Broth Recipe

The Healing Benefits of Bone Broth

Bone broth is made by simmering healthy animal bones and connective tissues with herbs, vegetables and something acidic over low heat for an extended period of time (24 hours or longer.) The extended heating time, combined with the acidity, helps to extract collagen and all the vitamins and minerals stored within the bones, cartilage and marrow for a more nutritional broth. The broth that comes, as a result, can be used in soups or sipped solo in a mug.  

With bone broth gaining widespread popularity as the newest health trend, it is now well-known as a stand-alone dish itself. People sip warm broths from a mug, with or without a meal, and many pops up broth stands are becoming popular, especially in New York City.

The short answer on why it is so healing is collagen. Most people only recognize the term as a popular ingredient in many anti-aging creams and lotions. But collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies. It is found in muscles, bones, skin, blood vessels, digestive system and tendons. It’s what helps give our skin strength and elasticity, along with replacing dead skin cells. 

After the age of 25, our bodies’ collagen supplies begin to diminish slowly. We can thank this process for the outward signs of aging, such as wrinkles and aching joints. This is why it is so important to ingest collagen (or gelatin) in our diets as we age; to replenish what is being lost. 

The great thing about making homemade bone broth is that it is easy and affordable. You can save the bones or carcass of any meat source and store them in a freezer-friendly bag for when you’re ready to make broth. While any type of bones will do, joints that have numerous ligaments and tendons such as knuckles and feet tend to yield the greatest amount of gelatin, the thick, gooey substance that surfaces to the top of a good broth. Looking for bone broth benefits? Look no further! Bone Broth has you covered.

What Makes It So Healing?

cooking bone broth

Bone broth contains multiple beneficial nutrients like glucosamine, chondroitin or glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), and minerals like phosphorus, calcium and magnesium. More importantly, what seems to be its main beneficial ingredient is gelatin. Gelatin is that jelly-like substance that we often associate with jello (natural forms don’t come in green and blue). Gelatin and other non-muscle meats (e.g. organ meats, skin, marrow) are necessary to balance the methionine levels found in muscle meats. Methionine is an essential amino acid that, when in excess, will readily metabolize to a harmful substrate called homocysteine.

High homocysteine levels have been associated with heart disease and stroke by contributing to plaque formation in arterial walls. It’s also been associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Methionine is the precursor to another amino acid called cysteine, both of which are required for protein synthesis. Methionine is also required in the synthesis of carnitine and S-adenosylmethionine (SAM-e), which both serve multiple biochemical functions, most notably detoxification. The trouble begins when methionine is metabolized in part to homocysteine, which contributes to adverse health effects. To balance the effects of homocysteine, we require another amino acid called glycine. The main source of glycine is animal skin and bones, or the gelatinous parts of the animal–this is where bone broth.

What Does the Research Say About Potential Bone Broth Benefits?

There’s a growing interest in bone broth due to the long list of purported benefits. But what does science say? Does bone broth measure up to these claims?

Claim #1: It’s a Nutritional Goldmine

The bone broth gets a lot of attention for its “unique” nutritional profile. People praise it for being a low calorie, high-protein food and providing minerals, such as calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium.

The earliest study to mention bone broth is from 1937, which looked at the nutritional value of bone and vegetable broths. Both were common ways of nourishing infants at the time. The researchers concluded that while neither was a very good source of nutrition, the broths that provided the highest mineral content contained the most vegetables.

Far more recently, in 2017, a study in the journal Food and Nutrition Research analyzed bone broth and found that it was not an especially good source of calcium or magnesium.

While marketers tout bone broth for its mineral content, it seems the vegetables used in the cooking process — not the bones — may provide many of the helpful nutrients. 

An average cup of bone broth contains zero to 19 mg of calcium and six to nine grams of protein. But when you compare it to some other sources of these nutrients, the protein content isn’t terribly impressive:

  • Collard greens: 1 cup = 150 mg calcium
  • Navy beans (boiled): 1 cup = 126 mg calcium
  • Baked beans: 1 cup = 14 grams protein
  • Unsweetened soymilk (Edensoy): 1 cup = 12 grams protein
  • Peanut butter: 2 tablespoons = 7 grams protein

So yes, bone broth does provide some calcium and protein. But so do many, many other foods.

A cup of cooked kale contains ten times as much calcium as a cup of bone broth. A cup of baked beans contains nearly twice as much protein as a cup of bone broth. And most Americans may be getting too much protein (at least from animal sources), anyway.

Claim #2: It Will Strengthen Bones, Relieve Achy Joints, and Keep Skin Youthful

Collagen is the main protein in your body. It protects your organs, joints, and tendons, hold together bones and muscles and maintain the lining of your gut. Plastic surgeons like it because it promotes skin elasticity. We have a wide range of the best beef bone broth at Bone Broth. 

Your body makes its own collagen, but as you age, you won’t make quite as much of it. So, much of the marketing says that because bone broth contains collagen, it will help your body make more collagen.

Unfortunately, there is no evidence that eating collagen is directly helpful to your body. Many experts agree that because your body doesn’t absorb collagen in its whole form, the idea that eating collagen helps bone growth isn’t borne out in reality. Your body breaks collagen down into amino acids. So, in the end, it’s just another form of protein.

You’ve probably seen collagen supplements sold for skin health. Some research suggests that collagen supplements may help to reduce visible signs of aging — like wrinkles and cellulite — but the collagen in supplements is hydrolyzed or broken down to make it more usable for the body. The collagen in bone broth is not hydrolyzed and does not have the same effects on the body.

If you want to help your body build collagen, the best way is to eat a diet rich in leafy green vegetables because plants offer rich sources of the phytonutrients your body needs to make collagen.

These phytonutrients in plants include:

  • Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, dark leafy greens, bell peppers, kiwi, berries, and broccoli. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can help protect your skin, inside and out.
  • Vitamin E is present in sunflower seeds, almonds, wheat germ, spinach, and broccoli. Vitamin E works with vitamin C to promote collagen synthesis.
  • Vitamin A that’s found in carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squash, dark leafy greens, cantaloupe, and apricots.
  • The amino acids glycine, proline, and lysine are found in dark leafy green vegetables, soy, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
  • The sulphur-containing foods, such as garlic, onion, and members of the cabbage family, may also promote collagen production.

The bottom line is that many vegetables and other plant foods can be powerful allies in keeping your skin young, your bones strong, and your joints healthy.

Claim #3: It Can Cure Your Cold

At some point in your life, you probably had a bowl of chicken noodle soup while sick. It might have even helped you feel better.

Some older research studied the ability of the chicken stock to ease common cold symptoms. And many people say bone broth has (or should have) a similar effect.

While there are no published studies about bone broth and illness in peer-reviewed medical journals, a few have looked at the effects of chicken soup.

A 2000 study in the journal Chest found that chicken soup could prevent white blood cells from migrating — thus preventing the worsening of upper respiratory infection symptoms.

Does Bone Broth Detox Your Body

But it also found that the vegetables in the soup — not the chicken alone — offered inhibitory effects when it came to battling infections. The researchers concluded that chicken soup likely contained multiple substances with medicinal properties. We have a wide range of chicken bone broth at Bone Broth.

Would vegetable soup have been just as effective? Or more effective? We don’t know. But it seems clear that the vegetables, at a minimum, played an important part.

The other chicken soup study, published in 1978, concluded that hot chicken soup was superior to cold liquids in the management of upper respiratory infections, namely in loosening nasal mucous. This sounds impressive — but then again, it’s entirely possible we could say the same thing about any hot liquid, including vegetable broth (perhaps even hot water).

Bone broth may warm your belly, but there’s no evidence that it will cure your cold. If there are immune-boosting effects, they could come from the vegetables used in its preparation.

Claim #4: It’s Good for Your Gut

Advocates claim bone broth is good for digestion and therapeutic for leaky gut syndrome — a condition in which substances can leak from your intestines into your blood.

They say the gelatin will bind water in the digestive tract, protecting the lining of your intestines. Some studies show that potential in rats, but this doesn’t mean bone broth can do the same for humans. We have very different intestinal linings than do rats. It’s possible it could help. But at this point, all we have is a theory.

What’s not a theory, because it’s been well documented, is that you can support your gut health with a variety of fibre-rich plants foods, including fermented foods, which help to maintain a healthy gut microbiome. For more ways to support digestive health with foods, see this article.

Claim #5: It Can Detoxify Your Liver

Bone broth contains the amino acid glycine. There are a few animal studies that suggest glycine supplements can benefit the liver of alcoholic rats, but none have looked at the impact of bone broth on human livers.

It’s doubtful that any single nutrient has the power to detoxify the liver by itself. The best way to protect your liver, and to protect your body from toxins, is by eating a diet that’s high in the entire array of phytonutrients found in whole plant foods.

Check out our article on using phytonutrients to detox your body here.

It’s also helpful to steer clear of absorbing toxic heavy metals in the first place. And that brings us to what may be the most significant problematic fact about bone broth.

10 Creative Ways to Use Bone Broth

Now, this is a health food trend we can get behind: Bone broth is cheap, simple to make, and totally lazy-girl approved, yet it’s FULL of nutrients and brings tons of health benefits. But while bone broth can taste amazing all by itself, most people want more creative ways to consume it. And we’ve got *plenty* of ideas. From soup recipes to warm smoothie recipes, there are plenty of ways to eat them. Here are a few of our favourites.

Simple Shiitake Mushroom Chicken Ramen

Get ready for the best news of your life: There are definitely health benefits to eating ramen — when you make it with fresh ingredients and combine it with a collagen-rich, wholesome bone broth, that is. 

Asian Bone Broth Soup

This Asian soup is slightly spicy and totally healthy. Made with bone broth, carrots, onions, ginger, sesame oil, spinach, and pho (rice noodles), it’s an uber nutritious and comforting dinner choice. 

Secret Ingredient Cauliflower Soup

Guess what the secret ingredient is in this delicious and creamy cauliflower soup? Yep, bone broth.

Fall Bone Broth Latte

We think this delicious drink would be fantastic at *any* time of year. Made with bone broth, sweet potato, garlic, and turmeric, this truly is a superfood beverage.

Mom’s Homemade Chicken Pot Pie

This delicious comfort food is made even more delicious with this healthy hack: Cook the chicken WHOLE overnight in a slow cooker. Then, de-bone the bird and place the bones back in the slow cooker to create a healthy broth. You can sip it while noming on your pot pie, OR use it in place of canned chicken broth in the recipe. 

Sausage Sauerkraut Soup

Talk about a gut-health boosting recipe. Sauerkraut gives this delicious soup a healthy dose of probiotics, while soothing bone broth helps to improve the gut lining. Not to mention, it’s DELICIOUS. 

Savoury Oatmeal With Shiitake, Egg, and Spinach

Can you think of anything more nourishing than oatmeal made with bone broth? That’s exactly what this is, and it’s just as comforting as it sounds. 

Healing Lemon Ginger Bone Broth

Sometimes, it’s best not to complicate things. When you feel like sticking to the classics, sip on this simple yet flavorful bone broth recipe. It’s best enjoyed in a cozy mug on a rainy day.

Bone Broth Risotto With Mushrooms and Crispy Shallots

This classic risotto is simmered in bone broth, which infuses the rice with an extra punch of savoury flavour. Also in this savour-worthy dish: peas, parsley, shallots, white wine, and garlic. 

Easy Chicken Enchiladas

Ever wonder how restaurants get their enchiladas to be SO moist and flavorful? The secret is bone broth. Now you can DIY this insanely good dish at home.

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