Healthy diets don’t change over time—but food and ingredient trends are continually changing. As health professionals, our clients expect us to have all the answers when it comes to the latest food trends. To keep you in the know, we are offering updates on "ingredients in the news." This issue’s featured ingredient: Collagen.
Present in skin and bones, collagen is the most abundant protein in the human body. Perhaps it’s unsurprising, then, that it’s become trendy to sip bone broth or take supplements high in collagen. Why? An idea in many traditional food cultures is that “like makes like,” and this trend seems to be no exception. Proponents believe that collagen consumption can help people maintain collagen stores in their own skin and joints, which naturally decline with age.
Collagen for skin and joints
The total evidence for collagen supplementation is not strong. There have been subtle positive effects seen in wrinkles and skin elasticity in small clinical trials, and it may help manage joint pain caused by arthritis. However, the totality of the research is limited, and most human trials are of short duration with variable quality and relatively few participants.
Collagen is not complete protein
Like other proteins, when collagen enters the digestive tract, it is broken down to individual amino acids, or small amino acid chains. These breakdown products are then used by the body wherever they are needed. Collagen is one of the only animal proteins that is not a complete protein, lacking tryptophan. Therefore, for clients interested in consuming collagen, it may be best to supplement with it rather than use it as a replacement for other sources of daily protein.
Collagen supplements are derived from that long-neglected kitchen staple, gelatin, which is making a comeback on foodie blogs and even in fine dining. The picture above features homemade gelatin “gummy” snacks made with fruit puree plus some added collagen (the yellow ones contain ripe jackfruit).
Disclaimer: Conagra Nutrition does not provide medical advice. Information is intended for educational purposes only. For specific nutrition guidance, please consult your regular healthcare provider or a registered dietitian.