Eating jelly, which contains gelatine, can be beneficial. Gelatine can boost the immune system and keep your heart healthy. It can be found in soups, stews and bone broth as well as jelly.
Next time you get the snuffles, forget the honey and lemon. Instead, tuck into a giant bowl of that childhood favourite - jelly.
Why? Because scientists say its core ingredient - gelatine - can give your immune system a powerful boost.
Gelatine, a solid, tasteless protein that’s made from slowly boiling bones (you may have noticed it when you leave meat stock in the fridge and it turns solid and wobbly), is also the secret behind why a bowl of warming chicken soup is good for you - because it is packed with amino acids, such as alanine and serine, which help build a powerful immune system.
Jelly contains gelatine, which can give your immune system a powerful boost and can keep skin youthful
It’s also great for your looks. When you boil bones, the collagen in them breaks down. Then, as it cools, it reforms into gelatine, which has a similar chemical composition. Collagen keeps skin youthful and elastic so, by eating gelatine, you’ll get many of the same benefits.
Jelly is the quickest way to get a boost of gelatine. The gelatine in jelly is also derived from boiling bones, but has added sugar and colouring. If you want a low-calorie version, choose a variety that’s sugar-free.
Alternatively, if you don’t like jelly, you can also make slow-cooked, meaty stocks and soups - the advantage of this is that you’ll also get plenty of protein and vitamins from the meat and veg.
Nutritionist Dr Sam Christie, of health supplements Nature’s Best, says: ‘This confirms what all our grandmothers knew instinctively.
‘When there are lots of winter bugs around, a dense stew or a spoon or two of jelly is a great medicine. Gelatine is packed with protein, which is fantastic for cell renewal.’
So, what else can the wonderful wobbly stuff do? Read on to find out...
ATHLETES’ TIP TO BEAT JOINT PAIN
Gelatine contains the amino acids proline and glycine, which are the building blocks of cartilage. It’s also packed with easily digestible calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon and sulphur, which all work to strengthen our bones.
Studies show therapeutic doses of cartilage from animal bones dramatically improve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, as well as other degenerative joint conditions.
Stews made with red meat contain gelatine, which can reduce the likelihood of a heart attack or stroke
And athletes who were given collagen supplements over six months found they were much less afflicted by joint pains.
‘Gelatine is rich in protein, which helps cell renewal and is a powerful anti-inflammatory,’ says Dr Christie.
KEEP YOUR HEART HEALTHY
Swap your steak for a stew. Most doctors agree that eating a lot of red meat isn’t good for the heart. But if you eat the gelatine as well, you instantly reduce the risk.
This is, again, due to gelatine’s amino acids, including glycine and proline, which counterbalance the amino acid methionine in red meat.
It’s increased levels of methionine that are believed to be a factor in heart disease and stroke, because the methionine produces a by-product called homocysteine.
Too much homocysteine and you are in danger of hardening your arteries.
A warm stew full of gelatine, however, isn’t just delicious - it’s also better for your heart.
GET A GOOD NIGHT’S SLEEP
"Prepare for the party season by laying down a stock of home-made beef broth in your freezer. The glycine in gelatine can help reduce the hell of a hangover by gently detoxing your liver and soothing your gut"
Snuggling up with a cup of cocoa before bed may sound like heaven. But if you want a good night’s sleep, you might try a bowl of jelly instead.
A 2007 study asked volunteers to take 3g of the amino acid glycine (around 2tbsp of gelatine) before bed. They were hooked up to a brain monitor, which showed they fell asleep quicker and entered a deep slumber faster than volunteers given a placebo.
The researchers concluded: ‘Glycine before bedtime seems to improve sleep quality.’
It is known that glycine is an inhibitory neurotransmitter, controlling the release of the hormone norepinephrine, which causes anxiety.
THE ULTIMATE HANGOVER CURE
Prepare for the party season by laying down a stock of home-made beef broth in your freezer. Then, when you’re feeling fragile after a night out, don’t reach for the kettle. Forget the juicer. Instead, make yourself a cup of warm broth. The glycine in gelatine can help reduce the hell of a hangover by gently detoxing your liver and soothing your gut.
And if you really can’t stomach broth first thing, snacking on a few cubes of jelly could do the trick, too.
BONE BROTH TO LOSE WEIGHT
Instead of a latte, why not pour yourself a cup of bone broth? Yes, in America, cafes are springing up serving nothing but drinks made from bones.
It’s all part of the Paleo diet, where followers believe that adopting a Stone Age-style food regime will help them stay fit and lose weight.
Gelatine can give you strong nails and shiny hair
Even if you don’t want to follow every bit of the caveman diet, there’s a good reason to eat all that rich, glutinous jelly that comes when we cook bones slowly.
As gelatine is so full of protein, it fills us up. So we won’t be as tempted to gorge on high-calorie foods. Gelatine also only contains 62 calories per 100g.
If you’re getting your gelatin fix in a sweet jelly, go for a sugar-free version and slash your calories - a typical serving has less than 10 calories.
The amino acids in gelatine also boost our metabolism, so we burn more calories.
It's not just the skin on our faces that suffers as we age. The skin on our body also gets less elastic and that can lead to cellulite.
But, again, by eating lots of gelatine, you can boost your levels of collagen and reduce the spread of dimpling. It will give you a shot of collagen where it’s needed, improving firmness and elasticity.
A HEALTHY GUT
Gelatine is a naturally good way to keep the gut healthy. It absorbs water in the digestive tract, helping keep the contents fluid, which means digested food and waste move easier, ridding the body of toxins.
The glycine in the gelatine also helps increase the release of hydrochloric acid in the stomach - this acid helps us digest minerals and fight any pathogens, such as viruses and parasites.
The amino acids in gelatine also keep the intestine wall healthy and intact.
This means we are less likely to suffer from food allergies, which can be caused when the wall of the gut starts leaking.
SHINY HAIR AND STRONG NAILS
Scientists at the University of Michigan have found that eating gelatine improves the structure and health of hair follicles, making it more shiny.
‘Preliminary studies suggest that consuming gelatin can improve the hair,’ they report.
The same study shows that eating gelatine also makes nails stronger and less brittle.
NOURISH AGEING SKIN FROM WITHIN
We all lose collagen as we age. It’s the main reason why our skin starts to look wrinkled. So it’s no surprise that finding a way to pump collagen into our skin is the holy grail of cosmetics brands.
Smearing on collagen-rich face creams is one way of trying to boost our depleted reserves. But scientists suspect nourishing skin from the inside by eating gelatine (very similar chemically to collagen, and thought to have many of the same benefits when consumed) could be much more effective.
One study found that collagen supplements reduced dryness and wrinkles - but gelatine is a far cheaper alternative.