Fit and Well Logo

Our Policies About Us Contact Us

Home > Diet & Food > Healthy Eating >
Gelatin: Nutrition and Health Benefits

Gelatin: Nutrition and Health Benefits

What Is Gelatin Good For? Uses and More

By | Updated .

checked symbolFact Checked

Fact Checked


All the content published in our website is fact checked to validate its accuracy.
Visit our guidelines web page to learn more about our strict processes regarding how we review our content's sources: reliable and reputable journals, media websites, universities, colleges, organizations, and professionals.
Our articles are based on scientific evidence, and the references are included in its footnotes, which are clickable links to sound scientific papers.

First published: 14.Oct.2023

Overview: Gelatin

Gelatin is a food consisting of protein obtained from animal collagen. It is used extensively as a thickening agent in foods, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.

As it lacks fat and carbohydrates, it is a great complement for weight-loss diet programs, low-carb, high-protein and ketogenic diets. It also has some health benefits.

In this Article (Index)

red gelatin in cubes, in a glass
Gelatin. Source

What is Gelatin?

Gelatin is a pure protein obtained from animal collagen. It is colorless and has no taste.

It is made from animal raw materials such as pork, poultry, cattle and fish through a process that extracts the collagenous protein from tendons, ligaments, cartilage, skin, scales, and bones.

There is no such thing as a vegan or plant-origin gelatin containing collagen or collagen-derived proteins. Plant options are gelatinous-like substances that serve as alternatives to jelly.

What is Collagen?

Collagen is a protein found in animals. It is the most abundant protein in your body: 30% of your body's total protein is collagen.

It plays a vital role in providing structure, and coherence to your body, it is the "glue" that holds it together. Its name comes from the Greek word κολλα (kólla) meaning "glue" and γενης (genes) or "producer", because boiling bones and cartilage produced glue.

Collagen's unique structure

Collagen protein has a unique shape, it forms a rod-like triple helix that acts as a flexible yet strong microscopic fiber, pictured below.

These tiny fibers group together parallel to each other forming microfibrils, fibrils and fibers that make up the structure of tendons and ligaments. This shape gives them tensile strength to support your body.

Collagen is found in the skin, hair, bones, teeth, muscles, tendons, ligaments, and scar tissue, it can also be found supporting the cells in organs, intestines, and blood vessels.

Like all proteins, collagen is made by the body, combining amino acids and linking them into longer molecules called polypeptids, it combins polypeptid chains to form molecules. Your body builds collagen with three aminoacids: proline, glycine and hydroxyproline.

Your body obtains them by breaking down protein that you ingest with your meals and makes collagen with the help of vitamin C, zinc, manganese and copper.

fiber, fibril and collagen in a diagram
Fiber, fibril, microfibril and collagen. A. Whittall

Collagen: Read More

> > Collagen, all you need to know.

A short history of gelatin

Since ancient times, glue made by boiling bones, hide and tendons has been used as a strong adhesive. French inventor Denis Papin (1647-1712) created what he called a "digestor" that could soften bone and cook food using steam under pressure, he described in a book published in 1681 and it inspired further research into making gelatinous glues. The first English "letter of patent" was issued in 1754 covering a "kind of glue called fish glue."

The name gelatin originated from the French word gélatine, that came from the latin word gelaer: to freeze, due to its icy appearance.

During the Napoleonic wars, the French considered feeding the hungry and the poor with gelatin, they knew it was rich in nitrogen-based compounds (now we know this means it has aminoacids and therefore protein) they knew it was nurishing so they appointed a Gelatin Commission to evaluate its properties.

François Magendie (1783 – 1855) conducted experiments feeding dogs a gelatin diet in 1816. They all lost weight, developed corneal ulcers and died. The Commission concluded that gelatin wasn't a "complete" food. What they didn't know was that the dogs were dying from lack of vitamin A, not found in gelatin and only discovered in 1912 by English biochemist Frederick Gowland Hopkins (1861-1947).

The glue-making process became well known and expanded to America where Peter Cooper (1791-1883) purchased a glue factory in New York City in 1822. Cooper experimented with the gelatins he produced and in 1845 he patented (US patent 4084) a gelatin dessert powder, a palatable unflavored gelatin that could be combined with fruit juices and sugar to prepare desserts.

Pearl Wait bought the patent in 1895 and his wife renamed it "Jell-O."

How is gelatine made?

The gelatin manufacture process begins with premium raw materials: the remains and byproducts of the animals that have been processed for the meat industry. They are therefore subject to the same quality standards as the beef, pork or poulty processing industry (1).

Roughly 40% of global gelatin production is made from pork skins, 30% comes from a collagen layer found under the skin of cattle, and the remaining 30% is based on fish, pig, cattle, and chicken connective tissue.

These raw materials are pretreated to remove fat and minerals either using an alkaline process, for bovine materials, that lasts several weeks or an acid porcess for pork, that takes one day.

The solubilized collagen is neutralized and rinsed with warm water and goes through a multi-stage extraction process using hot water.

The extracted collagen is filtered to remove any remains of fat or fiber and it is purified to remove any residual acids, salts and minerals.

The liquid purified collagen is thickened and concentrated using vacuum into a honey-like viscous product that is then sterilized, cooled and dried into "jelly noodles" that are then ground into granules or powder.

Gelatin Nutrition Facts

Below is the Jell-O orange jelly powder light nutrition information, it is based on a serving of 1⁄2 cup (125 g) or 1⁄4 pouch (2.6 g). This gelatine has no added sugar (2).

Other than gelatin, the product may contain added sugars, flavoring and colorants (strawberry, orange, cherry, red, yellow, etc) and adipic acid, a compound that lets jelly jiggle but still hold its shape; adipic acid adds texture it is found naturally in beet juice.

Nutrients in Gelatin

Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.



% Daily Value



- -

Total Fat



Saturated Fat



Trans Fat













1 g





Gelatine does not contain any significant amount of fats, fiber, vitamins, or minerals. The sodium mentioned above comes from sodium phosphate and sodium citrate used as antioxidant and acidity regulators.

Its three main components are proline, hydroxyproline and glycine, that form the collagen and make up roughly half of its aminoacid content. The remaining 50% is composed of other aminoacids such as alanine 10%; arginine 8%; aspartic acid 7%, and glutamic acid 12%.
However, from a nutritional point of view it isn't a complete protein because it lacks the essential aminoacid tryptophan, that can't be synthesized by the body; it is also deficient in methionine, threonine, and isoleucine.

No Carbohydrates

Gelatin naturally contains no carbohydrates, no starch or sugars unless. Gelatin is sweetened by adding sugar or sweeteners (low calory option).

The lack of carbohydrates means it will not cause surges in blood sugar levels and that it can become part of a Ketogenic Diet or a Low Carb Diet.

Gelatin can be added to soups and stews as a thickener instead of using flour at a ratio of 1 1⁄2 teaspoons (tsp) of gelatin per cup of stock. This is a healthy option for those following a Gluten-Free Diet.

Low Calorie Food

With about 10 calories per cup, and none of them coming from carbohydrates or fats, it is a great alternative to add to your low-calorie eating program.

Helps to keep you hydrated

Considering how gelatin is prepared, with one pouch of gelatin (10 g or 0.35 oz) in 4 cups of water, eating gelatin will help keep hydrated, as each cup of prepared gelatin is 99% water.

Health Benefits of Gelatin

Joint Health

Gelatin is a denatured variety of collagen, and it does not have the characteristic triple helix structure of collagen. The heat, alkalis and acids used in its production have broken collagen into a mixture of polypeptide chains (mid-sized chunks of protein) that have a digestibility rate as high as 98%.

Interestingly gelatin has anti-inflammatory properties that are displayed after it is broken down into its aminoacid components by the digestive system. Aminoacid glycine is an anti-inflammatory agent and the prolyl‐hydroxyproline (Pro‐Hyp) aminoacid molecules inhibit cytokine production when they are absorbed in the colon (3).

Gelatin is a very low cost option to help support your body's collagen production. A small scale trial in young healthy men found that drinking 15 g of gelatin dissolved in a low calorie beverage with vitamin C before exercising, showed that this supplementation improved circulating glycine, proline and hydroxyproline suggesting it can increase collagen synthesis and "play a beneficial role in injury prevention and tissue repair" (4).

Weight loss aid, helps reduce hunger

Several studies have showed that increasing the protein content of a diet increases satiety and also the energy expended by the body. Both of which could play a role in a weight loss diet.

The evidence of clinical trials is limited. Two studies by Hochstenbach-Waelen et al., show that "gelatin resulted in a greater appetite suppression", but it does not last long: "appetite reduction seen with short-term gelatin feeding does not carry over in the longer term" in comparison to milk protein (casein) over an 8-week weight loss period (5)(6).

Allergies and side effects

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers gelatin as "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS).
However, there are reports of cases of gelatin allergy (7) and a study has shown that "Most patients allergic to red meat were sensitized to gelatin" (8).

References and Further Reading

(1) Gelatin, GROW – Gelatin Representatives of the World. Accessed Oct. 14, 2023

(2) Jell-O orange jelly powder light. Accessed Oct. 14, 2023

(3) Zhu S, Huang M, Feng G, Miao Y, Wu H, Zeng M, Lo YM.(2018). Gelatin versus its two major degradation products, prolyl-hydroxyproline and glycine, as supportive therapy in experimental colitis in mice. Food Sci Nutr. 2018 Apr 16;6(4):1023-1031. doi: 10.1002/fsn3.639. PMID: 29983966

(4) Shaw G, Lee-Barthel A, Ross ML, Wang B, Baar K. (2016). Vitamin C-enriched gelatin supplementation before intermittent activity augments collagen synthesis. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017 Jan;105(1):136-143. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.116.138594. Epub 2016 Nov 16. PMID: 27852613

(5) Hochstenbach-Waelen A, Westerterp-Plantenga MS, Veldhorst MA, Westerterp KR. (2009). Single-protein casein and gelatin diets affect energy expenditure similarly but substrate balance and appetite differently in adults, J Nutr. 2009 Dec;139(12):2285-92. doi: 10.3945/jn.109.110403. Epub 2009 Oct 28. PMID: 19864402

(6) Hochstenbach-Waelen A, Soenen S, Westerterp KR, Westerterp-Plantenga MS. (2011). Effects of a supra-sustained gelatin-milk protein diet compared with (supra-)sustained milk protein diets on body-weight loss, Br J Nutr. 2011 May;105(9):1388-98. doi: 10.1017/S0007114510005106. Epub 2011 Jan 28. PMID: 21272400

(7) W. Keefe, S. Farzan, (2021). Gelatin allergy implicated in intraoperative anaphylaxis following use of gelatin-based hemostatic agent, Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 127:5

(8) Mullins RJ, James H, Platts-Mills TA, Commins S., (2012). Relationship between red meat allergy and sensitization to gelatin and galactose-α-1,3-galactose, J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2012 May;129(5):1334-1342.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2012.02.038. Epub 2012 Apr 3. PMID: 22480538

About this Article

Gelatin: Nutrition and Health Benefits, A. Whittall

©2023, 14 Oct. 2023. Update scheduled for 14 Oct. 2025.

Tags: collagen, gelatin, arthritis, diets, weight loss

More Articles: Read on

slim woman waist showing between a top and a pair of jeans

Waist Size Matters

Health risks of a large waistline: A Large Waist size, waist-to-hip ratio, and waist circumference are indicators of obesity, belly fat and an increased risk of dying soner. Learn the health risks of a large waistline


garlic cloves on wooden table

Garlic's Health Benefits

Garlic, a spice, ingredient has health benefits for treating many conditions, from cancer to warts. Learn its medical uses, science based facts on its properties and risks


tumeric root and yellow powder

Tumeric spicy and healthy

Antioxidant-rich tumeric is natural anti-inflammatory, it contains curcumin (a polyphenol) that protects againts cancer, has antifungal properties and prevents "leaky gut"


Health Advice and Advertisements Disclaimer

The material appearing on is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

We do not endorse products or services that are advertised on the web site. Advertisers and advertisements that appear on this website are served by a third party advertising company.


Our Social Media

visit our Facebook click to send us an e-mail visit our blog follow us on Instagram


Terms & Conditions

Privacy Policy

Affiliate Disclosure

Advertisement Policy

Don't Sell my Personal Information

Cookie Policy

Publishing Ethics

Editorial Guidelines

Medical Disclaimer


About Us

Contact Us


Site Map

Patagonia Wellness
Liniers 440, B1602 Florida, Buenos Aires, Argentina


Copyright © 2018 - 2023 Patagonia Wellness. All rights reserved.

Fit and Well: Health, Fitness, Diet & Food information website
Our website is a reliable source of up-to-date, scientifically proven information on health, fitness, wellbeing, diet, food, and nutrition.
Our mission: Educate and inspire with reflective evidence-based reasoning. Information and News that you can trust.

Last updated V.1