Does jello have gelatin?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Does jello have gelatin?” and will discuss is gelatin containing jello is healthy.

Does jello have gelatin?

Yes, jello does have gelatin. Gelatin is the main component of jello. It is derived from the animal collagen that is present in their bones.

What is jello?

There is a lot of gelatin in jello. Gelatin is a natural polymer which is made of hydrolytic degradation of protein from collagen (1). Collagen, the protein that makes up connective tissues including skin, tendons, ligaments, and bones, is used to manufacture gelatin. The extraction of gelatin from collagen requires a boiling state or a hydrolysis reaction (sometimes enzymatic assisted) in order to produce a flavorless and colorless substance, famously known as a gelling agent in food production (1).

Collagen is recovered from animal skins and bones after they have been boiled, dried, treated with a strong acid or base, and then filtered. It is then sifted to manufacture gelatin from the dry collagen, which is powdered into a fine powder, then dried. In general, two different types of gelatin may be produced based on the pre-treatment of collagen: type A gelatin and type B gelatin. Type A is an acid treatment gelatin, that is an isoelectric point at pH 6 to 9 and is most commonly used for the less covalently crosslinked collagen found in pig skin. Type B is an alkaline treatment gelatin which is an isoelectric point at pH 5 and can be applied to more complex collagen found in bovine hides (1).

Jello isn’t manufactured from horse or cow hooves, despite popular belief. This protein, keratin, is found in the hooves of some animals and cannot be turned into gelatin. Pre-made desserts, such as cups of Jello, may be bought in powdered form and then cooked at home.

Boiling water is used to dissolve jello powder in your house. Collagen is held together by covalent connections that are broken by heat. Collagen strands solidify when the mixture cools, trapping water molecules inside. Chemically, gelatin is made up of 18 varieties of complex amino acids, ca. 57% of glycine, proline and hydroxyproline are the major compounds, while the remaining ca. 43% are other distinguished amino acid families such as glutamic acid, alanine, arginine and aspartic acid (1).

Jello ingredients

Packaged jello mixes include sugars, flavoring ingredients, and colorings in addition to the gelatin that gives jello its wiggly texture. Aspartame, an artificial calorie-free sweetener, or sugar are the most common sweeteners in jello.

Jello is often flavored with artificial tastes. Natural flavors are simulated chemically. To obtain the desired taste character, a large number of chemicals are often added.

Natural or synthetic food colorings may be used in jello. Some items, such as beet and carrot juice, are now prepared using natural colorings, thanks to market demand. However, artificial food colors are still used in the production of several jellos.

Synthetic artificial food colors (AFCs) are added to foods and beverages for aesthetic reasons, and the resulting brightly colored products are appealing to young children in particular. In some cases, AFCs serve as substitutes for nutritious ingredients, such as in fruit juice drinks that contain little or no actual fruit. Nine AFCs currently are approved for use in the United States: Blue 1, Blue 2, Green 3, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Red 3, Red 40, Citrus Red 2, and Orange B.129 FDA data indicate that the use of AFCs increased more than fivefold between 1950 and 2012, from 12 to 68 mg per capita per day (2).

Sugar, gelatin, adipic acid, artificial flavor, disodium phosphate, sodium citrate, fumaric acid, and red color #40 are some of the ingredients in Strawberry Jell-O. The ingredients in Sugar-free Black Cherry Jell-O are the same as in regular Black Cherry Jell-O, except aspartame as the sweetener and maize maltodextrin, and blue dye #1.

The only way to be sure what’s in your jello is to check the ingredients on the label since there are so many different jello producers and brands.

Is Jello Safe to Consume?

Because of its low calorie and fat-free content, Jello has long been a diet go-to. But it doesn’t mean that it’s good for you. There are 80 calories in a serving (21 grams of dry mix), 1.6 grams of protein, and around 4.5 teaspoons of sugar in it.

Sugar-free jello prepared with aspartame provides just 13 calories, 1 gram of protein, and no sugar in a single serving (6.4 grams of dry mix). But artificial sweeteners might harm your health. Aside from the fact that it’s low in calories, jello is also devoid of essential elements such as vitamins, minerals, and fiber.

Aspartame (α-aspartyl-l-phenylalanine-o-methyl ester), an artificial sweetener, has been linked to behavioral and cognitive problems. According to research, possible neurophysiological symptoms include learning problems, headache, seizure, migraines, irritable moods, anxiety, depression, and insomnia. The consumption of aspartame, unlike dietary protein, can elevate the levels of phenylalanine and aspartic acid in the brain. These compounds can inhibit the synthesis and release of neurotransmitters, dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin, which are known regulators of neurophysiological activity. Aspartame acts as a chemical stressor by elevating plasma cortisol levels and causing the production of excess free radicals. High cortisol levels and excess free radicals may increase the brain’s vulnerability to oxidative stress which may have adverse effects on neurobehavioral health (3).

Over the last several decades, studies have raised concerns regarding the effect of artificial colorings on child behavior and their role in exacerbating attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder symptoms. Elimination of AFCs from the diet may provide benefits to children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Although the mechanisms of action have not yet been fully elucidated, at least one AFC, Blue 1, may cross the blood-brain barrier (2). In addition, artificial food dyes can cause allergic reactions. 

Gelatin’s health benefits

Despite its lack of nutritional value, gelatin itself may be good for you. Collagen in this product has been studied extensively in both animal and human investigations.

Bone health may benefit from the addition of collagen. An experiment comparing the bone density of postmenopausal women who took collagen peptides (5 grams per day) to those in a control group found that the latter had considerably higher bone density.

Additional benefits include easing joint discomfort. College athletes who took a liquid collagen supplement containing 10 grams per day reported less joint discomfort than those who received a placebo in a modest 24-week trial.

The symptoms of aging on the skin may also be lessened. Women between the ages of 40 and 60 who took a liquid collagen supplement containing 1,000 mg per day for 12 weeks saw improvements in skin hydration, suppleness, and wrinkles.

In a study, patients having a daily oral supplementation with a liquid nutraceutical containing hydrolyzed fish collagen, vitamins, antioxidants and other active ingredients could improve skin texture and elasticity and skin appearance, with a significant increase in skin elasticity, reduction in skin photo-aging. There was also a significant improvement in joint health with reduced joint discomfort and an increase in joint mobility in a subgroup of elderly subjects (51–70 years old) (4).

In contrast to this research, the quantity of collagen in jello is much smaller. It’s quite improbable that consuming jello would have a significant impact on your health.

Aside from that, studies have shown that high-sugar diets speed up the aging process in the skin and promote inflammation in the body, so whatever benefits that jello could have for your joints and skin would be negated by its sugar content (5).

Possible Negative Effects

You may want to think about the potential negative health impacts of jello before you consume it.

Artificial colors

Artificial colors are often used in most jello products. A natural chemical used in the production of gasoline may have severe effects on your health if consumed in large quantities. As benzidine is known to be a carcinogen, the food dyes red #40, yellow 5, and yellow 6 are linked to cancer. Low dosages of these substances are authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, these standards, as well as original safety approval for the color additives, are based on animal studies that do not include neurologic or neurobehavioral end points (2).

Behavioral changes have been linked to the use of artificial colors in children with and without ADHD. Even low doses of artificial food colors have been linked to behavioral changes in some studies, while in others, even low doses of artificial food colors have been linked to behavioral changes (2).

In Europe, for example, foods containing artificial colors must have warning warnings stating that they may induce hyperactivity in youngsters. There is no way to tell how much food color is used in jello since each brand is different.

Toxic Sweeteners

Aspartame and sucralose are used as artificial sweeteners in sugar-free boxed jello. Aspartame has been linked to cell damage and inflammation in both animal and human studies. Aspartame has been linked to a greater risk of cancer in animals, including lymphoma and kidney cancer, at doses as low as 9 mg per pound (20 mg per kg) of body weight. In addition, aspartame may have negative effects in memory, attention, cognitive functions and other neurological expressions. 

After ingestion; aspartame is metabolized in the intestinal lumen into 50% phenylalanine which is involved in neurotransmitter regulation, 40% aspartic acid which is an excitatory neurotransmitter, and 10% methanol. Methanol is further broken down into formaldehyde and formic acid. These metabolites increase substantially with aspartame ingestion. Phenylalanine and aspartic acid cross the blood–brain barrier by increasing membrane permeability and subsequently reducing the production of catecholamines such as dopamine and serotonin in the brain.8 Aspartic acid is associated with the degeneration of astrocytes and neurons (3). 

Although the current ADI is 22.7 mg per pound of body weight, this is substantially lower than that. There are, however, no human investigations on the link between aspartame use and cancer. The gut microbiota has also been demonstrated to be affected by the usage of artificial sweeteners.

There were substantial decreases in beneficial bacteria in the guts of mice given daily doses of sucralose, which is commonly known as Splenda, over 12 weeks. Sucralose’s ADI is 2.3 milligrams per pound (5 mg per kg).

According to research, eating sweeteners that don’t contain calories isn’t an efficient approach to losing weight. The frequent use of artificial sweeteners has been connected to an increase in body mass index. 

Other FAQs about Jello that you may be interested in.

Can you eat expired Jello?

What happens if you eat expired jello?

Can jello go bad?

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Does jello have gelatin?” and discussed if gelatin containing jello is healthy.

References

  1. Alipal, J., et al. A review of gelatin: Properties, sources, process, applications, and commercialisation. Mater Today Proceed, 2021, 42, 240-250. 
  2. Trasande L, Shaffer RM, Sathyanarayana S; Council On Environmental Health. Food Additives and Child Health. Pediatrics, 2018,142, e20181410. 
  3. Choudhary, Arbind Kumar, and Yeong Yeh Lee. Neurophysiological symptoms and aspartame: What is the connection?. Nutr neurosci, 2018, 21, 306-316.
  4. Czajka, Anna, et al. Daily oral supplementation with collagen peptides combined with vitamins and other bioactive compounds improves skin elasticity and has a beneficial effect on joint and general wellbeing. Nutr Res, 2018, 57, 97-108.
  5. Azad MB, Abou-Setta AM, Chauhan BF, et al. Nonnutritive sweeteners and cardiometabolic health: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and prospective cohort studies. CMAJ, 2017, 189, E929-E939. 

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.