Does Gelatin Thicken Your Blood?

If you have heart disease or poor blood flow to your brain, your doctor may recommend you take blood thinners. Blood thinners, such as aspirin and warfarin, are types of medications that help reduce the formation of blood clots. While certain foods can affect how quickly your blood clots, gelatin is not one of them.

Gummy bears, made from gelatin. Credit: Dana_Zurki/iStock/Getty Images

Gelatin

Gelatin is a mixture of proteins that dissolve in hot water and thicken when cooled. It is colorless, tasteless and odorless. Gelatin provides structure to a number of different types of desserts such as mousse, cheesecake and commercial ice cream. It is also used in pates. Gelatin comes from the collagen found in animal bones, skin, cartilage and connective tissue. When you cook meat, the juices in the pan -- if allowed to cool -- will form into a gel from the collagen.

Digestion of Gelatin

While collagen thickens liquids in food, it does not thicken your blood. When you eat gelatin, enzymes in your stomach break the collagen down into small proteins. These proteins move into the small intestines and are broken down by additional enzymes into amino acids. Amino acids are then absorbed and used to make the proteins found in your cells, muscles and organs.

Thickened Blood

The term thickened blood refers to how quickly your blood clots. Platelets are the cells in your blood that promote blood clotting. Under normal conditions, when your blood vessels are injured, clots help to stop bleeding to save your life. However, if your blood vessels are injured due to the effects of smoking or high cholesterol, platelets cannot tell the difference and continue to form clots to repair the injury. The additional blood clots can cause a blockage in your blood vessels and lead to a heart attack or stroke. Blood thinning medications are usually prescribed to help decrease blood clotting.

Foods that Thicken Blood

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in the formation of blood clots. Anticoagulant medications, such as warfarin, work by limiting the effects of vitamin K. When you take anticoagulant medication you need to be careful about the amount of vitamin K in your diet because it can make your medication less effective, increasing your risk of blood clot formation. Your doctor can help you determine your daily vitamin K needs when taking anticoagulants. Foods high in vitamin K you may need to limit or avoid include kale, spinach, parsley and Swiss chard. Gelatin does not contain vitamin K.

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