What is gelatin
If you've ever eaten jelly beans or marshmallows, then you've already encountered gelatin. Gelatin is a clear, tasteless protein that thickens and hardens liquid and semi-liquid foods, such as soups and jelly beans with fun shapes.
Gelatin is obtained from animal collagen, usually from the bones, connective tissue, and skin of pigs, cattle, and other animals. Collagen can also be obtained from fish bones. Boiling the bones extracts the protein, which is formed as it cools.
Collagen is the most abundant protein found in humans and animals. It is found almost everywhere in the body but is most common in the skin, bones, tendons, and ligaments. And the gelatin extracted during this process is tasteless and colorless. Dissolves in warm water and acquires a jelly-like texture when cooled. 1
Is gelatin good for health?
Gelatin consists almost entirely of proteins, but does not contain all the essential amino acids. 1 In particular, does not contain the main amino acid Tryptophan. Here are the most common amino acids in gelatin derived from mammals:
- Glycine: 27%
- Proline: 16%
- Valin: 14%
- Hydroxyproline: 14%
- Glutamic acid: 11%
In terms of vitamins and minerals, gelatin is not a source of such, but one can get enough of them through other sources. Therefore, we would say that gelatin is rather useful as it provides important amino acids for various health purposes.
Like collagen, gelatin is useful for preventing intestinal damage and improving the mucous membrane of the digestive tract, thereby preventing high intestinal permeability and the development of IBS syndrome.
Gelatin can improve joint and bone health
In another study, 97 athletes received either a supplement with gelatin or a placebo for 24 weeks. Those who took gelatin had a significant reduction in joint pain, both at rest and during activity, compared to those who received placebo. [Ref. 2]
Gelatin can improve the appearance of skin and hair
Studies conducted on supplements with gelatin show positive results to improve the appearance of the skin and hair.
In one study, women received about 10 grams of pig or fish collagen. They had a 28% increase in skin humidity after eight weeks of pork collagen intake and a 12% increase in humidity after taking fish collagen. [ref. 3]
Other small studies give similar results, as well as report improving hair growth; increase moisture in the skin and other effects.
Helps improve sleep quality
Some studies have shown that gelatin helps people who constantly experience trouble falling asleep, cannot sleep or have an unsatisfactory sleep if they take three grams before bedtime.
Researchers examined the effects of gelatin on subjective sleep quality and found that it improves daytime sleepiness, daytime cognitive functions, sleep quality and sleep efficiency (sleep time/time in bed). It also shortens the time it takes to fall asleep and improves normal sleep architecture. [Ref. 4]
How to use gelatin
Gelatin thickens puddings, yogurt, candy, fruit gelatin desserts, ice cream, panna cotta, marshmallows, and others. It can be mixed with any number of liquids or semi-solid substances to create structure and shape.
Gelatine sold commercially for culinary purposes is purified before it is dried and packaged. In addition to food products, it is also used in personal care products, cosmetics, medicinal capsules, and others.
If you do not feed on animal sources of collagen and gelatin, and consumption of bone broth is also not an option, alternatively you can use gelatin powder.
Using gelatin in recipes helps to add volume and smooth texture without many extra calories. It also increases the protein content by giving the recipe more nutritional benefits.
Here are some general tips on the use of gelatin:
- If you prefer not to make homemade gelatin, products such as dry gelatin powder can be found in health food stores or online.
- Hydrolyzed gelatin powder can be mixed with any kind of liquid, including hot soups, broths, and stews.
- Some people even use it in smoothies or juices.
- You can use instant types of gelatin in recipes (which usually need to be soaked in water to absorb the liquid and acquire a gel-like texture).
- Some types of gelatin powder are soaked in cold water, then dissolved in warm or hot water. This helps the gelatine to swell and then mix in liquid without forming lumps.