7 Benefits of Bone Broth Even I Know
I remember the first time I saw bone broth, my college roommate who had Lyme disease swore by it. She told me about some of the benefits of bone broth and how it eased the symptoms of her illness. She would always keep a cache of bone broth in the refrigerator and cupboard, and drink cups of it regularly. I steered clear of it at the time because it definitely is not one of my favorite scents. But, I have learned that bone broth can easily be transformed into a delicious, nutrient-packed meal.
Now, I regularly include bone broth in my diet in soup bases and sauces. You can also use bone broth instead of water when cooking rice for tons of added flavor. The possibilities for bone broth are endless. Many consider drinking plain broth to be the most efficient way of acquiring nutritional benefits.
What is Bone Broth?
So what exactly is bone broth, simply bone broth is made from simmering animal bones and connective tissue in water over a long period of time. Bone broth actually dates back to prehistoric times. Hunter-gatherers would grind up the bones and inedible parts of animals, then boil them in an attempt to extract as many calories and nutrients as possible. Bone broth can be created from just about any animal: pork, beef, veal, turkey, lamb, bison, buffalo, venison, chicken, or fish are all possible sources of bone broth. Connective tissues like feet, hooves, beaks, gizzards, or fins can also be used to make bone broth.
Recently bone broth has trended as a new health craze and as a result, there have been many claims about its positive effects. While research shows promising results, there is simply not enough data to verify many of the claimed benefits of bone broth. One thing that is known for sure is that bone broth is a great source of protein. One cup of bone broth contains 6-12 grams of protein. (The average daily recommended amount of protein is 56 grams for men and 46 grams for women.) There are studies to back up two theorized benefits of bone broth:
- Helps clear nasal passages: A 1978 study reported sipping hot chicken soup increased the flow of mucus significantly better than sipping either hot or cold water.
- Reduces inflammation: A study in 2000 determined that chicken soup inhibits the activity of neutrophils or the white blood cells that are the "first responders" of inflammation.
Some say other benefits of bone broth are that it can help strengthen bones, improve skin health, aid in digestion, fight aging, improve joint health, help with weight loss, and improve sleep. While it is possible that bone broth could help in all of these areas there is very little clinical research validating these claims. However, it cannot be denied that bone broth is packed with crucial nutrients our bodies need.
Animal bones are rich in calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and other trace minerals that our bones use. Fishbones also contains iodine, which aids in thyroid function and metabolism. Connective tissue contains glucosamine and chondroitin, these are natural compounds found in cartilage that are known to support joint health. Bone marrow provides vitamin A and K2, it also has minerals like manganese, zinc, iron, boron, and selenium. Bone marrow even has omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Each of these animal byproducts also contains the protein collagen. Collagen turns into gelatin when cooked, this simultaneously creates several important amino acids and helps make soups and sauces thicker. However, since bone broth is so variable, the amount of each of these nutrients is incredibly different for each broth. In addition, many dietary supplements are not able to directly transfer to the corresponding body part. For example, dietary collagen isn't transported directly to your joints or skin.
How to make bone broth yourself
If you want to reap the benefits of bone broth, you might as well make it yourself. Many recipes exist online, but most people don’t use a recipe. All you really need is a large pot, water, vinegar, and bones. But here’s an easy recipe you can follow:
- 1 gallon (4 liters) of water
- 2 tbsp (30 mL) apple cider vinegar
- 2–4 pounds of animal bones
- (Optional) salt and pepper, to taste
- Place all ingredients in a large pot or slow cooker.
- Bring to a boil.
- Reduce to a simmer and cook for 12–24 hours. (longer cooking time results in a more nutritious and more flavorful tasting broth)
- Allow the broth to cool. Strain it into a large container and discard the solids.
*Using a variety of bones is ideal because different animal parts contain slightly different nutrients. Adding apple cider vinegar helps the nutrients within the bones to come out into the broth. Also adding spices and vegetables can make your broth more flavorful and more nutrient-dense. (Check out this article for some ideas on nutrient-packed ingredients.)
Overall I think that bone broth is a great idea. It is a great way to make use of food and nutrients that you would otherwise throw away. Keep your extra bones and veggie scraps in your freezer and when you have a bunch saved up go ahead and make your broth. Since you are going to strain your broth, using the skins and scraps of your ingredients is a great way to let nothing go to waste. Not only is bone broth nutritious, but it is also a great way to reduce waste and make the most out of foods you spend money on. I for one will definitely be cooking some up soon!
Written by Kiana St. Onge