Would you like some collagen in your cappuccino?’ asks the server in AT Feast, a trendy new health-focused cafe in London’s swanky St John’s Wood.
Forget sugar or sweetener, it seems this is the new add-on, and it is far from the only food business trying to add collagen, the most abundant protein in the body, to our daily diet.
Collagen forms connective fibres in everything from skin to cartilage. It basically holds our bodies together but, as we age, we produce less of the stuff, which can lead to wrinkles and a weakening of joint cartilage.
But is the latest fad for adding collagen to everything, from coffee and smoothies to popcorn and ready meals, any more than just hype?
Sudi Pigott gives verdict on a selection of foods and supplements containing collagen – including Beauty Bites (pictured)
Maggie Bolger, the cafe’s owner, says: ‘I’ve been devotedly adding collagen creamer to my coffee every day for the past six months and friends have commented on my glowing skin.’
But functional nutrition expert Catherine Sharman, founder of ready meals Après Food, says: ‘Although adding collagen to your diet contributes to the amino acid pool in the body [the building blocks of all proteins], the body will use them as it needs — which may not be for collagen production at all.’
She says foods that deliver the nutrients the body uses to support collagen production are more important: fish, dairy, poultry, eggs, sesame seeds and soya beans, combined with grains, beans and pulses.
But if you can’t get your daily intake naturally, you may want to try the following . . .
Beauty Bites, £2.29 each, hollandand barrett.com
What is it? Protein bars billed as ‘bars with benefits’. New to the UK and made with bovine collagen, alongside probiotics, prebiotics, vitamin C, vitamin E, they are also low sugar with certified Fair Trade chocolate and cocoa butter.
How to use it: They claim to help restore collagen levels and mitigate signs of ageing by improving skin hydration, elasticity and a reduction in fine lines, as well as supporting digestive health and strengthening hair and nails. Eat one bar a day for six to eight weeks.
Verdict: I’ve only had one bar a day for two weeks, but my skin looks glowy. They also taste great.4.5/5
Dose & Co Dairy Free Collagen Creamer, £29.99 for 340g, hollandand barrett.com
Sudi said Dose & Co Dairy Free Collagen Creamer (pictured) dissolves well in both cappuccino and a coconut milk smoothie
What is it? Creamer — a powder added in place of milk to tea or coffee — in vanilla or caramel flavour. It’s made from coconut milk powder, bovine collagen and natural flavouring, and is gluten-free. It is a high-strength dose of 10g promising results fast.
How to use it: Add one heaped tbsp (20g) to a large (200ml) mug of coffee, tea, dairy-free milk or smoothie once a day to provide 10g collagen.
Verdict: It dissolves well in both cappuccino and a coconut milk smoothie, but I found it made my coffee sticky and the ‘natural flavouring’ of vanilla (marginally better) or caramel (artificial) cloying.3/5
VERY FISHY SHAKE
Hunter & Gather Marine Collagen Peptides Protein Powder, £26.95 for 300g, hunterand gatherfoods.com
Sudi said Hunter & Gather Marine Collagen Peptides Protein Powder (pictured) has a distinctly fishy aroma
What is it? Unflavoured marine collagen protein powder from wild and sustainably caught whitefish from the Atlantic.
How to use it: Add 10g of marine collagen daily into any hot or cold drink and consume with or without food — you can even sprinkle it on yoghurt. Take two tbsp (10g) daily.
Verdict: Even though I love eating fish, I found the distinctly fishy aroma off-putting. However I used it — in cappuccinos, jasmine tea, almond shakes — that fishy fragrance persisted, which I found deeply unpleasant, especially when I could taste a fishiness, too. 2/5
Vegan Vitality Matcha Latte, £32 for 329g, vitalproteins.co.uk
Sudi said Vegan Vitality Matcha Latte (pictured) is best with almond milk and a little raw honey
What is it? Matcha green tea and collagen from algae.
How to use it: Mix with hot water, milk or plant milk. Take two tbsp a day.
Verdict: I recommend drinking this with almond milk with a little raw honey. It makes me feel more alert, although that could well have been the tea rather than the collagen.3.5/5
Foodin Ginger & Lime Collagen Protein Bar, £2.99, planetorganic.com
Sudi said Foodin Ginger & Lime Collagen Protein Bar (pictured) has a good crunchy texture and proper nutty taste
What is it? A bar made with grass-fed bovine collagen, cashew nuts, almonds, brazil nuts, dried lime, coconut nectar, puffed rice and sunflower seeds.
How to use it: Gluten & dairy-free bar with a boost of probiotics — one a day recommended either in the morning or after a workout. It claims to help maintain hair, skin, nails, tendons and ligaments.
Verdict: A good crunchy texture and proper nutty taste with the added tang of ginger and lime.4/5
Planet Paleo Pure Collagen Keto Coffee, £28.99 for 213g, planet organic.com
Sudi said Planet Paleo Pure Collagen Keto Coffee (pictured) is reasonably tasty and refreshing with nut milk
What is it? A mix of pure bovine collagen, roasted coffee, coconut oil powder, cardamom and vanilla.
How to use it: This is an instant coffee for on-the-move convenience. Add to hot water or hot milk or blend with cold nut milk and ice.
Verdict: With hot water, it was revolting, far worse than Nescafe or other instant coffee, but with a nut milk it was very acceptable and reasonably tasty and refreshing.2/5