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What Is Gelatin?

Gelatin is a staple in healthy diets and school cafeterias around the world. Most people think it’s made of animal hooves and horns. That’s not true. That renders keratin; gelatin is made from collagen, which is collected from the skins and bones of pigs and cattle. Basically, these are boiled for a long time, and soaked with a strong acidic or basic solution to release the protein. Once extracted, the rotein is made into sheets or powder.

That may sound disgusting, but don’t worry—you can’t taste anything. In fact, gelatin in its basic powdered form has absolutely no flavor. It’s all protein, and healthy protein at that. That’s why nutritionists love it: it contains 18 amino acids, and covers nearly all of the amino acids needed for our well-being. It’s only missing tryptophan! Others believe that gelatin can lead to healthy bones and nails, and can help with digestion and intestinal problems. That’s one reason why chefs serve gravies that contain gelatin with any rich meats.

What people don’t realize is that gelatin is also used for industrial and processed food manufacturing. It’s a key ingredient in yogurt, marshmallows, gummy candy, salad dressings and even canned ham. That’s because gelatin has excellent thickening, emulsifying and stabilizing qualities.

Even the pharmaceutical industry uses gelatin as a way of coating tablets and caplets. Since it is easily broken down by the body, the medicine is quickly released after the pill is swallowed.

Gelatin, amazingly, is also used for completely non-edible products. See the picture in your photo frame? It contains gelatin. It is also used in paintball gun bullets.

Featured in Life