When you fantasize about desserts, gelatin doesn’t usually come to mind, but it may be time to reconsider how we think about this food. From athletes to those who suffer from osteoarthritis, more and more people are discovering the healing properties of gelatin, such as relief for joint pains, accelerated healing of injuries, improved quality of sleep, better digestion, and more. So, can this dessert be truly this beneficial to our health? Nutritionist Laura Schoenfeld has the answers:
What is Gelatin and Where Does it Come From?
Gelatin is produced from collagen extracted from animal connective tissues. During the manufacturing process, the collagen is dried and then ground into a powder, and combined with flavorings, coloring, and sugar to give it that final form.
Both types share health benefits, so choosing which one to get is purely a personal choice.
Is There a Vegan Option?
In nature, gelatin is produced in animals, so “vegan” versions are often produced from ingredients such as carrageenan, which don’t have the same benefits, and can even cause intestinal problems if consumed in large quantities.
How Much Gelatin Should I Eat?
If you’re eating the powdered form, two tablespoons a day will suffice. If you take it in pill form, follow the instructions on the packaging or consult your doctor.
What Makes Gelatin So Healthy?
Gelatin is rich in a variety of amino acids, including glycine - a compound that is not very common in other foods. While these amino acids are not considered essential nutrients (meaning that your body can survive without them), they become essential in times of sickness or stress. This is particularly important for older people, pregnant women, people who suffer from joint or bone problems, people with an active lifestyle and people who eat a lot of meat.
What are Gelatin’s Health Benefits?
1. Protection for people with a meat-rich diet: Some studies suggest that glycine helps in counteracting the side effects of methionine – an amino acid found in meat that can neutralize the beneficial effects of B vitamins, and increase the risk of heart disease and certain kinds of cancer.
2. Promotes intestinal health: The amino acids in gelatin help build the intestinal walls, an aid that is particularly beneficial for those who damaged these walls through poor diet choices, consumption of certain medications, and pre-existing health conditions.
3. Beneficial for joint health: Our bodies can repurpose the gelatin in order to rebuild collagen, cartilage, and other connective tissues in our joints. Furthermore, studies have found that athletes who regularly add gelatin to their diet experience less joint pains compared to those who don’t consume it.
4. Improves skin and nail health: Our skin and nails need collagen to stay healthy, and as stated before, gelatin can be used to rebuild collagen, making skin more elastic and nails stronger.
5. Builds muscle mass: Gelatin is an excellent source of protein, which is what the muscles need in order to grow. It is particularly beneficial for people who are beginning a new exercise regime, as well as those who are trying to build muscle mass.
So Should I Eat More Jelly / Jell-O?
In one word – yes. But note that the boxed kind are often full of artificial preservatives, colorings, and sweeteners, all of which are not too good for you. Instead, you should opt for regular gelatin, and add it to tea.
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