Jam and jelly could help stop the spread of cancer, according to new research.

Researchers found that a gelling agent used in jelly has anti-cancer properties, Sky News reported.

Both contain pectin which blocks the progression of cancer, the U.K.’s Institute of Food Research study found.

Pectin — a natural fiber product found in fruits and vegetables — is widely used in the manufacture of jelly, jam and many other foods, including confectionery, yogurts and milk drinks.

The new research has shown that under the right conditions pectin releases a molecular fragment with anti-cancer properties.

The released fragment binds to galectin 3 (gal3), a protein that influences all stages of cancer progression, including the growth of tumor-nourishing blood vessels and the invasion of cancer cells into body tissue.

The binding with gal3 is thought to affect its ability to promote the growth of cancerous cells, according to the study published in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology Journal.

Professor Vic Morris, who led the study, said the modified pectin used in jellies and jams was likely to produce the anti-cancer effect.

"The treatments used by the food industry to modify pectin would emphasise the release of the fragment we've identified," he said.

At present it is not clear whether unprocessed fruits and vegetables contain pectin in a form that can fight cancer.

Most pectin comes from the peel of citrus fruits and apple pulp.

Click here to read more from Sky News.