Is gelatin the next superfood?

Satiate cravings with this supercharged peanut butter fudge.
Satiate cravings with this supercharged peanut butter fudge. Photo: Benito Martin Photography

The thing with gelatin is that it's not just the stuff that gives Aeroplane jelly its wobble.

Gelatin, in the form of collagen, is one of the building blocks of the body. It's a sort of protein glue that holds our bones together. Fun fact of the day: The term collagen comes from the Greek word for glue – "kolla" – which refers to the old way of making glue from boiling horse carcasses.

Modern gelatin doesn't stray too far from this definition – it's made from boiled-down animal bones, hides and cartilages. Glamorous, eh? But while gelatin might not sound as fashionable as your kales and quinoas, it's fast gaining a "superfood" status. The biggest clue? The ever ubiquitous bone "broth" (which is actually just stock but more on that another time). This broth is made from – you've guessed it – boiled bones.

So what's so healthy about boiled bones, I hear you ask? Well, for starters, collagen makes up nearly one-third of all the protein in our bodies. So it makes sense to "boost" our collagen with gelatin, no? Studies have shown that gelatin has potential to reduce joint stiffness, inflammation and even heal tears in cartilage.

Need a fast 'n' furious source of protein? Gelatin can also help. It contains no fewer than 18 amino acids, all important for muscle growth and recovery. Eat ya heart out, tofu! (Life hack: Gelatin jellies make a great post-gym alternative to those sugar-filled sports gels.)

Not convinced? What about gelatin as a natural beauty remedy? After all, collagen is also the stuff that makes your skin plump and wrinkle-free. But collagen production decreases each year after 25 (thanks Father Time!). Studies have shown that gelatin could help curtail this ageing effect (and it costs a lot less than those fancy wrinkle creams).

Of course the real thing with gelatin – the important one, at least for me – is its gut health benefits. Gelatin can help restore the gut mucosa, the slippery lining that helps get things, uh, moving down there. The gut mucosa also contains antibodies which fight off bacterial nasties – yep, mucus can be a good thing.

On top of this, gelatin is known to help increase gastric juices to break down your food, reduce acid reflux, calm inflammation, satiate cravings, help liver detox and even aid insomnia.

Perhaps, try this: You might want to stay away from sugary pre-made jelly packets, because, you know, sugar. Instead, make gelatin gummies at home – just add (boiling) water. They're super easy and inexpensive, but opt for an ethically sourced, pasture-raised 100 per cent gelatin if you can.

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Sarah Wilson is the founder of I Quit Sugar.


Supercharged peanut butter fudge by Meg Yonson

3½ tbsp gelatin powder

1 cup almond milk

1 cup peanut butter, smooth, unsalted

2 tbsp rice malt syrup

1 pinch sea salt

1. Dissolve the gelatin in ⅓ cup of cold water and let it sit for five minutes until it has become gel-like.

2. Heat the almond milk, peanut butter, rice malt syrup and sea salt in a saucepan until almost boiling. Remove from the heat and stir in the gelatin until it has dissolved.

3. Pour into a 10cm x 15cm glass or plastic container. Refrigerate for one hour, then cut into squares. Store in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week.

Note: Ensure your peanut butter is 100 per cent peanuts with no added sugar. If you're quitting sugar (or just looking to remove all sweeteners) feel free to omit the rice malt syrup from this recipe – we've found it doesn't really need it.

Makes 15 servings

Recipe courtesy of I Quit Sugar.