Smart Gelatin Substitutes

Traditional gelatin-based salads and desserts are popular additions to any table, and now you can make nutritious versions fit for any diet, too.

Photo by Getty Images/SStajic

Torn between making your favorite gelatin treats and sticking to your nutritional standards? Typical flavored gelatin mixes have ingredient lists that read like chemistry experiments. They contain artificial flavors, chemicals to control acidity, preservatives, and synthetic food dyes galore, including Red 40 and Yellow 6, often made from petroleum byproducts. Studies suggest these artificial colors may spark damaging inflammation in your body and trigger hyperactivity in children.

Sugar-free gelatin mixes might be worse. They typically replace sugar with artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame and acesulfame potassium. These sugar substitutes may increase your risk of weight gain and unfavorably shift the makeup of your gut microbiome.

Fortunately, you can find natural boxed gelatin mixes. These include options that are naturally colored, GMO-free, vegan, or low in sugar. While starting from scratch with plain gelatin or agar gives you the most control over what’s in your dish, you can reach for natural boxed options when you need something quick and easy.

Plain, Pastured Gelatin

If you buy plain gelatin, you can sweeten and flavor it yourself using natural ingredients. But not all gelatin is equal in quality. Since the product is extracted from the skin and connective tissues of cattle or pigs, you should consider how the animals were raised.

Photo by Getty Images/CasarsaGuru

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