By Sarah Raza
A beverage known among paleo-diet lovers, the bone broth brew has now reached a mass appeal as it has become known for its restorative properties and immense nutritional benefits. Bone broth is made from connective tissues and animal bones – typically from fish, chicken, or cattle- that have been boiled into a broth and slow simmered with herbs, vegetables, and spices. The simmering bones in water over a long period of time is what draws out its nutrients and minerals into the liquid. As a matter of fact, studies have shown that the amount of calcium and magnesium that are extracted from bones generally increase with cooking time. So why is everyone going crazy over this simple liquid now?
Although bone broth has only recently taken the Western world by a storm, it has been around since our ancestors were hunters and gatherers. Since food was hard to come by, throwing away anything edible was out of the question. Animal hooves, knuckles, bones, and other connective tissues were simmered, thus never going to waste. In Asia, bone broth is hardly seen as a trend, as it never really went away. It has a rich history of being used in traditional Chinese medicines as a digestive tonic, blood builder, and kidney strengthener due to the presence of collagen, minerals, amino acids, and other healing compounds only found in bones and connective tissues. Bottled essence of chicken has even been prized for its ability to boost concentration in school-aged children.
So what exactly are the benefits of bone broth?
When many people hear of bone broth, they scrunch up their nose. Admittedly, some have testified that it doesn’t smell or taste all too good, but its properties make it stand out to be some sort of elixir. Here are some of the reasons people are going out of their way to incorporate bone broth into their diets:
It contains many nutrients
Bones are rich in vitamins and nutrients, including, as stated above, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorous. The brewing of connective tissue into bone broth provides the body with natural compounds from cartilage, which is found in our teeth, joints, and other vital parts of our body. Tissues and bones also contain collagen, and cooking collagen turns it to gelatin, which therefore provides the body with amino acids as a building block for the proteins in our body. It’s not clear which type of bones are best for the most nutritional value, so it is best to include a variety of bones and tissues while cooking.
Specifically, bone marrow has plenty of nutrients such as:
- Vitamins A and K
- Fatty acids
Adding other ingredients, such as vegetables, can also enhance the nutritional value. Pretty amazing right?
It may protect the joints
Seeing that cartilage and collagen are found in bone broth, it’s no surprise that bone broth can help strengthen joints. Over time, our joints wear down from strain and continual use, which is why joint pain is commonly found among the elderly. Both laboratory and animal studies have shown that gelatin supplementation increases the amount of collagen in the tissues, thus protecting our joints from wearing down.
It can aid weight loss
Since bone broth is high in protein, it helps the body feel fuller longer and wards off cravings. A study in the Journal of Renal Nutrition highlights that the average cup of chicken bone broth contains much more protein than regular chicken broth, so if you’re looking for a high-impact snack between meals, this is a perfect option.
(Table from: https://www.jrnjournal.org/article/S1051-2276(17)30181-4/fulltext)
The gelatin found in bone broth is a soothing mechanism to the digestive tract, and it helps repair the mucosal lining. It also helps break down proteins and fats, making them easier to digest. Bone broth is hydrophilic, meaning it attracts and holds liquids like digestive juices, helping you digest more efficiently. This is great news for people battling digestive issues such as constipation, diarrhea, and gas. Adding bone broth to your regular diet can help make your stomach feel at ease.
Believe it or not, bone broth not only provides tons of nutrients to your body, but it can also make the outside of you glow. Since collagen is abundant in bone broth, and collagen is also found in our skin, we experience a firmer and more youthful look. Collagen is the essential structural protein that makes your skin strong and smooth. Bone broth is also rich in hyaluronic acid, which is an ingredient found in many high-end wrinkle creams.
Also, the high concentration of essential vitamins and minerals found in bone broth makes it like a ‘drinkable multivitamin’ for your skin. Numerous essential minerals and vitamins are concentrated in bones, including zinc, which is an important mineral for fighting acne and maintaining clear skin. As a matter of fact, zinc has been shown to reduce the activity of P. acnes, which is a bacteria linked to causing breakouts.
But wait, there’s more. Want bright, glowing skin? The alkaline minerals bone broth provides encourage better oxygen flow throughout your body. Other minerals, such as iron and zinc, are also needed to promote wound healing, thus helping to reduce the appearance of red marks and scarring.
Are there any downsides of bone broth?
Although it does seem reasonable that with all the nutrients in bone broth, it has been living up to the hype, there are some things to keep in mind.
Due to the fact that our modern environment is contaminated with heavy metals, animal bones have been known to contain trace amounts of toxic metals. While this study did find trace amounts of several medals in different types of bone broth, the levels were dependent upon a number of factors, including cooking time, type of bone, type of animal, and other ingredients. The study further stated that the toxicity levels of the amount of metals were minimal, there is some risk of hypercalcemia (a condition caused by high levels of calcium in the body), with consuming large amounts of bone broth within short periods. If you are concerned about how metal toxicity may affect you, consult with your doctor before modifying your diet to include bone broth.
Additionally, commercially produced bone broth may contain additives. With its growing popularity, manufacturers are trying to keep up, leading to low-grade varieties finding their way onto grocery store shelves. Like all processed foods, pre-made bone broth may contain additives, preservatives, artificial colors, and flavor enhancers. Although it’s highly recommended that you make your own bone broth from home, if you don’t have a day to spare, scan the label of your bone broth before buying it. The four ingredients you should see are meat, water, bones, and salt.
The foods you include in your diet are essential for maintaining peak health. Properly prepared bone broths are extremely nutritious, as they contain many minerals and amino acids in a form that is easy to ingest. The benefits of bone broth are seemingly endless!