Gelatin brings to mind a flavored, colorful dessert. However, gelatin is also a common ingredient in soups, broths, sauces, gummy candies, marshmallows, cosmetics, and medications.
1. Healthy body tissuesA 240-gram (g) cup of a gelatin dessert provides 0.82 g of protein. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015–2020 recommend that adults consume 46–56 g of protein or 10–35% of their daily calorie intake each day, depending on their age and sex. Protein is a macronutrient, which means the body needs significant amounts of it to function. Proteins are essential for:
- building and maintaining body tissues
- the proper functioning of various organs
2. Skin careCollagen gives skin its healthy and youthful appearance. As people age, they lose collagen. Their skin becomes less firm, and wrinkles and lines develop. Gelatin may be a natural way to boost collagen and improve the skin’s appearance. A 2016 study found that consuming collagen improved facial moisture and reduced wrinkles in humans. However, experts are not sure that consuming gelatin would have the same effect.
3. DigestionGelatin contains glutamic acid, a substance that may help promote a healthy mucosal lining in the stomach. This could help with digestion. It may also help digestion by stimulating the production of gastric juices. Gelatin also binds to water, which might help food move through the digestive system.
4. Easing joint painThe collagen in gelatin may decrease joint pain associated with inflammation. According to the National Library of Medicine, some clinical studies indicate gelatin may reduce pain and improve joint function in people with osteoarthritis. However, further research is needed.
5. Managing blood sugarOne study has indicated that glycine, which is an amino acid in gelatin, may help people with type 2 diabetes manage their condition. People who took glycine as a treatment saw a fall in their A1C levels and inflammation, suggesting that glycine may help prevent complications, such as tissue damage. However, some gelatin based products, such as gummy candies, have a high sugar content. These are not a suitable source of gelatin for people with type 2 diabetes.
6. Bone strengthGelatin contains lysine, which helps strengthen the bones. It also helps the body absorb calcium, which helps keep the bones strong and prevents bone loss. Some people consume gelatin to reduce their risk of osteoporosis, which causes bones to become weak or brittle. A 2001 study found no significant difference in bone density between mice who consumed gelatin and those who consumed another protein source. However, other research, published in 2017, found that when rats with a magnesium deficiency consumed gelatin, this had a positive impact on one aspect of bone density. However, more research is necessary to confirm whether eating gelatin can improve bone health. .
7. Sleep qualityThe glycine in gelatin may improve sleep quality in some people. In a study published in 2006, people who took 3 grams (g) of glycine around bedtime reported sleeping better and feeling more lively and clear headed in the morning. The following year, a more detailed study confirmed the findings and suggested that glycine could play a role as a sleep enhancer. However, the studies did not recommend consuming gelatin to improve sleep.
8. Weight lossSome scientists have suggested that gelatin may help promote weight loss due to its high protein levels and low calorie content. Protein helps people feel full, making them less likely to overeat. However, a 2011 study that compared the effects of consuming a gelatin-milk protein diet with another milk protein diet did not find that people lost more weight with the gelatin option. In addition, some sources of gelatin, such as chewy candies and marshmallows, have a high sugar content. People should opt for healthful, low-sugar sources of gelatin where possible.
9. HairSome people take gelatin capsules in the hope that the lysine it contains will improve hair growth. In 2004, scientists observed a significant increase in hair shaft length after mice took a gelatin derivative for 10 days. However, this does not guarantee that taking gelatin capsules will improve a person’s hair growth.
10. NailsIn the 1950s, various studies suggested that consuming gelatin may help prevent brittle nails. However, no current evidence appears to support this use.
Mousses and jelloGelatin can add shape and texture to sweet and savory mousses and jello. To use gelatin powder, it is first necessary to “bloom” it in cold water, then add hot water to dissolve it. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for timing and quantities. Using more water will give a softer consistency.
Homemade stockPeople can make gelatin-rich broth at home by cooking the leftover carcass or bones of poultry or beef. For extra flavor, add a whole carrot and onion and some herbs before cooking. Cover the bones with water, bring to the boil, and allow to simmer for 1–2 hours. Check from time to time to ensure it does not boil dry, and add extra water if necessary. When the broth cools, the person will see a gel-substance on the surface. They can use this at once as the basis of a soup or stew, or freeze it for future use. Using up leftovers in this way can also help the environment by reducing food waste.
- the health of the animal it comes from
- the method of processing
- the other ingredients in a dish or product
Will gelatin in the diet really provide enough goodness to make a difference?