Bone broth is promoted as a “super-soup”, rich in collagen and minerals. But in reality, this eye-watering expensive broth is a poor source of nutrition and can’t boost your skin or help your joints as claimed.
Bone broth is huge in the wellness industry right now, with celebrity devotees including ex-Lakers star Kobe Bryant, Gwynnie Paltrow and Salma Hayek all extolling its supposed wonders.
If you like being separated from your cash without gaining any proven benefit, I’d advise you go ahead and get stuck into this fad. We have a wide range of best chicken bone broth at Bone Broth
Make sure the broth is organic, grass-fed, hormone, antibiotic and GMO-free and has been slowly bubbled in a cauldron with a sprinkle of powdered unicorn horn and it will be even more worthwhile splashing out on.
Because, quite obviously, the more mysterious and exclusive your bone broth, the more health benefits you are going to reap. It might taste like ditch water and cost $7.49 $10, or even $12 for 16 ounces before additions, but remember it’s not deliciousness that counts but the HUGE HEALTH BENEFITS….and YOU’RE WORTH IT.
Except, of course, the last two paragraphs were my feeble attempt at ironic humour, and bone broth is just an unremarkable savoury drink. Can’t we all just go back to calling it stock now?
Concerns About Bone Broth
There are toxicological issues associated with production and processing of meat, such as the presence of various toxic contaminants—from dioxins and PCBs to cooked meat carcinogens. Carcinogenesis, the development of cancer, maybe the main concern, but there are a number of other toxic responses connected with the consumption of meat products. Lead, for example, can be toxic to the nerves, gastrointestinal tract, bone marrow, and kidneys.
Where is lead found in the food supply? In general terms, the highest levels of lead, as well as arsenic and mercury, are found in fish. Sardines have the most arsenic, but tuna may have sardines beat when it comes to mercury and lead. Looking for chicken bone broth ? Look no further! Bone Broth has you covered.
The problem is that “fish-consumption advisories related to human health protection do not consider the fish by-products fed to farmed animals,” like farmed fish. If some tilapia are fed tuna by-products, they could bioaccumulate heavy metals and pass them onto us when we eat them. Researchers found the highest levels in frozen sole fillets, averaging above the legal limit for lead.
Lead exposure has been shown to have adverse effects on nearly every organ system in the body. Symptoms of chronic exposure range from memory loss and constipation to impotence and depression. These symptoms present after pretty hefty exposure, though. However, we now know that “[b]lood lead levels in the range currently considered acceptable are associated with increased prevalence of gout and hyperuricemia” (elevated levels of uric acid in the blood). According to the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization, a blood lead level needs to be less than 25 micrograms per deciliter to be “non-elevated.” You’d assume that at values under 25, there’d be no relationship with health outcomes, but even throughout this “acceptable” range, lower lead means lower uric acid levels and lower gout risk. So, even blood lead levels 20 times below the acceptable level can be associated with an increased prevalence of gout. “These data suggest that there is no such thing as a ‘safe’ level of exposure to lead.”
Once lead gets into the body, it tends to stay in the body. It builds up in the bones such that it may take 30 years just to get rid of half. The best strategy? Don’t get exposed in the first place.
If lead builds up in bones, though, what about boiling bones for broth? As I discuss in my video Lead Contamination in Bone Broth, we know bones sequester lead, which can then leach from the bones. So, researchers suggested that “the bones of farmyard animals will sequester lead, some of which will then be released into the broth during its preparation.” Who eats bone broth? Bone broth consumption is encouraged by many advocates of the paleo diet. Online, you can learn all about purported “benefits” of bone broth, but what they don’t tend to mention is the theoretical risk of lead contamination—or at least it was theoretical until now. Broth made from chicken bones was found to have markedly high lead concentrations, up to a ten-fold increase in lead. Researchers concluded, “In view of the dangers of lead consumption to the human body, we recommend that doctors and nutritionists take the risk of lead contamination into consideration when advising patients about bone broth diets.”
But what if you only use bones from organic, free-range chickens? They did use only bones from organic, free-range chickens.
It’s Not New
At what point plain old “broth” became “bone broth”, growing mystic, medical powers along with the extra syllable, is unclear. But it was probably around the same time that savvy marketing bods realized they could sell, at inflated prices, the same stock that grandma made from beef bones and the scrag end of a poultry carcass.
The clever, if disreputable bit, has been convincing the gullible that it’s worth paying a small fortune for as it’s going to ease osteoarthritis, aid in weight loss, fight inflammation and smooth out wrinkles.
We’ve been boiling up bones for centuries. Jewish chicken soup, Brazilian pozole and various Asian clear broths all have a stock base made from bones. But, except chicken soup, nobody has had the chutzpah to make any significant health claims for humble “bone broth” – until now.
And goodness, those talking up bone broth are doing it big. The small problem is that they’re completely neglecting to back their claims with reliable science.
Believe it or not, boiling down bones and the other remnants of animals have been a common human practice for ages. The idea that it’s such an ancient method of food prep is partially the reason Paleo eaters and artisan foodies have jumped on the bone bandwagon. And everyone can agree that slow-boiled, organic, whole-food ingredients make for a far superior product than the standard dehydrated bouillon cubes that have long been available in grocery stores for less than $2.00 a pop. So it’s only natural that the supremacy of these ‘new,’ artisanal bone broths should reflect that difference in cost, right? Besides lacking the chemicals and excess sodium of the bouillon, the nutritional profile of bone broth is certain superior, isn’t it? Not so fast.
The Health Claims Are Suspect
Claiming bone broth as the newest superfood hinges on a few mistaken beliefs about nutrition. The first nutritional myth is that we need the proteins found in bone broth, specifically proline and glycine. Yes, we indeed need these amino acids to maintain collagen, blood pressure and healthy tissues. Fortunately, our bodies make these amino acids themselves, so consuming them in broth form not only can be dangerous (researchers have found that over-consumption of animal protein can lead to disease and early death) but those excess amino acids will simply be flushed out in the urine. Bone Broth has a wide range of best chicken bone broth in Melbourne
The second myth is that collagen levels can be boosted by simply consuming more collagen. Collagen is a necessary ingredient for a firm, supple skin, joints and tendons. However, again, our bodies produce collagen on our own. A better way to boost our collagen levels is by eating a diet rich in foods that support its production, rather than taxing it.
Of bigger concern than the nutrient value of bone broth are the extra dangers than may be lurking in the bones of the animals themselves, such as heavy metal lead. High levels of lead are toxic and can lead to a host of problems. Because animals can easily be exposed to high levels of lead in their environment, which then leeches into their bones, researchers have discovered an alarming amount of lead present in various bone broths. Broth supporters claim that the calcium present in bone broth will protect the absorption of any lead, however, though calcium intake has been shown to minimize lead absorption, there just isn’t a whole lot of soluble calcium available in bone broth.
Bone broth makers assert their products are superior to plain old stock because of higher quality ingredients and slower, longer cook time. But there is virtually zero research into the health attributes of bone broths, and a zillion different recipes, so it’s impossible to make generalizations.
It can be acknowledged that most do have a reasonable amount of protein – typically 6-10 grams a cup, or about the same as in a boiled egg – and collagen contributes significantly to this protein tally. But the claim that this collagen will plump the complexion and ease arthritis – implying that it will make a beeline for your skin and joints – is complete nonsense.
What actually happens is that collagen, like all other ingested proteins, is broken down by the digestive system into amino acids, which the body uses as needed for whatever purpose required. And as collagen researcher Brooke Russell pointed out in another article for ACSH about the daftness of adding collagen to coffee, collagen’s molecular structure breaks down in hot fluid anyway, so its degradation has already begun in bone broth way before it gets into your body.
Insignificant vitamin and mineral content
Another favourite claim is that bone broth is a good source of calcium (sort of logical you might think, as bones are indeed a concentrated source of this mineral). But all that long slow-boiling only draws out a small amount of the mineral, with a typical amount of calcium per cup being just 4% of the Daily Value (DV).
A cup of bone broth may also supply 2-6% of the DV of iron, but precious little else of interest and can easily contain 13-19% of the DV of sodium.
Indeed way back in 1934, early nutritional analysis pioneers Professor Robert McCance and Elsie Widdowson published their findings (in the Archives of Disease in Childhood) that stock made from bones was a poor source of nutrients.
A 2017 paper also concluded bone broth has insignificant mineral nutrients while highlighting that it contains heavy metals – not in levels of concern but present nonetheless. It’s interesting to note that the bone broth promoters don’t rush to mention this!
Some bone broths can also be a decent source of vitamin A, but not on account of the bones. Instead, bone broths that contain vitamin A usually have added carrots as a flavouring.
That’s because at the end of the day you usually have to add other ingredients to make the bone broth taste nice and be more nutritious – which just makes it a good old bowl of soup really and you don’t want to be paying over the odds for that.
It may contain harmful additives
With the popularity of bone broth, and manufacturers trying to keep up, low-grade varieties will always find their way onto grocery store shelves. And like all processed foods, pre-made bone broth may contain harmful preservatives, additives, artificial colours, fillers and flavour enhancers that will send your body out of whack. Make sure you scan the label before you buy. There are four ingredients you should see: meat, water, bones and salt. If you can, it’s always better to make your own bone broth rather than going for a pre-made variety. One step better is to use an organic variety of meat.
It’s Gross and Inhumane
Even if the overpriced hype and the nutritionally void and dangerous profile of bone broth don’t scare you, the simple fact that it comes from the boiled-down-to-gelatinous remains of a once-living, sentient being should. Not only is the concept of bone broth inhumane, but it’s unnatural and disgusting to boot.
Bone Broth: #Paleo Goodness or Lead Toxicity Risk?
The consumption of bone marrow and bone broths have become more commonplace, and even hip, with the rise in popularity of the Paleo Diet, Perfect Health Diet and GAPS Diet. Bone broths are meant to be a staple in evolutionary-type diets as a rich source of calcium and other minerals. It is made by submerging bones and any other uneaten part of the animal in the water and simmering for 12 to 48 hours. This process allows the minerals to dissolve into the water as the bones and cartilage disintegrate. Bone broth is thus rich in calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, collagen (which is made of protein, specifically the amino acids proline and glycine), glucosamine, chondroitin, keratin and hyaluronic acid.
These constituents are nutritionally useful for many of the body’s physiological processes, including:
- Bone growth and repair (especially if you stress fractured your feet wearing barefoot runners)
- Glucose production and blood detoxification by the liver
- Tissue healing and maintenance
- Plasma production
- Digestion and absorption of nutrients
- Muscle contraction
- Thyroid function
Sounds great, right? Bone broths are certainly powerful food and quite important when dairy is not being consumed. However, a study was recently published in the journal Medical Hypotheses raising concerns of lead contamination in commercially-available bone broths. Lead toxicity in humans can cause reproductive and gastrointestinal problems, neuropathy, anemia, abdominal pain, memory impairment, and depression, and recent studies suggest that even small amounts of lead exposure can cause trouble.
Lead is stored in bones, and thus it was hypothesized that the lead concentration in bone broths would greatly exceed that of tap water. The researchers investigated three different broths made with tap water and organic chicken bones, meat without the bones, and skin and cartilage without the bones. The tap water used to make the broths had 89 parts per billion of lead. The bone broth contained 700 parts per billion, and the skin and cartilage broth contained 950 parts per billion. This may sound alarming at first, but keep in mind that the legal limit for lead in drinking water is 1500 parts per billion. The benefits of bone broths may surpass the increased exposure to lead, but this is likely both dosage-dependent and individual. It’s also unclear whether pasture-raised animals, preferred in the Paleo Diet, might have less lead in their bones than standard grain-fed animals (organic or not). Certain individuals and populations, like pregnant women, should take greater care to avoid lead exposure.
If you frequently consume bone broths, one prudent measure would be to have your doctor order a blood test for lead and possibly erythrocyte protoporphyrin (EP), which will see if your recent bone broth ingestion pattern has resulted in significant lead exposure.
You’re probably wondering why I’m calling it bone broth instead of just broth. Isn’t broth just made from bones always, and the only reason to be specific is if you’re making vegetable broth? Yes, it is. So why the redundancy? Because market research shows that it’s easier to get credulous New Yorkers to pay $9 for a 15¢ cup of SOUP WITH NO NOODLES OR VEGGIES OR MEAT when you gussy up the name with a second word.
First and foremost, the price. Yeah, that’s particularly offensive. This stuff is utterly simple. It’s caveman food. We invented it just after we committed genocide against the Neanderthals. In 2015, it was cast as a new-age, transformative cure-all—as though cultures around the world haven’t already been gulping broth to survive for millennia. You can make a GALLON of this stuff for less than $5. So why are people lining up for $9 cups of the stuff?
It’s not vegetarian or vegan-friendly
For those of us who stick to a plant-based diet without meat and dairy, it may be impossible to get around the fact that bone broth contains, well, animal bones. But if you can stomach it, at least go for the organic, free-range variety to ensure that the animal had the best life possible. If you can’t stomach it, try some of these foods for some of the same vitamins and minerals:
- Foods with collagen: Look for red vegetables (tomatoes, peppers beets), dark green vegetables (spinach, kale), carrots, sweet potatoes, blackberries, raspberries, oranges, limes, lemons, grapefruits, soy, white tea.
- Foods with glucosamine: For pescatarian people, there’s shrimp, lobster, crab and crawfish. But if that won’t work for you, you may consider supplements.
- Foods with glycine: Check out soybeans, spirulina, dairy products and legumes.
- Foods with magnesium: Try dark leafy greens, seeds, nuts, beans, avocados, whole grains and dark chocolate. Love that last one!
Now that you know the pros and cons of bone broth, here’s a delicious recipe to try and see how it works for you. Remember, it’s important to source organic meat, which is better for the animals, your health and the environment. Check out our Melbourne chicken bone broth here.
For some, bone broth may be a superfood. But for others, bone broth may be a nightmare. That’s because it contains high levels of glutamate (different from MSG), a neurotransmitter used for learning and memory. Some sources warn that the glutamate in bone broth may cause seizures or exacerbate conditions including leaky gut, an autoimmune disorder, autism, ADD, multiple sclerosis and other neurological disorders. According to this doctor, some individuals may experience fatigue, disorientation, skin rash or joint pain after consumption. If you, a loved one or a child is having any neurological complications to bone broth, stop eating it immediately and see a physician.