Jello Calories, Nutrition Facts, and Health Benefits

Is Jello a Diet-Friendly Dessert?

Jell-O Nutrition facts
Jell-O Health Info. Rick Gayle Studio / Getty Images

Many dieters use jello desserts and Jell-O brand snack packs as a sweet treat when they are trying to lose weight. But is jello healthy? The dessert is low in calories but it is also very low in nutrition. Get the nutrition facts for Jell-O before you decide if you want to include it in your meal plan.

Jello Calories and Nutrition Facts

Cherry Jello Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1/4 package (21 g)
Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories 80 
Calories from Fat 0 
Total Fat 0g0%
Saturated Fat 0g0%
Sodium 100mg4%
Carbohydrates 19g6%
Sugars 19g 
Protein 2g 
Vitamin A 0% · Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 0% · Iron 0%
*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Consumers who like Jell-O can purchase individual snack packs or they can buy the small rectangular box of gelatin dessert and make it at home. Jello nutrition is about the same for both.

But there may be a benefit to eating a snack pack instead of the boxed variety. Why? Because a snack pack is portion controlled. You're less likely to eat more than one container when you buy the snack packs. But when you prepare flavored gelatin at home, a single serving is one-quarter of the box as prepared. It's easier to eat more than that if you are serving yourself from a large bowl or resealable container.

The most popular brand of gelatin snacks is Jell-O. But other brands are available. The nutrition for flavored gelatin made by other companies may be slightly different. A single Jell-O Ready to Eat Strawberry Gelatin Snack (96 grams) provides 70 calories, 17 carbs and 16 grams of sugar. Strawberry Snack Pack Juicy Gels (92 grams) provides 90 calories, 23 grams of carb and 20 grams of sugar.

according to the manufacturer.

Jello Pudding Nutrition

If you're trying to choose between jello gelatin snacks and Jell-O brand pudding, you may want to opt for the pudding. Jell-O brand pudding snacks provide 110 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 8 grams of carbohydrate, 1 gram of fiber and 18 grams of sugar.

But it also provides 2 grams of protein. It's not much, but you will get a bit more nutrition from the pudding.

In addition, if you make the pudding at home you can use skim milk and reduce the fat content even further. There are internet rumors of making jello pudding with water. This recipe isn't likely to work well and you reduce the nutritional value when you cut out the milk.

Lastly, because pudding is creamy, you may be more satisfied eating less of the treat than you would eating sweet gelatin snack packs. Fat-free and sugar-free varieties of Jell-O snack packs are available so you can satisfy your sweet tooth for the fewest number of calories.

Is Jello Healthy?

Jello is low in calories. For that reason, many dieters enjoy Jell-O brand snack packs or make fruit flavored gelatin treats for dessert instead of higher calorie options like ice cream. But jello is a source of empty calories.

Empty calorie foods provide energy primarily in the form of added sugar and unhealthy solid fats such as saturated fat or trans fat. They contribute energy (calories) but provide no nutritional value. Jello has no fat but it is almost entirely made up of sugar.

So is sugar-free jello better? That depends on who you ask.

Sugar-free gelatin desserts get their sugary or fruity taste from artificial sweeteners. Many experts believe that artificial sweeteners are not safe. And others believe that they may adjust the way your body tastes and recognizes food, leading you to crave sweet foods more often.

The other problem with jello is that it is usually paired with whipped cream. Adding a whipped topping like Cool Whip or Reddi Whip can add significant calories and sugar if you are not careful about serving size. A single serving (two tablespoons) of Reddi Wip only provides 15 calories and one gram of fat, but very few people measure the topping when they squirt it from the can.

Jello Recipes and Healthy Ways to Cut Jello Calories 

So is there any way to include jello in a healthy meal plan? Yes. But like any sweet treat or empty calorie food, you should consume it in moderation. According to USDA recommendations, an adult woman should limit her empty calories to 150-250 per day. An adult man should keep his between 160 and 330 calories per day. And a child should limit their empty calories to about 120 calories per day.

You can boost jello nutrition by eating it with fresh fruit instead of whipped topping. Sprinkle it with berries or sliced fruit for added color and sweetness. Some cooks make jello with fruit juice instead of water, but this will only boost the sugar content and you won't benefit from the fiber in fresh fruit.

Some people also make their own flavored fruit gelatin molds without the mix. This method takes more time but you can eliminate the artificial colors and ingredients.

You can also make a jello salad recipe. This sounds like it might be a healthy way to enjoy the sweet treat (it's "salad" after all), but most recipes simply blend fruit, whipped cream and a few other ingredients for a food that resembles dessert more than a salad.

Jello can be a healthier choice if you choose to eat a small portion instead of a big bowl of ice cream, but if you want to reduce sugar and improve your diet, this is a food to consume in moderation.

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