Benefits of Gelatin (And how to get it in your diet)

Benefits of Gelatin (And how to get it in your diet)

I remember the first time someone told me the “secret” ingredient in Jell-O. I was pretty young. My older brother, in an attempt to gross me out, informed me that the jiggly green stuff on my plate was made from ground up bones and horse hooves. Needless to say, I was grossed out. And to be honest, being grossed out by the store-bought Jell-o “stuff” is okay… because it is pretty gross. Food dyes, processed sugars, and gelatin from sick animals. No thanks. But the truth is that real gelatin… the pure, unflavored stuff… when it comes from healthy grass-fed animals, is really healthy stuff. Like really.

A thought on animal consumption

Before I jump in to all the benefits of gelatin I want to first say a word to my vegetarian and vegan friends: Clearly this post is probably not for you. And hopefully we can still be friends despite our differences. Keep in mind that whenever I promote the eating of any sort of animal products that I do so with reverence and awareness of the sacrifice it represents.

I do not condone factory farming. I don’t believe animals should be abused or put in sickly conditions. I am horrified by mainstream practices when it comes to animal food. We can stand firmly together on that.

But I do believe that we humans are part of the circle of life, and that animals consume other animals. For my own health and the health of my children I do choose to eat animals. I’ve experimented without and the health consequences weren’t right for me. You don’t have to agree with me, but hopefully we can have mutual respect for our differences.

Did you know that gelatin provides LOTS of health benefits? Check it out.

What is Gelatin?

Gelatin comes from the structural protein collagen found in many animals. This collagen is a fibrous protein that strengthens the body’s connective tissues and makes up almost one-third of the human body.

As you get older, your body makes less collagen, and individual fibers become increasingly cross-linked with each other. You might experience this as stiff joints from less flexible tendons, or wrinkles due to loss of skin elasticity. Gelatin can come from the collagen in cow or pig bones, hides, and connective tissues. (source)

Because gelatin is largely composed of the amino acids glycine and proline (something that most people don’t get enough of), adding gelatin to your diet can help your body in many ways:

Benefits of gelatin

These are just some of the benefits associated with gelatin.

  • Gelatin improves hair quality, growth, and texture. (Want shiny, strong hair naturally? Take your gelatin!)
  • Gelatin can help with the aging process. As we age our bodies make less collagen and gelatin provides more elasticity!
  • Gelatin has been shown to improve nail strength and growth.
  • Gelatin has been shown to help digestion and even heal digestive disorders.
  • Gelatin can help with overall joint and bone health (and reduce arthritis pain).
  • Gelatin is a cost-effective and nutritious way to get more protein in your diet. (I especially love slipping gelatin in homemade fruit snacks, smoothies, and yogurt pops to help my picky two year old get the protein she needs. Note: It is not a complete protein so it shouldn’t be your only source for protein.)
  • Gelatin has also been shown to help you sleep better. (I can attest to this one myself, but here’s more proof if you want it).
  • It’s also been associated with improved metabolism, reduced cellulite, and as a treatment for non-seasonal allergies.

Pretty cool, right?

Of course, for some the idea of eating “animal bones and connective tissue” still seems kind of gross. And really, I think that just goes to show how removed we are from the food we eat. Nobody (at least no meat eaters) seems to bat an eye when ordering a steak. But in our world that has made “meat” our main source of animal protein we forget that traditionally people would use as much of the animal as possible. Not only does that show more respect for the sacrifice of animal life, but there is SO MUCH nutrition to be gained from the non-fleshy parts of the animal. (Liver, anyone?)

Consider this:

When we eat animal proteins in the traditional ways (for example, eating fish head soup, as well as the muscles, or “head-cheese” as well as pork chops, and chicken-foot soup as well as drumsticks), we assimilate a large amount of glycine and gelatin. This whole-animal balance of amino acids supports all sorts of biological process, including a balanced growth of children’s tissues and organs. – Ray Peat

When we only consume muscle meats, on the other hand, the amino acid balance that enters the blood stream is the same that is produced by extreme stress. Consuming gelatin/glycine based foods actually has an “anti-stress” reaction for the body.

Check it out:

 Glycine is recognized as an “inhibitory” neurotransmitter, and promotes natural sleep. Used as a supplement, it has helped to promote recovery from strokes and seizures, and to improve learning and memory. But in every type of cell, it apparently has the same kind of quieting, protective antistress action. The range of injuries produced by an excess of tryptophan and serotonin seems to be prevented or corrected by a generous supply of glycine. Fibrosis, free radical damage, inflammation, cell death from ATP depletion or calcium overload, mitochondrial damage, diabetes, etc., can be prevented or alleviated by glycine. -Ray Peat

And since gelatin is a RICH source of glycine it’s a great supplement to take with that steak or whatever other “meat only” meal you may be having.

Did you know that gelatin provides LOTS of health benefits? Check it out.

What’s the best gelatin?

This is my favorite brand of gelatin. It comes from pastured-raised, grass-fed cows. I love to use this kind when making homemade fruit snacks or jell-o. This kind is perfect as a true supplement because it dissolves easily in cold liquids. I’ll add it to smoothies, OJ, or just water. I have both in my pantry. Always.

People often ask me if the gelatin in the baking aisle at Walmart is just as good… and I personally wouldn’t recommend it as a supplement. Animals store toxins, hormones, medications, and whatnot in the body. Plus I’d love to see less people support factory farming since it’s ruining the environment and devastating to the animals. If you can’t afford the quality stuff consider making lots of homemade broths and stocks. Another great way to get the benefits that gelatin provides in your diet.

Do you love gelatin? What’s your favorite recipe to use it in?

 

 

 

Sources:
http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/gelatin.shtml
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.14798425.2007.00262.x/abstract;jsessioni=0B0ADC541923709FED7B5894E8E1E51E.d02t04
http://www.diynatural.com/benefits-of-gelatin-in-your-diet/
http://www.foodrenegade.com/gelatin-healthy-protein-powder/

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About the author

Hi! I'm and I’m passionate about healthy living: feeling nourished, having energy, getting good sleep, and feeling strong. I believe healthy living does not have to be complicated or stressful. I’m a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT) and a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst (CLMA). I’m also an avid researcher and love to read about nutrition, the body, and toxic-free living. Learn more.

View all articles by Robin Konie

50 comments

  1. Sandy

    Thanks for this post! I thought all gelatin did was change texture, so I wasn’t in any hurry to spend money on it, but now I’ve ordered some and can’t wait to make fruit snacks (and more). I’m still learning a lot of new things about eating healthy and your blog has been a huge help!

  2. Constandina

    Thank you so much for this article !! I discovered your site a couple of weeks ago and I love everything you post !! What got me interested initially was your natural fruit snacks recipe…I LOVE fruit snacks but I gave them up (the store bought ones) because I am committed to a healthier life/eating style. I ordered some Great Lakes Gelatin and I have made them several times and I love love love them!!! I am experimenting more and more with the gelatin and it’s fun!! I agree with everything you posted about respecting and revering the sacrifice of the animal life we must consume. Bless you for sharing with us !!!!! xo

    1. Susan P

      What recipe do you use for fruit snacks? I have some gelatin and am trying to find uses for it other than just taking it plain. I enjoy the idea of adding it into other foods. I need suggestions! I need to heal my gut and I keep reading how beneficial gelatin is for that too. I’m on my second day of taking it.

  3. Lea

    Robin, I bought this gelatin for a recipe you had but now I have A LOT of gelatin. Can I search for recipes via this blog that use gelatin? I have no idea what to do with it all. Please help.


    1. Post author
      Robin Konie

      There’s LOTS you can do with gelatin. I actually have a post that will be up next with with healthy snack ideas and there’s a whole section on gelatin recipes. If you need something sooner, I’d start with Butter Believer (butterbeliever.com) as she’s quite the queen of gelatin. :)

  4. Mimi

    Tomato aspic was very popular in the 1950s. I enjoyed making it in the 1970s until I became a vegetarian for 25 years. My Ukrainian grandparents always had a pan of “kholodets,” which roughly translates to “something chilled” in their fridge. It’s aspic, but never looked appetizing to me, since it is clear gelatin with really fatty bits of meat in it. It was a product of the healthy, waste-not, want-not farmers’ way of eating. Sounds like a good idea and I’m going to find my Ukrainian cookbook and see how it’s made.

  5. Kim

    Thanks for sharing. What is the difference between the two kinds shown in your photo? I saw a few other kinds on Amazon as well.


    1. Post author
      Robin Konie

      The red bottle will “set up” like in fruit snacks and jello. It doesn’t dissolve as easily in cold or room temperature liquids. The green can will easily dissolve and is perfect for adding to smoothies, juice, milk, or whatever as a supplement. But it is not good for jello or things that want a “gelatin” texture.

  6. Susan P

    I SO appreciate your comments about the different kinds of gelatin. I have the red kind above and frankly the texture in liquids sort of grosses me out. I’m not a “jello shot” kind of gal. I’ve been drinking lemon water in the mornings to detox and figured why not add some gelatin to it. But the beef flavor and the texture was sort of making me gag. (It doesn’t in things that are SUPPOSED to have a gelatin texture)I’m going to order the green stuff right away. I can add it other things with more flavor and maybe I won’t notice the taste as much. I’ve been putting 1T into probably 8 oz lemon water. Is that too much? How many times a day should one have gelatin (I’m trying to heal a leaky gut and this is one aspect I’m incorporating) I understand you aren’t doctors but frankly, doctors haven’t been too helpful so I’m looking for answers from people who have experience in this area. THANKS!


    1. Post author
      Robin Konie

      The bottle recommends one tablespoon taken twice a day, so you should be fine. And yes, the green bottle is SO much better as a supplement. I didn’t realize this at first either, but so glad because it’s so much better to add without the weird texture stuff going on. :)

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  8. chris

    I’m a it puzzled by the green vs red can. I have been using the red can. I, too, have leaky gut and digestive issues I am trying to heal after learning I have Celiac disease. Why is the green better as a supplement? I understand it dissolves differently, but what is the actual difference? Is it better for healing leaky gut? Thanks!!!


    1. Post author
      Robin Konie

      As far a nutritional benefits there really isn’t a difference. It just is easier in terms of adding to any liquid you want to supplement your diet with gelatin. But the stuff in the red can works, too, and is the kind you want IF you want to make actual “jello” like foods. :)

  9. mary

    I use the red can. I don’t taste it at all, and I even like the texture! What I do is mix a tablespoon in some cold water, with some raw honey, then I add boiling water and a Tazo teabag – usually the Chun Mee Green tea in the morning, and their Rest brand or some chamomile at night. I’ve been doing this for about 2 months now, and yesterday when I was visiting my daughter, she asked me how I got my skin to looking so good! She said it looks firmer! I told her “gelatin”!!


    1. Post author
      Robin Konie

      I don’t know anything about that brand, but it looks promising just at first glance.

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  11. jenn

    Does anyone know of a grass fed gelatin sold in Canada, either online or in store? Thanks!


    1. Post author
      Robin Konie

      Not sure. You can find it through Amazon, but not sure how shipping would translate.

  12. Nat Davis

    Thanks for posting! I found a recipe on another blog a while back for real fruit snacks, and I so wanted to make them for my family. But the link included in the post was for gelatin that cost FIFTY BUCKS for a small can! I can’t afford to spend nearly that much, so I’m so glad you posted this! I just might be able to work it in there… maybe. One question though- do you know of a way I can MAKE it? That would REALLY help! I do make my own broth/gelatin, but I’m wondering how I can make the kind to use in jello. That would be SO much more affordable, since I’m always making broth! Please help! Thanks! :)


    1. Post author
      Robin Konie

      That’s a great question. I don’t know off the top of my head, but there’s got to be someone in the wide web that does, right?

      1. Nat Davis

        You would think, but I haven’t found anything at all! I’ve found a LOT on how to make broth, and mine does gel up quite nicely, but can’t find anything on how to make gelatin for desserts! :(

  13. Carol Ann

    Can you give me some idea how long 1 can would last if taking 2 tablespoons a day? Just checked on Amazon UK and they didn’t have any, looked at another site where they order for their clinic but also sell to individuals, where it is £30.00 a can. Can’t afford it at the moment but if it goes a fair way would be happy to get it in the future. Thought I could use in my turmeric milk, which I take morning and at night. Thank you for your info, can verify that it works to strengthen nails as used as a teenager but only used the supermarket type as was before I knew better. Thanks again for your informative article!


    1. Post author
      Robin Konie

      Man, I wish I would have kept better track. I can’t say for sure, but I would think it would last you a few weeks. The 16 oz. can says it has 25 servings with 1 Tbs being a serving, so if you took 2 Tbs it should last you about two weeks. But even if you can’t take that much a day, it still is beneficial. I probably only get 1 Tbs MOST days. :)

  14. Jenn D

    Sorry if this has been asked before, but what is the difference between the green & orange? I live in Kiev, Ukraine right now and am going home to the US to visit and want to bring this back. I’ll probably only be able to bring back one, so wanted to know which one is better all-around? Thank You!


    1. Post author
      Robin Konie

      The orange is a pork (non-kosher) version that is similar to the red (bovine or beef and kosher) gelatin. This is the kind you want if you are looking to make fruitsnacks or jello. It will not dissolve as easily in liquids without warm water but it’s what gives that firmness to whatever you put it in.

      The green version dissolves much easier in any liquid and is perfect if you just want to add gelatin to your drinks, soups, etc. But it won’t give you that jell-o-like consistency.

  15. KG

    Hello! Great post… I’m wondering if anyone knows of a UK equivalent to Great Lakes, it’s really hard to get here, I’ve had no luck so far… If I do find a supplier they tend to be out of stock & it’s crazy expensive.
    Not even trusty Amazon can help me!
    Thanks x


    1. Post author
      Robin Konie

      Hmmm… wish I knew. Maybe if you ask on my facebook wall another reader might know.

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  18. Peta

    I was making a dessert jelly from canned crushed unsweetened pineapple diluted with an equal quantity of water and tahini by the spoonful. The gelatine was added to part of the warm water and that then added to the others, mixed well, and set in the fridge.
    Your article has reminded me to do it again.
    Maybe apple juice would also work instead of the pineapple, or cherry juice, yum.

  19. Aenn

    I guess the one I bought isn’t the one advisable for cooking…I’ve tried it so far in tea and coffee but would like to make it with jam. (I’ve made jam before, but without pectin). Can you recommend a good recipe using this type if gelatin?


    1. Post author
      Robin Konie

      I put it in my smootihes, juice, pancake batter… you can really sneak it in a lot of places. :)

      1. Aenn

        Oh ok, thanks for the ideas. I have been googling how to use it, but most recipes don’t specify what type of gelatin they use..since I got the hydrolyzed version I wanted to be sure it could be used (and maintain nutrutional benefits) in cooking, not just added to drinks. :)

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  21. Amanda

    I put about a Tbsp. of this in my coffee every morning. I’ve used porcine and bovine and I’ve loved the results. It’s a super easy way to get gelatin everyday.

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