When it comes to gelatin, Knox Gelatine is the brand that most of us know best. Part of the reason is because Knox Gelatine was the first commercial brand of gelatin and has been around since the 1840s. It is still available in just about every supermarket and cheap to buy.
If you want to make a gummy dessert, Knox Gelatine will do the trick (Not that I’d recommend eating Knox Gelatine even for this purpose though!).
But here’s the thing:
Many people buy gelatin because they heard about its many health benefits, such as:
- Helping with weight loss
- Joint health
- Bone health
- Digestive healing
- Healthier hair
- Better skin (even fights wrinkles!)
If it is these health benefits you are after, then I don’t recommend using Knox Gelatine! Here is why.
*Before you ask, Knox uses the UK spelling gelatine instead of the US spelling gelatin. It’s not a typo! 🙂
Knox Gelatine Is Made from Factory Farm Animals
Gelatin is made from the bones, skins, and connective tissues of animals. This probably sounds weird or even gross to a lot of people. However, these are things we really should be eating more of!
The amino acids (which are the building blocks of proteins) in connective tissues are different than the amino acids found in muscle meat. Since we mostly eat muscle meat, we end up with too many of certain amino acids and not enough of other ones. (Source)
So, yes, we do need to be eating these parts of the animal. But we don’t need to be eating the leftovers from factory farm animals.
I wrote to Knox asking them how they raise their animals. I didn’t get a response from them. However, since Knox is such a large company and uses the mass-production methods typical of the industry, we can safely assume that their gelatin is made from factory farm animals.
Why does this matter? Two BIG reasons:
- Nutrition: Factory farm animals are raised in terrible conditions. Not only is this a moral issue, but the animals end up very unhealthy. When the animal isn’t healthy, the resulting products aren’t as nutritious. You need healthy animals to make nutritious gelatin!
- Antibiotics and Hormones: Because the conditions on factory farms are so bad, they are routinely given antibiotics. Because the goal is to fatten the animals up as quickly as possible, they get hormones to increase growth. These end up in the animal product. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were traces of antibiotics and hormones in Knox Gelatine. Since Knox doesn’t give out this information, we can’t know for sure.
Knox Gelatine Isn’t Grass-Fed
You’ve probably seen the grass-fed label on meat in your supermarket. There is a very good reason that so many people are now choosing grass-fed over traditional grain-fed meat: it is healthier.
As I talk about in this post about What Is Grass-Fed Gelatin, grass-fed meat has:
- Better Omega 3 to 6 ratio
- 2x-3x the amounts of conjugated linoleic acid
- More antioxidants
- More vitamins and minerals
- Lower levels of saturated fat
We don’t know for sure how much healthier grass-fed gelatin is than conventional gelatin. However, if grass-fed meat is so much healthier, it is safe to hypothesize that the grass-fed gelatin will also be.
Another issue with animals that aren’t grass-fed is that they are probably getting GMO feed. This is something we should all be worried about and we definitely don’t want traces of GMOs in our gelatin. (Source)
Knox Gelatine Is Highly Processed
To extract the gelatin from animal parts, manufacturers typically soak the animal parts in a strong acid like hydrochloric acid, calcium hydroxide, or sulphur dioxide.
Traces of the acids can remain in the gelatin and can cause health problems. In the case of the hydrochloric acid, the acid also destroys the collagen, thus destroying the nutritional benefits of the gelatin. (Source 1, 2)
Knox also doesn’t give out any information about how they make their gelatin. Thus, I’d have to assume that they are using this acidic method which destroys nutrients.
What Do I Use Instead of Knox Gelatin?
Quality really matters when it comes to superfoods. If you want health benefits, then you’ve got to be prepared to pay a bit extra for a quality product.
I like them because:
- They are made from grass-fed cattle
- The cattle are not raised on factory farms
- Both brands do quality assurance testing and publically disclose the results on their websites
- Both brands use an alkaline method of making their gelatin, thus keeping more nutrients intact
- No pesticides, GMOs, hormones, or antibiotics are in the gelatin
Of the two brands, Vital Proteins is probably the more nutritious because of how much quality control goes into making it. They give out a lot of detailed info on their website, such as what breed of cows is used to make the gelatin (Nelore breed) and how much pasture each cow gets (2.67 acres each).
Vital Proteins does cost a bit more than Great Lakes gelatin though. Since they are both great products, you can decide for yourself whether it is worth it to pay a bit extra for Vital Proteins or just stick with Great Lakes.