Collagen peptides have become increasingly popular. Take a science-based look at what they are, their potential benefits, and how to use collagen in recipes.
Collagen is a super important protein
Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body. It’s found in the bones, muscles, skin, and tendons. It makes up 25% to 35% of the body’s protein content. It gives support and strength to everything from our bones to our fingernails.
There are 5 types of collagen
- Type I makes up the majority of our body’s collagen. It’s mainly found in the skin, bones, and tendons.
- Type II collagen is found in cartilage. This would be in movable joints like the knee, elbow, and shoulder.
- Type III provides strength for the muscles and artery walls.
- Type IV collagen is a part of building blocks in the different layers of the skin.
- Type V is found in cell surfaces, hair follicles, and the placenta.
Where do I find collagen in the diet?
You can find dietary collagen in meat, egg whites, bone broth, collagen supplement pills, or collagen peptides. Collagen peptides are connective tissues of meat that have been broken down into a powder form. One scoop contains only 30 calories and around 7 grams of protein. There is one caveat with the protein in collagen peptides though. It’s not a complete protein, containing all essential amino acids. It’s missing the amino acid tryptophan.
You shouldn’t rely solely on collagen to meet your protein needs, but rather, it’s a nice way to fill in the gaps. Protein in the diet helps keep us fuller longer. Other great sources of protein include lean meats, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, and low-fat dairy.
When were collagen peptides invented?
Collagen peptides were first manufactured in 1947. They are derived from connective tissues of meat. Then, it goes through a purification process and is broken down into a powder form. In the late 1970s, the demand for collagen products grew tremendously. Thus, in 1985 the first scientific study was conducted to test out if the hype was real.
In 2020, the market value for collagen products was over 8 billion dollars and continues to increase each year.
Let’s talk about the potential benefits
I’ve spent a lot of time researching the health effects of collagen. Unfortunately since it’s so new, there’s not a ton of reliable research yet. Most of the research is small-scale and short-term. Here are the potential positives I’ve found so far.
This is one of the most promising areas of research, especially for osteoarthritis. It is not quite understood how collagen peptides functions in the body, but they may help improve joint pain and reduce inflammation, and help with cartilage regeneration.
Skin, Hair, and Nails
Everyone wants healthy hair, glowing skin, and strong nails. Collagen may help, but the jury’s still out. Some research demonstrates improved skin elasticity, reduced skin aging, and improved nail and hair strength.
Collagen peptides likely won’t be a quick fix for getting gains, but there is some evidence for preserved lean body mass and increased muscle strength.
Other Potential Health Benefits
There are a handful of other proposed health benefits such as bone health, heart disease, Alzheimer’s protection, and weight loss. It may help with weight loss since protein can keep us fuller longer and thus result in lower calorie intake. However, there is limited research so these claims are less supported at this time.
Are collagen peptides safe?
Right now, there are no known health risks and collagen peptides are generally considered safe. However, some mild side effects like bloating, bad taste, and heartburn have been reported.
Be aware that dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA. Always try to look for third party certified products.
Keep in mind that collagen peptides are not vegan or vegetarian friendly since they are sourced from animals.
How do I use collagen peptides in recipes?
Collagen peptides easily dissolve into drinks and recipes without changing the taste.
- Try making your own protein packed collagen banana bread
- Add into breakfast like overnight oats or yogurt parfaits
- Stir into a bowl of hearty soup
- Mix in morning coffee or matcha lattes
- Throw a scoop into a fruity smoothie bowl
- Roll into customizable energy bites
The bottom line
Ultimately, we should aim to get a balanced diet and adequate protein from food sources. However, collagen peptides may be an easy way to add extra protein in the diet to keep us fuller longer.
Since collagen peptides are a relatively new product, more research is still needed to confirm the health benefits, but the potential health benefits are very promising.