Jello has been in the market for more than a century now. Knowing some quick facts about this food substance helps you make an informed decision whether or not to include the food in your diet.
Today, more than ever, people are increasingly becoming concerned about losing weight and having a particular admirable look. In such a quest, low-calorie foods are critical. Jello is one such food people on a low-calorie diet go for. Besides being a famous low-calorie serving, jello is closely associated with hospital trays and school lunches. What do you need to know about this food component featured in the American menus since 1897? Dive into this article to learn about this substance’s ingredients, health benefits, and downsides, if any.
Understanding Jello and its primary ingredient
The first question we answer about jello has to do with what this sweet food actually is. Jello is a jiggly sweet food substance with a gel-like texture that’s made from gelatin. Gelatin is a form of protein that’s the primary ingredient in bones, ligaments, and tendons, all of which are bounded by connective tissues.
How is gelatin made?
Gelatin originates from the hides and hooves of animals, basically cows and pigs. The hooves and hides undergo a series of processes, starting with boiling, drying, acid or base treatment, and ends with filtering that filters off collage. Once the preliminary stages result in collagen extraction, the resulting collagen is dried. After the drying, it is ground to make powder. Sifting then follows in which pure gelatin is obtained. Some claims state the gelatin is prepared from the hooves of horses. However, that can’t be it since horses’ hooves are made of a keratin protein, yet gelatin cannot form from keratin.
Jello is available for serving in two forms. The gelatin prepared by the steps described above is made into a powdered mix. Such a mix is available in online stores where you can buy the mix and prepare jello at home. Alternatively, you can get cup-sized servings of jello with the powdered mix already made drinkable at the point of sales. When you prefer preparing your jello serving at the comfort of your home instead of buying the cup-sized jello servings, you will need to add the powdered mix to boiling water. As the mix boils, the forces holding collagen together break. After this, let the hot food cool off for the broken bonds to reform when the temperature drops. The reforming of bonds traps water inside, giving jello its jiggly gel-like texture.
Which other ingredients make up Jello?
Of course, the primary ingredient in jello is gelatin. However, to make this food as sweet and natural as it is, many things come in. colorings, flavorings, and sweetening agents come into the picture. Most jellos have aspartame as their main sweetening agent. Aspartame is an artificial sweetener but very low in calories. Besides aspartame, artificial flavors are also used in jello. Gelatin alone is not sufficient to give jello a natural flavor. Therefore, artificial flavors that imitate natural flavors are used. These are consistently mixed until the final desired natural flavor is attained. Food colorings are also used in making jello. Both natural and artificial food colorings are used. Since the demand for natural products keeps rising, jello manufacturers now incorporate beets and carrots as natural colorings, although many artificial coloring agents are also in force.
Artificial food dyes are common coloring agents in manufacturing jello. For instance, in preparing Strawberry Jell-O, the manufacturers use gelatin, fumaric acid, sugar, adipic acid, disodium phosphate, artificial flavor, sodium citrate, and red dye #40. Even the Sugar-free Black Cherry Jell-O features similar ingredients. The only difference is that instead of sugar as the primary sweetening agent, it uses aspartame. Besides, it contains maltodextrin from corn and blue dye #1. Just like many industries, many manufacturers are producing different jello and jello products in their line. To be sure about what you are consuming, be sure to read the labels to know the ingredients in your favorite jello. Jello is not a vegetarian option since gelatin is an animal protein. However, several vegetarian jello products and desserts exist, including those made with carrageenan or seaweed agar.
Is jello healthy?
If you are looking for something healthy to fit into your diet, it’s definitely not jello. Although it is low in calories, jello contains a lot of sugar. In a 21g serving of jello mix, you get only 80calories but a whopping 18g of sugar. The sugar is high, close to four-and-a-half teaspoons. Besides, this sugar is unhealthy as it lacks fiber. In addition, jello lacks nutrients, and even if you choose the non-sugar jello, you will still be in for food flavorings and colorings, all of which are unhealthy.
Does jello have potential downsides?
If you are a jello enthusiast, you are likely interested in knowing the side effects of eating this food. They are divided into three as follows;
i. Issues with coloring agents
While some coloring agents used in jello are natural, most are artificial and are made from petroleum. Petroleum is meant for gasoline and not human consumption and may risk health problems. Benzidine is a carcinogenic compound, yet it is the primary ingredient in many colorings, including dye # and #40.
ii. Issues with sweetening agents
Other health issues with jello may stem from the artificial sweeteners used in them. Aspartame, a sweetener used in jello, can cause damage to the cells, even making the cells suffer from inflammation. This may be why aspartame is said to possess the potential to cause some forms of cancer, including cancer of the lymphatic system (lymphoma).
iii. Issues with allergic reactions
Since jello contains many artificial substances for coloring, sweetening, and flavoring, it can cause allergic reactions in some people. Besides, some children have recorded allergic reactions after taking gelatin-based immunizations. What’s more, some allergic reactions can be life-threatening. Since jello is also rich in gelatin and can also stir allergic reactions, talking to your allergist would help you understand how to go about the reactions should you opt for jello.
Jello is a sweet food that featured in the American menus starting in 1897. Although the food is sweet and popular, it may not be good for your health. Read this article to know the ingredients in hello and why jello might not be good for you despite being low in calories.