Bone broth is a nutrient-rich liquid made by boiling animal bones and connective tissue. Typically made from chicken, beef or fish, it can be consumed as a drink as well as used in gravies or sauces. Some people even blend it into smoothies.
Bone broth was first made by hunter-gatherers looking to get every last bit of nutrition out of food resources. Today, it is a staple in the diets of many cultures. While no research has been published on how consuming bone broth affects health, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests it can provide many benefits.
What is Bone Broth and Why Is It Good For You?
The list of health benefits from consuming bone broth is long, but some of the most important advantages that it is believed to provide include the following:
- It is rich in vitamins and minerals. Animal bones, marrow, and connective tissue contain a wide range of healthy components. These include vitamin A, vitamin K2, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, boron, manganese, selenium, iodine, glucosamine, chondroitin, amino acids, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. As the bones simmer, they release these nutrients into the broth.
- It may help fight inflammation. Chronic inflammation can contribute to a number of health issues including heart disease, certain types of cancer, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity and many more. Glycine and arginine, two amino acids found in bone broth, have strong anti-inflammatory properties. The glucosamine and chondroitin in bone broth may also play a role in improving joint health.
- It may improve digestive health. Bone broth contains gelatin, which binds with water in the gut to help move food through the digestive tract. It may also repair and protect the lining of the intestines. Glutamine, an amino acid in bone broth, is also believed to support proper functioning of the intestinal wall and may help prevent what is called “leaky gut,” in which the barrier between the intestines and the bloodstream does not work properly and allows the wrong substances to cross. These properties of bone broth may have a positive impact on chronic conditions like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- It has collagen for maintaining healthy skin. Collagen is one of the components of elastin, an important compound that gives skin its healthy look and feel. Bone broth is an excellent source of collagen.
- It may support weight management. Bone broth is low in calories but contains gelatin, which is effective in producing the feeling of satiation and fullness. The collagen in bone broth may also aid in the development of muscle mass and reduction of fat.
- It may improve brain function and sleep. Glycine is an amino acid that can help improve memory and overall brain function. When consumed at night, it may also promote relaxation and deeper, more restful sleep.
How to Prepare, Use and Store Bone Broth
Bone broth is easy to make and can be stored for future use. To prepare a batch, do the following:
- Place 2-4 pounds of chicken, beef, fish or other bones in a large pot. Note: If you don’t often cook food that has bones, your local butcher may be willing to give some to you or sell them at a nominal cost.
- Cover the bones with water.
- Add two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. This helps pull the nutrients out of the bones.
- Add spices and vegetables such as onions, garlic, carrots and celery to taste.
- Bring to a boil and then allow to simmer on low heat for 12-24 hours. The longer it cooks, the more nutritious and flavorful the bone broth will be.
- When cooking is complete, allow the bone broth to cool and strain out the solids.
Bone broth can be stored safely in the refrigerator for up to five days. It can also be frozen for later use. The liquid can be consumed on its own or used as the base for gravy or sauce. And whether you choose to have a serving once or twice daily, or only on occasion, your body will benefit from its many nutrients.