June 23, 2024

Bone broth may have many nutritional benefits. It is rich in nutrients and may support the health of your bones and digestive system, among other benefits.

Research supporting the benefits of bone broth is limited, but there’s plenty of evidence that the nutrients it provides can be beneficial for health.

This article takes a closer look at bone broth, a recipe for making it, and its potential health benefits.

Bone broth is made by simmering the bones and connective tissue of animals.

This forms a stock for making soups, sauces, and gravies. It can also provide a nutritious drink.

Bone broth dates back to prehistoric times, when hunter-gatherers turned otherwise inedible animal parts like bones, hooves, and knuckles into a broth they could drink.

You can make bone broth using bones from just about any animal — chicken, pork, beef, veal, turkey, lamb, bison, buffalo, venison, or fish.

Marrow and connective tissues like feet, hooves, beaks, gizzards, or fins can also be used.

Summary

Bone broth is made by boiling down animal bones and connective tissue. This nutrient-dense stock is used for soups, sauces, and health drinks.

Making bone broth is very simple. There are many recipes online, but most people don’t even use a recipe.

All you really need is a large pot, water, vinegar, and bones.

To get you started, here’s an easy recipe you can follow:

Ingredients

  • 1 gallon (4 liters) of water
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) apple cider vinegar
  • 2–4 pounds (about 1–2 kg) of animal bones
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients in a large pot or slow cooker.
  2. Bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 12–24 hours. The longer it cooks, the better it will taste and the more nutritious it will be.
  4. Allow the broth to cool. Strain it into a large container and discard the solids.

To add nutritional value, use a variety of bones: marrow bones, oxtail, knuckles, and feet.

Adding vinegar is important because it helps pull all of the valuable nutrients out of the bones and into the water, which is ultimately what you will be consuming.

You can also add vegetables, herbs, or spices to your broth to enhance the flavor.

Common additions include garlic, onion, celery, carrot, parsley, and thyme. You can add these in step one.

Summary

Bone broth is made by simmering bones in water and vinegar. You can also add other ingredients to create more flavor.

Bone broth can be nutritious, but the precise nutritional content will depend on the bones you use.

  • Animal bones are rich in calcium, magnesium, and other vitamins and minerals needed to build and strengthen your own bones. However, only small amounts of these nutrients — less than 5% of daily value — actually make it into the broth.
  • Marrow provides vitamins A and B and minerals like zinc, iron, calcium, and selenium.
  • All these parts also contain the protein collagen, which turns into gelatin when cooked and yields several important amino acids.

Simmering the ingredients releases their nutrients into the water in a form your body can easily absorb.

Are collagen or gelatin supplements best?

Summary

Bone broth is rich in minerals that help build and strengthen your bones. It also contains many other healthy nutrients, including vitamins, amino acids, and essential fatty acids.

A healthy digestive tract is essential for well-being.

Bone broth is easy to digest and may help prevent inflammation related to your digestive tract.

Experiments on animals with colitis have suggested that gelatin may protect and heal the mucosal lining of the digestive tract. However, more research is needed to confirm this.

Gelatin contains an amino acid called glutamic acid. This converts to glutamine in the body and helps maintain the function of the intestinal wall. It may help prevent and heal a condition known as “leaky gut,” a symptom of several chronic gastrointestinal diseases.

A leaky gut is when damage occurs between the barrier between your gut and the bloodstream, allowing substances to leak from your gut into your bloodstream. This can lead to inflammation and other problems.

A 2021 mouse study also concluded that the amino acids in bone broth have anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce damage to the gut due to ulcerative colitis.

For all of these reasons, drinking bone broth may be beneficial for individuals with a range of gastrointestinal conditions.

Get some more tips on managing gut inflammation.

Summary

The gelatin in bone broth supports healthy digestion. It may be beneficial for individuals with leaky gut, as well as irritable and inflammatory bowel diseases.

The amino acids found in bone broth, including glycine and arginine, have anti-inflammatory properties.

In 2015, for instance, one animal study showed that when mice with asthma took oral arginine, they experienced an improvement in airway inflammation and other symptoms of asthma.

Chronic inflammation has been linked to various serious diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and cancer.

Including anti-inflammatory foods in the diet, such as bone broth, may help reduce the risk of these diseases.

How do you get started on an anti-inflammatory diet?

Summary

The amino acids in bone broth can help fight inflammation. Because of this, eating it may help protect against disease.

Collagen is the main protein found in bones, tendons, and ligaments.

While cooking bone broth, collagen from bones and connective tissue breaks down into another protein called gelatin.

Gelatin contains important amino acids that support joint health.

These include proline and glycine, which your body uses to build its own connective tissue. Connective tissue is the main component of tendons, which connect muscles to bones, and ligaments, which connect bones to each other.

However, the amounts of these amino acids are much lower in bone broth than the “therapeutic dose” found in supplements.

Which supplements can help with joint pain?

Summary

The amino acids in bone broth help support joint health, and consuming it may help lessen the symptoms of osteoarthritis.

Bone broth is typically low in calories, but it can still satisfy hunger.

There is some evidence that people who consume soups are less likely to develop obesity. This suggests that soups may play a role in managing weight.

Bone broth is high in protein, and some evidence suggests a high protein diet can also help manage weight, as it is satisfying and can help a person feel full.

In 2015, a study involving 53 males found that, combined with resistance training, collagen supplements helped increase muscle mass and decrease body fat.

However, a 2019 study noted that bone broth is unlikely to contain levels of collagen similar to those in supplements. Also, the collagen levels and quality in bone broth will be more variable than those provided by supplements.

What does a weight loss plan look like?

Summary

The gelatin in bone broth has been shown to help promote feelings of fullness. Consuming it on a regular basis may reduce calorie intake and lead to weight loss over time.

The amino acid glycine, found in bone broth, may help you relax. Some research has suggested that glycine may help promote sleep.

One older study found that taking 3 grams of glycine before bed significantly improved the quality of sleep in individuals who had difficulty sleeping.

Taking glycine before bed helped participants:

  • fall asleep faster
  • maintain a deeper sleep
  • wake up fewer times throughout the night

This study also found that glycine helped reduce daytime sleepiness and improve mental function and memory.

Therefore, drinking bone broth could have similar benefits.

However, according to this source, the amount of glycine in a 1-cup serving of bone broth can vary from 500-1700 mg (0.5-1.7 g). So you would need to drink 2-6 cups of bone broth to reach the same dose of glycine used in the study.

Get some tips for sleeping better.

Summary

Glycine has been shown to promote sleep. Taking it before bed may help improve the quality of sleep, mental function, and memory.

Here are some additional tips for making and consuming bone broth.

Where to get bones

Instead of throwing leftover bones and carcasses from meals in the garbage, save them to make broth.

You can collect the bones in a bag and store them in your freezer until you are ready to cook them.

If you don’t usually buy and eat whole chickens or bone-in meat, you can ask for them at your local butcher or farmers’ market. The meat department at most grocery stores will often have them too.

Bones tend to be inexpensive to purchase, and the butcher may even give them to you for free.

Bones from pastured chicken or grass-fed beef bones will most likely provide the maximum health benefits, as they will be from the healthiest animals.

How to store broth

It’s easiest to make broth in large batches, but you can only store it safely in the refrigerator for 3–4 days.

If you need it longer than this, you can freeze it in small containers and defrost individual servings as you need.

Ways to eat it

If you don’t enjoy drinking bone broth, you can use it as the base for soups, stews, sauces, and gravies.

Here’s a simple tomato sauce recipe using bone broth.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups (473 mL) bone broth
  • 2 cans organic tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) oregano, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 mL) basil, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan.
  2. Heat over medium-high heat for 4–6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Reduce to low heat and cover, allowing the sauce to simmer for 5 more minutes.
  4. Serve over pasta or meatloaf, or include it in a variety of recipes.

Where to buy it

If you don’t have time to make bone broth, you can get organic and other types from health food stores, supermarkets, and online.

Summary

Get bones from your local butcher or farmers market to make your broth. Just 1 cup a day provides good health benefits.

What are the benefits of bone broth?

Bone broth is high in protein and other nutrients. It may benefit digestive health, help build muscle and bones, and play a role in weight management.

Are there any downsides or side effects?

If the bones of an animal are not healthy, it could affect the quality of bone broth.

In 2017, some scientists looked into whether animal bones used in broth contain harmful levels of toxic metals, such as lead. They concluded that the levels are too low to cause health problems.

It is also essential to follow the same guidelines as for meat when buying, storing, preparing, and using bones and bone broth, to reduce the risk of bacterial or other infections.

Get some tips here on meat safety.

How often should you drink bone broth?

It depends on how you prefer to use it. Some people drink 1 cup (237 ml) of bone broth daily, or you might like to use it in a weekly soups or stew, for example.

Can bone broth help you lose weight?

Bone broth is high in protein and it can also form the base of a soup. Both of these factors may make it suitable as part of a weight management plan.

Bone broth contains many important nutrients that may have health benefits, such as boosting bone health, protecting the gut, and managing weight. However, research is still ongoing.

You can drink it for a health boost or use it to add flavor and nutrition to soups, stews, and other savory dishes.

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