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How to Choose Gelatin / Collagen Brands…

I have written about gelatin a lot on this site and many of my recipes feature this nutritious food (I’ll give you a list of delicious gelatin recipes below to get you started).

I’m not going to go into detail about what gelatin is, so if you’re new to gelatin, please make sure you read this post where I discuss the health benefits of gelatin.

One of the best sources for gelatin is bone broth. If you’re not already incorporating bone broth into your diet, then you MUST read these two posts:

As with any animal product, quality is of the utmost importance when it comes to selecting a brand. {Tweet This!}

I get a lot of questions about gelatin daily and which brand I recommend and how to select, so that is why I wanted to write this post.

How to Select a Brand of Gelatin or Collagen

When it comes to selecting any sort of animal product, you want to make sure you look for the highest quality possible. The things I look for are:

  1. Where are they sourcing it (grass-fed free range cattle OR feedlot cattle)?
  2. What countries are they sourcing from?
  3. If grass-fed free range, are the pastures they graze on treated with any chemical fertilizers or pesticides?
  4. Are the animals 100% grass-fed or are they mostly grain-fed with a little bit of grass here and there?

I don’t worry so much about “organic” when it comes to animal products.

WHAAAAAAAAAT? I can imagine some of you are shocked at this statement.

Here’s why I don’t pay as much attention to “organic” for my animal products:

Cattle (and other animals) can be labeled as “organic”, but if you actually look at their living environment, you may find that they are stuck in feedlots (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation – CAFO) and are simply being fed organic grains.

A lot of “organic” meats that you see on the market are just this — feedlot animals that are fed organic grains and are never allowed to roam on pasture.

Feedlot, grain-fed animals are much more unhealthy than those allowed to pasture, as it goes against how they were designed to live. Feeding them organic grains makes them only slightly better than your regular CAFO animals.

For more detailed information, please read this post about the difference between grass-fed and grain-fed beef.

Most of the time, farms that use sustainable farming and ranching practices are also going to be anti chemicals, hormones, antibiotics, etc., even if they are not a certified organic farm.

So, when selecting any animal product, including gelatin, look at:

  • What they are being fed.
  • Where they are living.
  • How they are treated.

This immediately eliminates about 98% of all gelatin/collagen brands out there. So, absolutely NO Knox, Jell-O, etc. Grass-fed and pastured only. If the farm uses organic practices, then that’s a bonus!

To find sustainable farms and ranches in your area, check out the Eat Wild site here.

What Brands Do I Use? 

Now that I have established how best to select a brand of gelatin/collagen, I will discuss the brands I use and why I use them specifically.

As of the writing of this post, I am only aware of three 100% grass-fed and finished gelatin and collagen brands: Vital Proteins, Perfect Supplements, and Great Lakes.

UPDATE 10/15/15: Perfect Supplements has just released their grass-fed collagen (a cold-soluble version of gelatin) and has a regular gelatin in the works. I have tested their grass-fed collagen and love it.

UPDATE 6/28/16: Perfect Supplements has just released their grass-fed gelatin (the type you use for gummies, pudding, etc.). I have tested their grass-fed gelatin and collagen and love both products.

There are some other ones out there that claim to be “natural” and “organic” but they are not coming from grass-fed and pastured animals, so I steer clear.

I used Great Lakes for years, but a few months ago, I made the switch to Vital Proteins (who is now one of my affiliate partners because I loved their products so much and want to support the company’s mission).

UPDATE 10/15/15: I still love Vital Proteins, but have now added Perfect Supplements’ Grass-Fed Collagen to my rotation. They have been a trusted partner of mine for a long time now and I am so excited that they are expanding their products to include grass-fed collagen and gelatin products. 

UPDATE 6/28/16: I have now added Perfect Supplements’ Grass-Fed Collagen and Grass-Fed Gelatin to my rotation. I love that there is now another clean product for us to choose from and both their gelatin and collagen products meet my taste, smell, and quality standards. 

I heard about them through the traditional food community and immediately started researching the company. I quickly purchased a container of each type of gelatin from them so I could test it next to Great Lakes.

Great Lakes is still a great gelatin because it is one of the few that actually does come from grass-fed cattle. But, there are two main reasons I prefer Vital Proteins and Perfect Supplements now:

1. It tastes and smells better.

Great Lakes always had a slightly strange (stale?) taste and smell (I just thought this was normal). But, the batches of Vital Proteins gelatin and Perfect Supplements Collagen that I have tried taste and smells completely neutral. I don’t notice the same stale scent and taste that I did in Great Lakes and that makes it much more appetizing to me.

2. It comes packaged in an airtight container.

Great Lakes does not. Their packaging is cardboard and is not airtight. This allows air and moisture into the container, both of which can degrade the product. This could be why the taste and smell was always a little “off” for me. You also have to worry about potential contamination from the poor packaging.

The BPA-free airtight containers from Vital Proteins and Perfect Supplements assure me there is no contamination of the product from weak packaging. Their products are kosher, gluten-free, rGBH-free, and non-GMO.

After testing all  products side-by-side (and I use A LOT of gelatin in my home), I am sold on the quality and taste of Vital Proteins and Perfect Supplements (plus the folks who run the company are SUPER nice!).

Price Comparison Between Vital Proteins and Great Lakes

When it comes to any grass-fed product, the costs are going to be higher. There’s no way around it. But, you’re paying for a superior product that will create HEALTH in the body and not DISEASE.

When it comes to food, you get what you pay for. {Tweet This}

Vital Proteins and Perfect Supplements are going to be slightly more expensive that Great Lakes. But, I am willing to pay extra for it because I feel the quality is much better (taste and smell mean a lot to me!).

Vital Proteins Per Ounce Cost:

Note: Vital Proteins has free shipping on all orders, so you don’t have to factor in shipping. At this time, it is not available in stores.

  • Collagen Peptides Blue Top (Cold Water Soluble) | 20 ounce container for $37.00 | Per ounce price is: $1.85
  • Collagen Protein Green Top (Hot Water Soluble) | 32 ounce container for $42.00 | Per ounce price is: $1.31

If you are a Thrive Market member, the prices are substantially lower for Vital Proteins gelatin and collagen there. Read why I love Thrive Market here.

Perfect Supplements Per Ounce Cost:

Note 1: Perfect Supplements does offer excellent discounts when you buy any of their name-brand products in bulk. So, if you buy 3 containers of collagen, you can save 25%, six container saves 30%, and twelve saves 35%. Something to consider if you go through a lot of it. They also offer free shipping on orders over $99.

  • Perfect Hydrolyzed Collagen (Cold Water Soluble) | 23 ounce container for $38.95 | Per ounce price is $1.69
  • Perfect Bovine Gelatin(Hot Water Soluble) | 23 ounce container for $34.95 | Per ounce price is $1.52

Great Lakes Per Ounce Cost:

Great Lakes is available at many health food stores. I have found on average that it is a couple dollars more expensive locally than what I can get it for on Amazon, so for the sake of this break down, I am using Amazon’s prices.

For Great Lakes (off of Amazon), you’re looking at a per ounce price. This does not include shipping costs, so you would need to add those in if you don’t have Amazon Prime:

  • Collagen Hydrolysate Green Can (Cold Water Soluble) | 16 ounce container for $21.49 | Per ounce price is: $1.34 ounce
  • Gelatin Red Can (Cold Water Soluble) | 16 ounce container for $18.99 | Per ounce price is: $1.19

All in all, I much prefer the quality of the Vital Proteins over Great Lakes, so for me it’s worth the extra money. I think most of us have an aversion to things that taste and smell bad and Great Lakes was always a bit off-putting in that department, but I ate it anyway because I knew it was good for us!

Perfect Supplements Collagen Review and Breakfast Brownie Recipe

I recently did a review of Perfect Supplements grass-fed collagen and created a video about it as well. Included in my review is a recipe for a protein-packed superfood breakfast brownie. Yes, you can have brownies for breakfast. 😉

Read that post and get the recipe here. Watch my video below.


What is the Difference Between the Vital Proteins Blue Top and the Green Top?

Vital Proteins offers two different types of gelatin. It is important to know that these ARE NOT interchangeable when it comes to recipes! Watch this video:

The green top (Collagen Protein) is what you need for recipes where you are making things that you want to “gel” (i.e. gummies, “jello”, etc.). This is what is also referred to as “hot water soluble” gelatin.

Green = HOT

The blue top (Collagen Peptides) does not thicken or gel like gelatin does.Use it in things where you don’t want any gelling or clumping (i.e. cold drinks, smoothies, etc.).

Blue = COLD

If you want to get really technical, these are not both actual gelatin (but the term is used interchangeably, so that is the reason I still call them both gelatin).

The collagen protein (green top) is true gelatin, while the blue top is not. Confused? Let’s clarify with this quote from Vital Proteins:

The peptides and protein do indeed have very similar amino acid profiles. The large difference is that the peptides are enzymatically hydrolyzed using a water process This means that enzymes were used to break the gelatin protein down into smaller molecules which results in a product that does not gel in cold liquids and one that is also faster digested due to the fact that it is already partially broken down.

The collagen protein, which is gelatin, is a bit different. It is not treated with enzymes and is a larger protein molecule that is theoretically slower digesting as it has not been pre-digested like the peptides. When consumed, the gelatin does help to draw water into the gastrointestinal tract. It also forms a “gel” that can be beneficial to the digestive system. Since it seems to be slower digesting it may travel along the gastrointestinal tract further, potentially enhancing the gut health benefits.

Want EVEN MORE Info on Gelatin?

If you do, I simply have to recommend this book from my friend and affiliate partner, Sylvie of The Hollywood Homestead — The Gelatin Secret: The Surprising Superfood that Transforms Your Health and Beauty.

This is by far one of the best digital resources that has come across my desk in a long time. Sylvie dives into all of the benefits of gelatin, how it improves our health (especially bone, joint, brain, skin, dental, and gut health), plus she offers a ton of tasty recipes too!


 Learn More and Download Your Copy Here

Want to learn more about gelatin and get some delicious recipes? Check out this post!

10 Health Benefits of Gelatin, plus 80 Ways to Eat More of It // deliciousobsessions.com #realfood #gelatin

Here are some of my newest recipes using gelatin that are not included above:

What are your thoughts? Do you know of any 100% grass-fed brands that I am not aware of? Leave a comment below!


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