Is Jello Healthy? Hear It From The Experts

The gelatin in your fun and jiggly dessert can benefit your health in many surprising ways.

Medically reviewed by Dr Archana Batra, CDE
Written by Sindhu Koganti, Certified Health & Nutrition Life Coach
Edited by Ravi Teja Tadimalla, Professional Certificate In Food, Nutrition & Health
Fact-checked by Aparna Mallampalli, BEd (Biological Sciences), MSc (Microbiology), Diploma In Nutrition  • 

That sweet, jiggly, colored dessert on the supermarket shelves may always grab your attention. It is jello (Jell-O), a gelatin-based dessert, sold in ready-to-eat or powdered form. It is a trademark of Kraft foods which manufactures jello, puddings, and other gelatin desserts. This fat-free snack is a favorite option for many who want to lose weight.

But is jello really healthy to eat? Is Jello good for you? What happens when you overeat jello loaded with high sugar and artificial flavorings, synthetic dyes, and sweeteners? Here, we answer all your questions and also discuss how you can make your own jello at home. Keep reading.

protip_icon Know Your Ingredient: Jello

What Is It?
A gel-like, sweet, and colorful product made of gelatin, which is extracted from the skin and bones of cows and pigs.

What Are Its Benefits?
It may help improve bone health and digestion and provide energy.

Who Can Use It?
Anyone can consume it except people who follow a vegetarian and vegan diet to satisfy their sweet tooth cravings.

How Often?
Avoid daily consumption of jello as it is filled with calories.

Caution
Avoid jello if you have diabetes and gelatin allergy. It may also increase the risk of mad cow disease if the manufacturer did not follow the FDA safety guidelines.

Jello Nutrition Facts

A display of bowls of jello in different flavors
Image: Shutterstock

Half a cup of jello gelatin (135g) contains (1):

  • Calories: 84
  • Carbohydrates: 19g
  • Sugar: 18g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Protein: 1.6g
  • Sodium: 101 mg
  • Potassium: 1.4 mg

Jello is high in sugar and contains low concentrations of vitamins and minerals essential to maintaining optimal health. So, is jello healthy at all? Let us find out.

Is Jello Healthy?

Portioning jello to have in controlled amounts as too much of it is unhealthy due to high calorie content
Image: Shutterstock

Portion-controlled jellos are convenient if you aim to lose weight. But they are high in sugar and low in protein and fiber (besides offering fewer vitamins and minerals). Hence, jellos could be unhealthy and their intake must be limited. Even sugar-free jellos contain artificial sweeteners like aspartame, whose high intake may cause oxidative stress and cell membrane damage and potentially lead to systemic inflammation (2).

protip_icon Did You Know?
Peter Cooper, one of the owners of Ringwood Manor and a mechanic, created the first edible gelatin or jello with sweetened flavors. He received the patent for gelatin powder in 1845.

However, the primary ingredient used in making jello — gelatin — has some benefits. It is a colorless, flavorless gelling agent extracted from collagen taken from the body parts of animals. How does gelatin benefit your health?

1) May ImproveBone Health

Consuming 5 grams of specific collagen peptides for 12 months daily was found to improve age-related bone mineral density in postmenopausal women. It may also improve bone formation and decrease bone degradation (3). Besides, athletes supplemented with collagen hydrolysate for 24 weeks experienced a reduction in joint pain (4). Hence, the gelatin in jello may potentially help prevent the deterioration of joints. However, more direct research is warranted in this regard.

2) May Help With Weight Loss

Long-term intake of gelatin diet may suppress hunger. A study by Maastricht University (The Netherlands) found that gelatin intake had increased appetite suppression and reduced energy intake (5). Another study suggests that consuming a gelatin meal may also help maximize satiety in obese individuals (6). This, in turn, could curb overeating and induce weight loss.

Besides, oral supplementation of collagen peptides may help improve collagen density in the dermis layer and skin moisture, and reduce skin aging effects (7). However, limited research is available to prove this claim.

But the collagen content in jello is very low to reap its benefits. Also, eating sugar-rich jellos made with artificial colors and flavorings may cause certain side effects. Let us find out what they are.

Possible Side Effects Of Jello

Bloating of the stomach caused by eating too much jello
Image: IStock

Christine VanDoren, a nutritionist, says, “When you eat jello regularly, you may feel both positive and negative effects of it. The gelatin in the jello can help with your digestion, ease joint pain, improve sleep quality, and increase your bone strength. On the other end, it has also been known to cause bloating and heartburn. It is important to be aware that many people have a gelatin allergy, so proceed with caution if you have never consumed gelatin before.”

Added sugars (artificial sweeteners) are linked with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity, diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and cognitive decline (8). If you want to go with sugar-free jello, the sweetener aspartame may cause inflammation and damage cells (2). A study by Cesare Maltoni Cancer Research Center (Italy) indicated that aspartame may exhibit carcinogenic effects (9). These sweeteners may also increase your sugar cravings (10).

Jello also contains many artificial colors that may have harmful effects on your health. A review published in the Environmental Health Perspectives suggests that three dyes — red 40, yellow 5, and yellow 6 — account for 90% of the dyes used in foods in the US. These dyes contain benzidine, which may increase cancer risk (11). Sugar dyes may also cause behavioral changes in children if the color doses exceed 50 mg. However, these dosages vary between brands. Moreover, some people may experience allergic reactions after consuming gelatin-based products (12). Stop the intake and consult your doctor if you experience any such reactions.

You can also prepare jello easily at home with natural ingredients. Here are a few simple steps to follow.

How To Prepare Jello Easily At Home?

Jello mix poured into silicone molds to create jello in fun shapes
Image: IStock

What You Need

  • Apple juice – 2 cups
  • Pomegranate juice – 2 cups
  • Unsweetened dry powdered gelatin – 2 tablespoons

Process

  1. Pour 2 cups (one cup each) of the juice into a bowl.
  2. Sprinkle the gelatin and let it sit for five minutes (to soften).
  3. Bring the remaining 2 cups of the juice to a boil.
  4. Pour the hot juice into the bowl and stir to combine and dissolve the gelatin.
  5. Pour into a 9 x 12 baking pan.
  6. Refrigerate until firm (for several hours).
  7. Cube and serve plain or with whipped cream.

protip_icon Quick Tip
Alternatively, you can add the juice of one lemon and one cup of orange juice to make orange jello.

Most manufacturers use several artificial ingredients in jello to get the desired color, flavor, and taste. Let us understand what these nutrients are.

What Are The Ingredients Used In Jello Preparation?

Ingredients for making jello
Image: IStock

Jello is a mix of gelatin, water, food colorings, artificial sweeteners (aspartame, a calorie-free synthetic sweetener), and flavoring agents. Gelatin gives the wiggly texture to jello.

Some brands produce jellos with natural colors (extracted from carrots or beetroots). Most jello brands, however, opt for synthetic colors and artificial flavoring agents. Check the ingredients list on the label if you want to buy jello with natural coloring agents.
Note: Jello is not a vegetarian or vegan dessert as it is made from gelatin extracted from boiled bones, connective tissues, and other animal products.

Infographic: Possible Side Effects Of Jello

Jello is a ready-to-eat, sweet gelatin-based product. It has its own set of benefits if consumed in moderation. However, excess consumption of jello may cause adverse effects. We have rounded up the possible side effects of jello in the infographic below! Scroll down to know more!

possible side effects of jello (infographic)

Illustration: StyleCraze Design Team

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Jello is a delicious sugar-rich dessert that soothes your sweet tooth. While it is tasty to eat and has low calories and no fat, overindulgence is not recommended as it is loaded with artificial sweeteners. Jello’s nutritional benefits are few and are related to its collagen and gelatin. It may boost bone health, aid in weight loss, or may improve hair, nail, and skin health, but overconsumption may lead to an increased risk of chronic disorders. The additives present in jello may increase the risk of cardiovascular disorders, inflammation, gastrointestinal issues, and even cancer. It is recommended that you prepare jello at home with an array of natural fruit juices to avoid these health complications.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Jello good for your gut?

There is not enough scientific evidence to suggest that Jello is good for your gut.

Is Jello good for your brain?

Maybe. The gelatin present in Jello may have neuroprotective effects (13).

Is Jello keto-friendly?

No. Jello is highly processed and packed with added sugars and is not allowed on a keto diet.

Is Jello anti-inflammatory?

Maybe. The gelatin present in Jello has anti-inflammatory effects

(14).

Key Takeaways

  • The health benefits of jello can be attributed to its primary ingredient, gelatin.
  • Gelatin may improve bone health and aid in weight loss
  • But the artificial colors and sweeteners added to jello are bad for the health, so limited consumption is advised.

Check out this video to learn how to make delicious jelly right at home with this easy-to-follow recipe. From fruity flavors to creative molds, enjoy the fun and satisfaction of making your own homemade jello!

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Jello Gelatin
    https://www.nutritionix.com/food/jello-gelatin
  2. Revisiting the safety of aspartame
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28938797/
  3. Specific Collagen Peptides Improve Bone Mineral Density and Bone Markers in Postmenopausal Women-A Randomized Controlled Study
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29337906/
  4. 24-Week study on the use of collagen hydrolysate as a dietary supplement in athletes with activity-related joint pain
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18416885/
  5. Single-protein casein and gelatin diets affect energy expenditure similarly but substrate balance and appetite differently in adults
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19864402/
  6. Oral ingestion of a hydrolyzed gelatin meal in subjects with normal weight and in obese patients: Postprandial effect on circulating gut peptides
    glucose and insulin
  7. The effect of oral collagen peptide supplementation on skin moisture and the dermal collagen network: evidence from an ex vivo model and randomized
    placebo-controlled clinical trials
  8. Relationship between Added Sugars Consumption and Chronic Disease Risk Factors: Current Understanding
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC5133084/
  9. The carcinogenic effects of aspartame: The urgent need for regulatory re-evaluation
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24436139/
  10. Gain weight by “going diet?” Artificial sweeteners and the neurobiology of sugar cravings
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC2892765/
  11. DIET AND NUTRITION: The Artificial Food Dye Blues
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC2957945/
  12. Anaphylactic shock after sensitization to gelatin
    https://academic.oup.com/bja/article/107/4/647/228262
  13. Gelatin promotes rapid restoration of the blood brain barrier after acute brain injury
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29037893/
  14. The Anti-Inflammatory Effect of Bovine Bone-Gelatin-Derived Peptides in LPS-Induced RAW264.7 Macrophages Cells and Dextran Sulfate Sodium-Induced C57BL/6 Mice
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9003490/
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