What is Bone Broth?
You may have heard of bone broth. Kobe Bryant even likes to drink it after his workouts. A quick Google search may leave you with the impression that bone broth is quite certainly an elixir full of almost magic-like powers. But what exactly is bone broth? And does bone broth actually measure up to the hype surrounding it?
Assertions have arisen that not only can bone broth improve your joint function, help wounds heal more quickly, and regulate the immune system, but that it can also help rebuild bones by promoting collagen growth. Currently, there are very few scientific studies that can actually back up these claims.1
We hate to burst the trending bone broth bubble, but we simply must. There is nothing new about bone broth except for the alliterative name. More commonly known as stock, bone broth has been the basis of soups for centuries.2 Bone broth, as the name suggests, is made from simmering the bones of poultry, beef, pig, wild game, or fish.3 Now, let’s see how the claims about bone broth hold up under further scrutiny.
Is bone broth really the next sports recovery drink as Kobe Bryant suggests? For those who could stomach it, possibly. Electrolytes are lost through sweat when you physically exert yourself. If not replaced, your body will not have all of the necessary minerals and vitamins it needs. Registered dietitian, Rebecca Mohning, in an article published by NPR confirms that bone broth can help replace a particular electrolyte often loss during physical exercise--sodium. Mohning, however, is quick to qualify her statement by noting that there is no single magic food or ingredient.4 Healthy living and eating ultimately requires a balanced diet full of a variety of nutrients that no one food source can provide
Can bone broth boost collagen production and improve bone growth? In Nourishing Broth, the authors claim that this is possible due to the collagen content of the bone broth itself. Bone broth does indeed contain collagen. However, it cannot be predicted how this collagen will be used by the body. During the digestion process, the collagen contained by the bone broth will break down into amino acids that the body will use as needed. “Collagen in” does not equal “collagen out”. Instead “collagen in” simply translates into additional amino acids ready for your body to use as it sees fit.5
Bone broth may not be a magic elixir, but it does have some potential health benefits!
Animal bones contain essential minerals that our bodies need such as calcium, phosphorous, sodium, magnesium, potassium, sulfur, and silicon. Bone broth can be a great supplement to your diet, particularly if you are not getting the minerals and proteins you need from other sources.6
Ever wonder why everyone says to eat chicken noodle soup when you have a cold? Chicken bone broth (otherwise known as stock) has been shown to reduce inflammation, helping to alleviate many symptoms common to upper respiratory infections.7 To make your own chicken stock, check out EatSmarter’s step-by-step recipe here.
The bottom line is that bone broth is nothing new. Chicken and beef stock, in particular, have been around for ages, hiding under your nose and in your soup! You do not need to purchase artisanal bone broth at a greatly inflated price when you can simply buy the less fashionable stock or make your own. This year, instead of throwing away that turkey carcass after Thanksgiving dinner is over, try making your own bone broth! Find out how here.
Pescatarian? EatSmarter has got you covered with this recipe for fish stock.
1. Amy Blaszyk, "Taking Stock Of Bone Broth: Sorry, No Cure-All Here," The Salt: What's On Your Plate, NPR, 10 Feb. 2015, Web.; Freydis, Hjalmarsdottir, MS, "What Is Bone Broth, and What Are The Benefits?" Authority Nutrition, Authority Nutrition, 17 Aug. 2016, Web.
2. Blaszyk, "Taking Stock Of Bone Broth: Sorry, No Cure-All Here."; Andrew, Weil, MD, "Is Bone Broth Really Healthy?" Ask Dr. Weil, Weil Lifestyle, 26 June 2015, Web.
3. Blaszyk, "Taking Stock Of Bone Broth: Sorry, No Cure-All Here."; Hjalmarsdottir, MS, "What Is Bone Broth, and What Are The Benefits?"; Markham Heid, "Science Can’t Explain Why Everyone Is Drinking Bone Broth," Health: Diet/Nutrition, Time, Inc., 6 Jan. 2016, Web.
4. Blaszyk, "Taking Stock Of Bone Broth: Sorry, No Cure-All Here."
5. Blaszyk, "Taking Stock Of Bone Broth: Sorry, No Cure-All Here." ; Hjalmarsdottir, MS, "What Is Bone Broth, and What Are The Benefits?"
6. Ibid.; Heid, "Science Can’t Explain Why Everyone Is Drinking Bone Broth."
7. Blaszyk, "Taking Stock Of Bone Broth: Sorry, No Cure-All Here."