Jello is a popular dessert, particularly among kids. It’s low in calories, but is Jello healthy? Find out.
Kids and adults alike enjoy the soft, jiggly texture and sweet taste of Jello on a hot summer day. Because Jello contains gelatin, some people believe this tasty dessert treat has health benefits. Is Jello healthy?
Is Jello Healthy: What’s Good about It?
The biggest advantage to eating Jello is it offers the taste of sweet without a lot of calories. A single serving has only eighty calories, and if you buy the sugar-free version, there’s only ten fat-free calories in a single dish. When you compare this to the calories and fat in most cakes and cookies, Jello seems to be a healthier option? But is it?
Is Jello Healthy: What’s Bad about It?
Jello brand gelatin comes in a variety of colors and flavors. The problem is the food color and flavorings that give Jello its tongue-pleasing taste are all artificial. Then, there’s the sweetener issue. If you buy the sugar-sweetened version of Jello, its sweetness comes from nineteen grams of sugar. What about sugar-free Jello? You can buy it sweetened with Splenda, but aspartame or acesulfame are more commonly used, which some experts question the safety of. Jello is also fairly high in salt at around 80 milligrams of sodium per serving.
The four main ingredients in this colorful dessert are water, gelatin, sweetener, and food coloring – which means it’s pretty devoid of nutritional value. Some people point out that gelatin is a protein, which helps to strengthen hair and nails. The reality is gelatin contains only non-essential amino acids, which the body can already make on its own. It lacks the more important essential amino acids that have to come from diet, so the protein in gelatin is of little benefit.
Some small studies show that gelatin reduces joint pain in athletes and helps to repair minor cartilage damage. The only problem is these studies used gelatin supplements which contained much higher concentrations than what’s found in a bowl of Jello. You’d have to eat a lot of Jello to get any real joint health benefits.
The Bottom Line?
Jello is low in calories, but it contains artificial flavorings and food coloring – and little nutritional value. One way to eat a more nutritious version of a gelatin dessert is to buy plain gelatin and make your own “Jello” using unsweetened fruit juice. You can find recipes for this online.
Ball State University website. “Gelatin found to reduce joint pain in athletes”
Nutrition Data website