Jelly Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Jelly nutrition facts

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Jelly is a transparent fruit spread usually made from fruit juice, sugar, and pectin. Some people confuse jelly with jam. One way to tell the difference is that jam is made using fruit pieces versus juice, so it has a chunkier texture.

Jelly is relatively high in sugar and carbohydrates and offers little in the way of vitamins and minerals. That said, it is usually consumed in such small amounts that it isn't likely to have a substantial impact on your diet.

Jelly Nutrition Facts

One tablespoon of jelly (20g) provides 53.2 calories, 0g of protein, 14g of carbohydrate, and 0g of fat. Jelly isn't rich in nutrients, but it does supply trace amounts of potassium, choline, and calcium. The following nutrition information is provided by the USDA for any flavor of jelly.

  • Calories: 53.2
  • Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 6mg
  • Carbohydrates: 14g
  • Fiber: 0.2g
  • Sugars: 10.2g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Potassium: 10.8mg
  • Choline: 2.1mg
  • Calcium: 1.4mg

Carbs

Most of the calories in jelly come from carbohydrates. Of the 14 grams of carbs in jelly, 10.2 grams are in the form of sugar. It contains almost no fiber at 0.2 grams.

The glycemic index (GI) of jelly can vary based on what type of sweetener is used when making it. One study found that jelly made with sugar has a 58.4 GI rating, while jelly made with fructose has a lower GI rating, somewhere between 29.2 and 32.8.

Fats

The amount of fat in jelly is so small (0.004 grams per tablespoon) that it is considered a fat-free food.

Protein

Jelly provides an insignificant amount of protein at roughly 0.03 grams per serving.

Vitamins and Minerals

While it is made from fruit juice which may provide certain micronutrients, jelly itself does not supply any significant vitamins or minerals. You may get trace amounts of potassium, choline, and calcium, but not enough to really contribute to your daily recommended intakes.

Calories

A one-tablespoon serving of jelly contains 53.2 calories. Use it instead of peanut butter on your toast and you can save around 40 calories per tablespoon. (You'll also save roughly 8 grams of fat.)

Summary

Jelly is high in carbs, primarily in the form of sugar. It also provides very few nutrients. While it isn't likely to make a huge difference in your health when eaten in small amounts, watching your jelly intake can be beneficial to creating a healthy diet.

Health Benefits

Fruit jelly has not been widely studied. That said, some research suggests that consuming this food may provide a couple of health benefits.

Provides the Body Energy

Jelly adds carbohydrates to your diet and carbs are the body's preferred energy source. This energy helps support basic bodily functions as well as providing energy for additional movements, such as exercise and other physical activities.

May Improve Cardiometabolic Risk Factors

In one study, 16 subjects were given a serving of mulberry fruit jelly daily for seven days. This jelly was consumed in conjunction with a high-fat meal. At the end of the study, participants had reduced their blood cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL), and inflammation.

Researchers also noted that the subjects had improved insulin sensitivity, another cardiometabolic risk factor. They credited the anthocyanin in the mulberries for this benefit due, in part, to its antioxidant properties.

May Promote Blood Sugar Stability

If the jelly is made with fructose, your blood sugar level won't spike as much since fructose has a low glycemic index. This helps keep your blood sugar stable while enjoying a meal that contains this fruity spread.

One double-blind study involved subjects consuming yogurt drinks sweetened with either fruit jelly or sugar. The fruit jelly yogurt drink reduced the participants' blood glucose response, and the amount of the reduction increased as the amount of fruit jelly also increased.

May Decrease Heart Disease Risk

Grape jelly is made with Concord grapes. These dark purple grapes have skins and seeds that contain polyphenols—plant-based chemicals that have been associated with a wide range of health benefits, including a decreased risk of heart disease.

Although polyphenols in jelly have not specifically been studied, there is limited evidence that grape jam (which includes part of the fruit) can provide some benefits. Another study added that, while the juice may provide some benefit, the impact is dose-dependent.

May Improve Nutritional Intake

While jelly is typically low in nutrients, several researchers are trying to find ways to increase its nutritional value. Among the potential solutions are storing the jelly at lower temps to preserve its bioactive compounds and using a mixture of fruit and berries to provide maximum nutrition.

Should some of these solutions be implemented in the future, this could increase the nutrients consumed when eating jelly. Combine that with sweetening jelly with substances other than sugar (such as fructose) and this food's nutritional profile could improve over time.

Since jelly is typically consumed in such small amounts, and since it provides no substantial vitamins or minerals at this time, this food is not likely to benefit your health in a significant way.

Allergies

People with pollen food allergy syndrome (PFAS), also known as oral allergy syndrome (OAS), should avoid jelly, as fruit is a common trigger. Those with birch pollen allergies are often affected by cherries, apples, kiwis, peaches, pears, and plums.

Cross-reactivity between grapes, strawberries, cherries, and other fruits is also possible. Symptoms can include an itchy mouth, scratchy throat, and swelling of the lips, mouth, tongue, and throat. Itchy ears and hives on the mouth are also possible.

Anaphylaxis is also a potential consequence when experiencing an allergic reaction to fruits like grapes, cherries, or strawberries. Some people may even have an immune response to fruit pectin if they are allergic to citrus fruit.

Contact your healthcare provider or an allergy specialist if you think you may be allergic to jelly or any other food.

Adverse Effects

Citric acid is used to make commercial brands of jelly (and many other foods). Although it is found naturally in fruits and vegetables, the kind used by food manufacturers as a preservative is different. So, there is some concern that it may cause adverse effects.

For example, one set of case reports suggests that it may cause inflammation in people with certain genetic predispositions. Other studies have explored its potentially damaging effects on liver health and brain tissue, but these have been performed on animals.

In 2009, the non-profit organization NutritionFacts.org, a partner of the True Health Initiative, released a video assuring consumers that citric acid is not harmful. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration agrees, stating that citric acid is generally recognized as safe (GRAS).

Varieties

Jelly comes in many flavors. In the jelly section of the supermarket, you'll also find other fruit spreads like jams and preserves, marmalade, and others. Consumers are often confused about these products and the potential nutritional differences.

  • Jam is made from chopped or pureed fruit, so it is likely to have more texture than jelly.
  • Preserves contain the most chunks of fruit.
  • Marmalade is preserves made with citrus. Orange marmalade is the common variety.

You may also see a few other products in the jelly aisle, including chutney or compote. Chutney is jam made without pectin. It is often flavored with spices and may accompany savory food. Compote is similar to jam but usually consumed immediately rather than being jarred for later use.

While there are slight variations in the calorie count and carb count of each, the nutritional information is very similar. So if you are trying to choose between varieties, buy the product that you enjoy the most.

If you are shopping in the UK, the word "jelly" does not refer to a fruit spread. Instead, it refers to the gelatin dessert that is often called Jell-O in the United States.

When It’s Best

Jelly is available year-round in the supermarket, so you can add it to your grocery list all year long. You can also sometimes find jelly at farmer's markets, where you can purchase homemade options from local vendors.

Storage and Food Safety

The USDA reports that commercially-prepared jelly will stay fresh for 6 to 12 months if stored In the refrigerator after opening. If an opened jar is not refrigerated, it should be consumed within 48 hours.

Some jelly manufacturers indicate that unopened jelly is likely to stay fresh for 24 months if stored in a cool dark area. That said, you might notice a slight color and flavor degradation if it is stored for longer periods of time.

If you make jelly at home, it can be stored on the shelf for about a year. After opening, it should be stored in the refrigerator at a temperature of 40°F or lower.

The National Center for Home Cooked Food Preservation advises that cooked jams and jellies are best stored for one month in the refrigerator after opening. Freezing jelly is not recommended as the gelatin that gives jelly its texture is broken down when frozen.

How to Prepare

Jelly that you buy in the store may contain corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), or both. Some people try to limit their consumption of these ingredients due to concerns about their effects on health. If you make jelly at home, you can use your preferred sweetener or no sweetener at all.

Jelly can be made from a variety of fruit juices, the most popular including strawberry and grape. You might also see raspberry, blackberry, apricot, or other flavors. Some people even make jelly from vegetables, such as carrots.

There are two different methods to make jelly: the standard method and the short-boil method. Both involve boiling fruit (with or without pectin) and sugar to make a gel, which is strained and tested for consistency before being poured into glass jars that have been sanitized in preparation for storage.

Making jelly at home requires specific equipment (such as canning jars, large kettles, cheesecloth) and can take quite a bit of time and practice. Most cooks who make jelly at home do large batches at a time.

Most commonly, jelly is served on toast or in sandwiches. Whether you make your own or buy it in the store, there are a few creative and nutritious ways to consume jelly that go beyond the common pairing with peanut butter.

For example, if you are short on fruit, you can use jelly to make a fruit smoothie. Simply combine a tablespoon or two with milk or a milk alternative, Greek yogurt, and/or protein powder.

If you're looking for new ways to enjoy chicken breast or pork, glaze it with your favorite jelly and a few spices, or even barbecue sauce. If you don't like plain yogurt or cottage cheese, sweeten it with a dollop of jelly. And if you love pancakes, try swapping jelly for maple syrup.

19 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Malia Frey
 Malia Frey is a weight loss expert, certified health coach, weight management specialist, personal trainer​, and fitness nutrition specialist.