9 Foods High in Collagen

May 24, 2024

 Foods High in Collagen


Collagen is a buzzword in the world of nutrition these days, but if you’ve ever enjoyed homemade chicken soup or Jell-O, you’ve likely been consuming collagen already. Yes, both bone broths and gelatin are rich in collagen.


So why all the buzz? Collagen is known for its potential benefits in supporting skin, hair, and joint health. It’s a protein-based structure found mostly in the bones, skin, and cartilage of animal products, composed of amino acids, the building blocks of protein. While your body naturally produces collagen, you can also support this process through your diet.


Foods High in Collagen

To boost your collagen levels, you should consume a variety of foods that contain collagen or are rich in the amino acids that help your body produce collagen. Additionally, foods rich in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, copper, and zinc can further support collagen production. For instance, vitamin C–rich strawberries and bell peppers are excellent for collagen synthesis.


Adopting certain lifestyle habits can also help maintain or boost collagen levels. These include avoiding excessive sun exposure (by wearing sunscreen), avoiding smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, and ensuring you get adequate sleep. Research also indicates that exercise may support collagen production in the skin. Increasing your intake of whole, fresh foods, including fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, can help you build and support collagen from the inside out.


There is no recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for collagen as there is for other vitamins and nutrients like vitamin C and zinc. However, the following foods either contain collagen or support your body's ability to create it:


  1. Gelatin

Gelatin is made from collagen, making it a direct way to add collagen to your diet. While you can eat Jell-O, a healthier option might be homemade gelatin gummies. Mix gelatin with juice, refrigerate until set, and cut into squares for a simple, collagen-boosting treat.


  1. Bone Broth
Bone Broth

Bone broth, whether from beef, chicken, pork, or fish, is made by simmering animal bones and skin, releasing collagen into the liquid. This type of broth is protein-rich and, when refrigerated, contains gelatinous globs—those globs are collagen. You can buy pre-made bone broth or make your own at home; look for “bone broth” specifically on the packaging to distinguish it from traditional broth.


  1. Homemade (Non-Veg) Soups and Stews
Homemade Soups and Stews

Using a chicken carcass to make soup, along with fresh veggies and herbs, results in a collagen-packed dish. Similarly, stewing meat with the bone can increase the collagen content of your meal. So, next time you cook with a slow cooker or one-pot, use meat on the bone.


  1. Whole, Small Fish

Small fish like sardines, smelt, or mackerel are eaten with their bones and skin, both of which contain collagen. Eating these fish also provides other nutrients like calcium and vitamin D.


  1. Salmon (With the Skin)
Salmon With the Skin

Salmon skin is a good source of collagen and omega-3 fatty acids. Make sure the skin is cleaned properly and scales are removed. Cooking the skin to a crispy texture can make it a delicious part of your meal.


  1. Skin-On Chicken
Skin-On Chicken

Eating chicken with the skin increases your dietary collagen intake. A 3.5-ounce chicken breast with skin contains 197 calories and 8 grams of fat (2 grams of which are saturated fat), while the same amount without skin contains 165 calories and 3.5 grams of fat (1 gram of which is saturated fat).


  1. Drippings from a Whole, Roasted Chicken
Drippings from a Whole, Roasted Chicken

The drippings from a roasted chicken, when refrigerated, form a gelatinous substance that is rich in collagen. These drippings can be used to make sauces and gravies or simply drizzled over your meal. Additionally, roasting vegetables with the chicken allows them to soak up these collagen-rich juices.


  1. Organ Meats
Organ Meats

Organ meats like liver, brain, and tongue are rich in collagen and other nutrients such as iron, B vitamins, protein, zinc, and vitamin D. However, due to their high saturated fat content, they should be consumed in moderation—around one to two servings per week.


  1. Pork Rinds

Pork rinds, made from boiled and then fried or baked pig skin, provide collagen but are also high in sodium and saturated fat. While they can be enjoyed as a treat, they should be eaten in moderation within a balanced diet.


Incorporating these foods into your diet can help you boost your collagen intake and support your body’s natural production processes, contributing to healthier skin, hair, and joints.