If you’ve even just glimpsed at the health food and supplement scene this year, you’ve likely come across a new-ish product that bloggers and fitness gurus alike are raving about: chocolate collagen. With all the benefits of collagen and all the flavor of natural cocoa, chocolate collagen makes an easy, healthful addition to your morning smoothie.
But what exactly is chocolate collagen? And is it actually beneficial for your health? Is it better for some people than others? Are there any weird side effects? Here’s everything you need to know.
What is Chocolate Collagen?
Chocolate collagen (sometimes referred to as chocolate collagen peptides) is a powder-based collagen supplement that’s made with cocoa powder for a tasty chocolate flavor. It’s usually bovine-sourced, gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo and keto-friendly. Sometimes, it’s sweetened, either via stevia or another natural sweetener product, like monk fruit.
Collagen is a type of protein naturally found in the body that ages and deteriorates over time. As our collagen deteriorates, we start to notice many of the “normal” signs of old age — wrinkles, achy joints and ligaments, brittle fingernails, etcetera. For this reason, many people take collagen as a beauty supplement, as it can help to reverse some of the more minute signs of aging. When collagen is broken down into peptides, it’s easier for our bodies to digest, so most collagen supplements are made up of collagen peptides.
There are several types of collagen that you may see referenced by various supplement brands or on product packaging. Type 1 and 3 collagen promote skin health; Type 1 collagen is the most common form of collagen. Type 2 collagen promotes joint health and is found in your existing cartilage. Type 10 collagen is also found in cartilage and promotes bone health. Type 5 collagen is a little more niche and is specifically found in the placenta.
6 Collagen Benefits
So what all can collagen do for you? Here’s why it might be worth adding to your wellness routine.
Increase Skin Elasticity
Collagen can help to increase skin elasticity, which is basically just another way of saying that collagen helps to prevent wrinkles. While skin elasticity is the most commonly reported skin-related benefit of collagen, some users do say that there are other skin benefits as well, such as increased skin hydration and reduced acne and inflammation.
Boost Your Gut Health
For those with existing digestive issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome, collagen has been shown to help relieve inflammation. It’s also been shown that those with existing digestive problems already experience a deficiency in collagen in many cases, so taking a collagen supplement can help remedy this. Overall, collagen helps to keep your digestive tract and colon healthy and working correctly.
Reduce Joint Pain
Since collagen is one of the proteins that help support your connective tissue, a loss of collagen results in those connective tissues suffering from breakdown, which then results in issues like joint pain. If you’re finding that joint pain is a real hindrance to your lifestyle, you might want to consider taking a collagen supplement to see if it helps.
Increase Heart Health
Some studies have found that daily increased collagen intake can also help to reduce cholesterol and arterial stiffness. As the collagen protein helps to build up blood vessels, your chances of an arterial disease lessen.
Prevent Bone Loss
Bone density loss is a big issue for aging women, but taking a calcium supplement alongside a collagen supplement can help to prevent this. The greater your bone density, the lower your chances of severe injury, such as bone fractures and breakage.
Increase Muscle Mass
Since collagen is a protein, it just makes sense that collagen helps with building muscle mass. If you’re working on your strength training or looking to get fitter in general, a collagen supplement can help.
Types of Chocolate Collagen You Can Buy
Not sure where to start shopping for your new favorite supplement? These brands can help you out.
Earlier this year, Vital Proteins launched a chocolate collagen peptides powder supplement that you can buy online or at Costco, and it’s intended to help support skin, hair, nail and joint health. You can also order it from third-party vendors on Amazon.
The Vital Proteins collagen peptides powder can be used in smoothies and your favorite coffee-based drinks or even baking. If you go the Costco route, $33 will get you a two-pound tub of supplement powder, which equals about 45 servings. The collagen is sourced from grass-fed, pasture-raised cowhides.
Further Foods also offers a chocolate collagen peptides protein powder as an alternative to your average, non-collagen protein powder. This option has extra benefits thanks to the collagen and the inclusion of reishi mushrooms.
The supplement can be added to smoothies, protein shakes, morning coffee drinks, or just plain milk (regular or a dairy alternative). Purported benefits include mood enhancement (from the chocolate and mushrooms), boosted metabolism, greater mental clarity, reduced gut inflammation, injury prevention and, of course, improved hair and nail health. The reishi mushrooms help by offering mood-boosting properties and increasing immunity.
Further Foods collagen comes in several sizes, including an 11-ounce tub for $30, which gives you nearly 30 servings. You can also buy the powder in single-serving sticks. Ingredients include bovine collagen sourced from South American cows, cocoa powder, mushrooms and monk fruit extract for sweetness.
How to Use Your Chocolate Collagen
If you’re ready to start adding chocolate collagen into your daily wellness routine, but you want to go beyond your average smoothie or simply adding your chocolate collagen powder to your mocha or a glass of almond milk, try one of these options.
Add it to baked goods.
Baked goods become a little bit healthier with the addition of your chocolate collagen. From brownies to muffins to cookies, just add in a scoop to your favorite baking recipe.
Add it to your oatmeal.
Chocolate collage peptide or protein powder can easily be incorporated into your oatmeal, whether you’re making oatmeal fresh for your morning breakfast or you’re whipping up a batch of overnight oatmeal for a grab-and-go meal. Just add a scoop to your normal recipe.
Make some chocolate pudding.
Vital Proteins recommends using its chocolate peptide powder as a base for some instant chocolate pudding. Mix two scoops of the powder with two mashed avocados, a fourth of a cup maple syrup, a third of a cup coconut milk and two teaspoons of vanilla, and you have a delicious healthful chocolate pudding that’s entirely guilt-free.
Incorporate it into your favorite energy balls.
If you already make raw energy balls for fast snacking on the go, try incorporating your chocolate collagen powder into your recipe. You’ll enjoy a quick hit of energy, along with all the great benefits of collagen.
Make a chocolate-based dip.
Vital Proteins also recommends using its chocolate collagen as the base for a chocolate hummus dip. In a food processor, mix one and a half cups of soaked cashews with two scoops of chocolate collagen powder, a teaspoon cinnamon, a teaspoon vanilla and a third of a cup maple syrup. Once smooth, dish the mixture into a bowl and top with melted and mixed coconut oil and dark chocolate chips (about a teaspoon of the oil and a few tablespoons of the chocolate chips). Serve with fruit slices for a decadent snack.
Can You Get Your Collagen Naturally?
You can find what many supplements offer naturally if you look in the right places. Such is the case with collagen. One of the best sources of collagen is bone broth, as bone broth is made with collagen-rich animal products. You can also find collagen in chicken and pork skin, as well as in fish.
You can also increase your body’s natural collagen production by increasing your intake of other healthy vitamins, supplements and minerals. Vitamins A and C, zinc, copper and iron are necessary for collagen production, while Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for collagen storage. You can get all of these through either a well-rounded, healthful diet or via a daily vitamin and Omega-3 supplement.
Am I doing anything to reduce the amount of collagen in my body?
The collagen in your body naturally deteriorates with age, but you might be doing some things that are causing that deterioration to happen faster than normal. If you’re looking to reap the benefits of collagen, you’ll want to avoid behaviors that negate all your efforts.
Behaviors that can damage your body’s collagen stores include smoking tobacco, tanning and consuming too much sugar and carbs.
Are There Any Reasons Not to Take Collagen?
As is the case with any supplement, some individuals will run into rare side effects. Some of the most common collagen-related side effects include stomach upset or heartburn.
Additionally, some supplements are made with common allergens, so it’s best to take a look at all the ingredients that a supplement contains before you add it to your diet. It’s also wise to speak with your doctor before you start taking any supplement.
Beyond any side effect concerns, it’s important to note that most collagen is animal-derived, so it’s not typically suitable for vegetarians and vegans. If you want a vegan collagen supplement, you’ll want to look at health food stores or online. Vegan collagen is made from genetically modified yeast and bacteria. Vegan collagen comes with a few added benefits over traditional collagen supplements, in that it’s often more affordable, and there are fewer known side effects.
What About Topical Collagen?
If you’re not keen on taking a collagen supplement orally, you might be considering using a topical collagen cream for its skin health benefits. Unfortunately, topical collagen has not been shown to be as effective as oral collagen supplements in promoting skin health. That’s because topical collagen can’t be absorbed through the skin’s surface. Collagen creams are mostly hype and, while they may provide other benefits, such as hydration, they’re not going to repair or increase your body’s collagen stores.
What’s the Difference Between Collagen and Gelatin?
If you’ve done a little other research on collagen, you may have discovered that gelatin and collagen are similar. But what exactly is the difference?
Gelatin is simply cooked collagen. Both come with benefits, even though you may think of gelatin more as a necessary ingredient for your favorite wobbly dessert than a part of a healthy diet. Gelatin and collagen are nearly identical in terms of nutrient and protein content for similar skin, gut, bone and joint benefits.
The primary difference between collagen and gelatin is the chemical makeup. Gelatin is made up of shorter amino acid chains, which makes it easier to digest. However, gelatin isn’t as versatile as a collagen powder in terms of the different ways you can incorporate it into your diet.
You may find that gelatin is more affordable and easily accessible, though grocery store gelatin often includes added sugars, flavors (though unflavored is also an option) and artificial colors that you may not want in your diet.
Taking all of these differences and similarities into consideration, most consumers seeking collagen’s health benefits look to collagen peptide powders versus gelatin.
Is Collagen a Good Fit For Your Wellness Routine?
With relatively low risks and many potential benefits, collagen is a great fit for many people, especially those who’ve started experiencing the deterioration of their natural collagen stores (which can happen as early as age 25!). Talk to your healthcare provider, examine your current diet and lifestyle and see how you may be able to benefit from a chocolate collagen peptide powder.
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