Kara Swanson is a certified nutritionist and the founder of Life Well Lived. She is married to her best friend and the proud mother of three. Her passion is to make nutrition simple+easy+delicious!
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Points to Consider:
This also gives them more texture and flavor variance, if that’s something you appreciate. That being said, jams and preserves aren’t automatically healthier as they can also include artificial ingredients and excess sugar.
If you're looking for a healthy option, look for lower amounts of sugar, less additives, and more fruit (more on that below).
A simple healthy swap for jelly is to use a jam instead. It typically has less sugar (but make sure you read the labels to ensure it isn't loaded with sugar!) and it is higher in fiber, making it a great way to still get some sweetness on your toast but in a healthier way.
Society has come pretty far in terms of creating the best flavors for our food, but that doesn't mean they're always high-quality or good for us. Here are some things you should look out for in your jelly.
One thing that will almost invariably be in your jelly, though, is pectin. Pectin is a type of fiber naturally found in all fruit and serves as a gelling agent. Some fruits, such as lemons, apples, and cranberries, have higher amounts of pectin and thus may not need additional pectin to turn them into jam or jelly.
On the other hand, most other fruits will likely require added pectin. In the healthiest jellies, pectin should be the only added gelling agent, so try to avoid other stabilizers, gums, and additives.
It can be confusing when you're looking at labels to know what's healthy and what's unhealthy. A good rule of thumb when it comes to jellies and jams is to look for real fruit, maybe a little sugar, and nothing else. Pectin is okay and acts as a natural gelling agent, but if there is much more than that, try another jelly or jam.
For reference, the daily amount of added sugar intake recommended by the American Heart Association is 36 grams of sugar for men and 25 grams for women. If you go any higher than 8 grams per serving, that can be up to a third of your daily limit!
On the other hand, some jellies lower their sugar content by using artificial sweeteners. Check the ingredients list to see what kind of sweeteners they use. Some people have sensitivities to stevia or erythritol, and if you aren’t sure if your body can handle it, artificial sweeteners may be best to avoid.
Sugar is going to be in jelly and jam but you should be aware and conscious of how much sugar is actually added per serving. It's important to also note where the sugar is coming from.
Fruit has natural sugar, which is okay! But then there is added sugar and artificial sugar. I recommend you stay away from artificial sugar as much as possible, especially sucralose.
Most jellies will be vegan or gluten-free since they're naturally free of both animal products and gluten, but if you want to be 100% sure, look for official certification on the label or the company's website as well.
Don't be afraid to do a little research and take charge of your health. If you are unsure about anything a product claims, are confused about the label, or have a question about what's in their product, reach out and ask them. Knowledge is power and it's important to ask questions when it comes to the food we are consuming on a daily basis.
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Organic Concord Grape Premium Spread
A Classic Grape Jelly That's Low in Sugar
World of Chia
Chia Strawberry Fruit Spread
A Strawberry Jam That Uses Chia Seeds Instead of Pectin
Mixed Fruit Jam with Herbal Extract Blend
A Low-Glycemic Jam With Special Sugar Can Extract
Trade Street Jam Co.
Strawberry Chipotle + Fig Jam
A Small-Batch, Pectin-Free Jam With a Kick
Newport Jerky Company
One of the Best No-Sugar-Added Jams
Valle de Panchoy
Guava Fruit Preserves
A Tropical Taste for Your Morning Pastry
A Sugar-Free Alternative With Lots of Fruity Taste
Spread the Love
A Delicious, Two-Ingredient, Additive-Free Jam
A Hot Pepper Jelly to Spice Things Up
Sweet Blueberry Jam
A Keto-Friendly and Diet-Friendly Jam
This is a classic grape jelly that sits perfectly between super sweet conventional jellies and not sweet enough health-focused jellies. Reviewers love the flavor and write that it’s thick and spreads like a jam. It’s sweet enough for kids to like it without being overpoweringly sugary.
If you're not too hot on pectin in your fruit spreads, consider this pectin-less alternative! This strawberry fruit spread is made with chia seeds instead. It's also fairly low in sugar, and it only takes four simple ingredients to make it.
Reviewers did warn that the chia seeds aren't crushed or powdered, so that will interrupt an otherwise smooth texture. If you're willing to get past that, though, you'll love the not-too-sweet flavor like many other buyers did!
This herb-infused fruit jam has a low glycemic index (GI), which means that it won’t cause insulin spikes. That's because it's sweetened with special DiaBliss sugar, a mix of cane sugar, pomegranate, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, and more. Reviewers love the sweet, lightly spiced flavor.
This unique jam is sweet and lightly spicy. Unlike most jams, it contains no pectin, instead relying on the natural gelling ability of the fruit it contains. It's also produced in a small-batch facility by a Black women-owned business, so you can feel good about who you're buying from!
This GATOR (ginger, apple, tangerine, orange, raspberry) jam contains no added sugar and is sweetened with only natural sugars from the fruits.
If you're a jelly connoisseur and are looking to try something a bit different, why not try out these healthy guava preserves? It only contains four natural ingredients - no added preservatives or dyes whatsoever.
Reviewers loved the tropical taste of the jam and said it reminded them of their trips to Hawai'i. They suggest spreading it on toast or croissants to take your breakfast to a whole new level.
This jam contains no sugar and is suitable for diabetics. Instead, it’s sweetened with xylitol, a sugar alcohol that tastes like sugar and doesn’t have any adverse health effects! It's also available in five other flavors like strawberry, blueberry, peach, and more.
If you’re just looking for a spread with the fewest ingredients possible and aren’t too concerned with sugar content, this is the jam for you. It has just two ingredients (fruit and sugar) and is packed full of nutrients and antioxidants.
This hot pepper jelly has the perfect balance of sweet and spicy and includes small chunks of peppers for added flavor and texture. It also contains only sugars and cane sugars, so you don't have to deal with any corn syrup (if you're trying to avoid that).
This jam is ideal for those looking to cut down on sugar intake. It’s sweetened with erythritol and stevia, which are both generally considered safe and healthy.
One of my favorite healthy swaps is, instead of using jelly or jam, mashing some raspberries up and topping peanut butter with the fresh raspberries. It's such a yummy treat and an easy way to cut down on sugar.
Another easy swap you can do is by just topping your toast with fresh fruit to add some sweetness. It's easy, healthier, and a fun way to switch your peanut butter sandwich up. Try banana slices, strawberry slices, blueberries, or your favorite fruit!
Jelly's great and all, but what about all the other great condiments out there? Here are some of our favorite picks.
No. 1: Crofter's | Organic Concord Grape Premium Spread
No. 2: World of Chia | Chia Strawberry Fruit Spread | 3 pack
No. 3: DiaBliss | Mixed Fruit Jam with Herbal Extract Blend
No. 4: Trade Street Jam Co. | Strawberry Chipotle + Fig Jam
No. 5: Newport Jerky Company | GATOR Jam
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