 401 USP is a grapefruit pectin derived from grapefruit peels. The apple pectin Classic AU 201 meets the USP criteria. Pectin Classic AU 201 has a very high molecular weight of 80,000 daltons and will provide high viscosity. The low-viscosity pectin Herbapekt SF 50-LV has a molecular weight of 25,000 daltons to assist its cholesterol-reducing functionality. "Due to its low viscosity, it can be used in very high dosages without having a major influence on the texture of the desired product," says Mattes. The range of high-viscous and low-viscous pectin also can be derived from citrus peel.

Pectin is resistant to human digestion, but is almost completely degraded into short-chain fatty acids in the colon by bacteria. Pectin has a reduced tendency to have a laxative effect and stimulates bacterial growth in the colon.

Tablets or powder mixes for beverages benefit from high-methylester pectins. With the appropriate carrier, for example, inulin beverage mixes can easily be incorporated into water, milk or fruit juice. A few servings of an appropriate amount of pectin per day can lower cholesterol levels. Beverages with a low-molecular weight pectin can be enriched with up to 4% pectin. Other possibilities for the application of low-molecular pectin include breads, biscuits and fruit preparations. In acidic products--for example, fruit preparations and beverages--pectin will maintain its function for the period of the shelflife of the product. NS

For more information:
Herbstreith & Fox Inc., Frank Mattes