Bone Broth Is Rich in Nutrients and History
Made by slowly simmering animal bones and connective tissue for 24-36 hours, bone broth has a place of honor in most culinary traditions. From Thai coconut chicken soup to Turkish lamb stew to classic American chicken noodle soup, people around the world have been simmering animal bones into savory goodness for thousands of years.
The bone broth tradition was almost lost in the 20th century, with the introduction of MSG-based bouillon cubes, making that savory flavoring easier to achieve. However, we’ve since learned that MSG can contribute to hypertension, obesity, gastrointestinal tract troubles, and impaired function of the brain, nervous system, reproductive, and endocrine system .
Thankfully, Americans are finding their way back to healthy, whole foods again. Drinking bone broth is a tradition that is enjoying an immense resurgence in popularity. Chicken and beef bone broth are staple foods in paleo and keto diets and are full of nutrients, healthy fats, and amino acids.
How To Drink Bone Broth
The most basic way to enjoy bone broth is to drink it straight up. Simply heat a mug of beef or chicken bone broth in the microwave and enjoy. For some, the salty, umami flavor of bone broth is an acquired taste. For others, it’s love at first sip.
Bone broth is a perfect mid-afternoon pick-me-up, that won’t send your blood sugar on a roller coaster ride. Pack a thermos full of broth and take it to work or on your next road trip.
A warm mug of bone broth is also perfect to drink 15-30 minutes before a meal and can help to curb food cravings and may assist with weight loss. Researchers found that women who drank a savory chicken broth before eating made better food choices at a buffet meal .
Some enjoy their bone broth in the morning in place of coffee or even breakfast.
Other Ways To Include Bone Broth in Your Diet
Drinking bone broth straight up isn’t for everyone. Luckily there are lots of other ways to include bone broth in your diet.
- Make soup. This is the classic way to make bone broth part of your diet. Use it in any soup recipe that calls for stock or broth. Try a classic like chicken noodle or French onion soup, or go for something spicier like Mexican pozole or Chinese hot and sour soup. Most soup recipes can be made in big batches and frozen ahead for quick week-day meals.
- Make rice, grains or pasta: Use bone broth instead of water when cooking rice, grains, or pasta. Bone broth adds flavor and health benefits to these simple dishes.
- Saute with vegetables: Use a bit of bone broth to saute or stir fry vegetables.
- Add to mashed potatoes, parsnips, and cauliflower: Use bone broth instead of water or milk when making any mashed vegetable dish.
- Freeze in ice cube trays: Keep some bone broth ice cubes handy in the freezer. You can pop a couple of cubes into stews, casseroles, stir fries, or any other savory recipe.
Check your favorite cookbook and recipes. Any recipe that calls for stock or broth can be replaced with bone broth.
How Often Should I Drink Bone Broth?
There’s not much scientific research into bone broth as a dietary supplement. Generally, one cup of bone broth a day is recommended as a part of a nutrient-dense, whole foods diet. Pick a time of day to enjoy your bone broth and make it a daily habit.
If you make bone broth, you can safely keep it in the fridge for 3-4 days. If you cook a big batch of bone broth, freeze it in 3-4 cup portions to maintain an easily accessible supply.
What Is a Bone Broth Fast?
A bone broth fast is a great way to achieve a quick and easy gut reset. Drink bone broth exclusively for three days to give your digestive system time to rest and repair.
A three-day bone broth diet is a great way to recover from an inflammatory flare or a week of poor food choices. Drinking bone broth every day is also a great way to kick-start a healthy, gut-healing diet plan like the Paleo diet or low FODMAP diet.
Another approach to incorporating bone broth fasting is the 21-day bone broth diet, a modified intermittent fasting routine, with five days on a whole-foods, anti-inflammatory diet, followed by two days of bone broth fasting.
Health Benefits of Bone Broth
Is bone broth really a superfood as many claim?
There’s been little direct research into the health benefits of drinking bone broth. Were our ancestors correct about the healing properties of a bowl of chicken soup? Unfortunately, there’s not enough evidence to draw any definitive, research-backed conclusions.
We do know that bone broth is high in collagen, gelatin, and amino acids like glycine and proline. It also contains minerals, including calcium, magnesium, iron, and zinc . If we look at the research into some of these compounds, we do find intriguing evidence, however much of it is preliminary.
Collagen is one of the main building blocks of the human body and is found in skin, hair, ligaments, bones, and other body tissues. Research into collagen supplements shows benefits for skin, joint health, bone density, and possibly gut health.
- High-quality human trials show that collagen supplements improve skin elasticity and moisture [4, 5, 6].
- Collagen supplements have also been shown to improve symptoms of osteoarthritis and reduce joint pain [7, 8].
- One study showed a 7% increase in bone mineral density for post-menopausal women who took the collagen supplements for 12 months .
- Collagen may provide gut-healing benefits, but the research is preliminary. A study of human cells showed that collagen peptides significantly decreased the mechanisms associated with leaky gut .
Bone broth does not contain as much collagen as dietary supplements used in most research studies . If you are looking for a therapeutic dose, collagen supplements may be a better choice.
Gelatin is the jelly-like substance that results from cooking collagen. Gelatin absorbs water and may protect the mucous layer of the digestive tract and help repair leaky gut. Gelatin tannate, a combination of tannic acid and gelatin, has been shown to enhance the mucus barrier of the gut and restore the gut lining . Gelatin tannate has also been shown to be effective for treating chronic diarrhea .
Glycine is one of the amino acids found in bone broth protein. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein.
Glycine has anti-inflammatory properties, enhances the immune system, and protects body tissues from injury . As a nutrient, glycine has been used to prevent tissue injury, promote wound healing, improve immunity, and treat metabolic disorders and inflammatory diseases . Glycine has also been shown to improve sleep quality .
How To Make Bone Broth
Making homemade bone broth is easy, but it can be time-consuming. The stovetop or slow-cooker method requires at least 24-36 hours of simmering to extract all the nutrients. However, cooking time can be reduced to a couple of hours if you use a pressure cooker like the Instant Pot.
If you want to make your own bone broth, you need to find a good source of bones. A simple option is to use what’s already available in your kitchen — for example, the carcass of a rotisserie chicken you bought at the supermarket. For the best quality organic bones, look for sources of free-range, organic poultry and grass-fed beef, most often available at specialty grocery stores, butcher shops, and farmers’ markets.
You can increase the collagen content in your bone broth by choosing cuts with lots of cartilage and connective tissue, including whole chicken carcasses and beef knucklebones. This will give your bone broth a thick, gelatinous appearance when it cools. Apple cider vinegar helps to extract more minerals from the bone.
Bone Broth Recipe
This recipe is for chicken or beef bone broth. However, you can substitute any type of bone, including fish bones.
- 1 whole chicken carcass or 3-4 lbs of beef bones
- A generous pinch of sea salt
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tsp sea salt
- Optional: aromatic vegetables and herbs, such as carrots, celery, kale, parsley, and/or cilantro
- Optional: additional seasonings, such as turmeric or chili flakes
Stove Top or Slow Cooker Method
- Place bones in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add water until bones are completely covered.
- Add apple cider vinegar (to help leach minerals from the bones) and salt.
- Bring to a boil and turn down the heat to simmer slowly for 24-36 hours.
- Add aromatic vegetables, herbs, and seasonings for the last 6-8 hours of cooking time.
- Turn off heat, allow the broth to cool slightly, and strain out bones and other ingredients.
Pressure Cooker Method
- Place bones in a pressure cooker. Add water until bones are completely covered. Do not exceed the maximum fill line.
- Add apple cider vinegar (to help leach minerals from the bones) and salt.
- Add aromatic vegetables, herbs, and seasonings.
- Set the pressure cooker to 120 minutes. Allow a natural release.
- Allow broth to cool slightly, then strain out bones and other ingredients.
Where To Buy Bone Broth
If you don’t want the fuss of making your own bone broth, you can find many bone broth products on Amazon or in your local grocery store.
Kettle & Fire was one of the first brands into the bone broth market and their products are all sourced from organic, pasture-raised animals.
You can also buy powderedbone broth, which may be a great option for travel. Simply mix the powder with boiling water for a quick and convenient cup of bone broth. When buying powdered bone broth, check the label to make sure you are getting all-natural ingredients and avoiding additives like MSG.
Grandma May Know Best
Grandmothers around the world have been serving up bowls of warm bone broth and broth-based soups to nourish sick family members for centuries. And while research hasn’t yet caught up with grandma’s traditional knowledge about the health benefits of bone broth, there are plenty of good reasons to add bone broth to your diet now.
Bone broth on its own is delicious, filling, easy to digest and a much healthier beverage choice than any sweet drink. In the kitchen, bone broth is a versatile ingredient that adds flavor to many recipes. It’s easy to prepare and even easier to buy. And while we don’t yet have definitive proof, it may also be good for your gut, your skin, your joints, and your sleep.
- Chakraborty SP. Patho-physiological and toxicological aspects of monosodium glutamate. Toxicol Mech Methods. 2019 Jul;29(6):389-396. doi: 10.1080/15376516.2018.1528649. Epub 2019 May 6. PMID: 30273089.
- Magerowski, G., Giacona, G., Patriarca, L. et al. Neurocognitive effects of umami: association with eating behavior and food choice. Neuropsychopharmacol 43, 2009–2016 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41386-018-0044-6
- (2017) Essential and toxic metals in animal bone broths, Food & Nutrition Research, 61:1, DOI: 10.1080/16546628.2017.1347478
- De Luca C, Mikhal’chik EV, Suprun MV, Papacharalambous M, Truhanov AI, Korkina LG. Skin Antiageing and Systemic Redox Effects of Supplementation with Marine Collagen Peptides and Plant-Derived Antioxidants: A Single-Blind Case-Control Clinical Study. Oxid Med Cell Longev. 2016;2016:4389410. doi: 10.1155/2016/4389410. Epub 2016 Jan 19. PMID: 26904164; PMCID: PMC4745978.
- Kim DU, Chung HC, Choi J, Sakai Y, Lee BY. Oral Intake of Low-Molecular-Weight Collagen Peptide Improves Hydration, Elasticity, and Wrinkling in Human Skin: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study. Nutrients. 2018 Jun 26;10(7):826. doi: 10.3390/nu10070826. PMID: 29949889; PMCID: PMC6073484.
- Asserin, J., Lati, E., Shioya, T. and Prawitt, J. (2015), The effect of oral collagen peptide supplementation on skin moisture and the dermal collagen network: evidence from an ex vivo model and randomized, placebo‐controlled clinical trials. J Cosmet Dermatol, 14: 291-301. https://doi.org/10.1111/jocd.12174
- Bello AE, Oesser S. Collagen hydrolysate for the treatment of osteoarthritis and other joint disorders: a review of the literature. Curr Med Res Opin. 2006 Nov;22(11):2221-32. doi: 10.1185/030079906X148373. PMID: 17076983.
- König D, Oesser S, Scharla S, Zdzieblik D, Gollhofer A. Specific Collagen Peptides Improve Bone Mineral Density and Bone Markers in Postmenopausal Women-A Randomized Controlled Study. Nutrients. 2018 Jan 16;10(1):97. doi: 10.3390/nu10010097. PMID: 29337906; PMCID: PMC5793325.
- Chen Q, Chen O, Martins IM, Hou H, Zhao X, Blumberg JB, Li B. Collagen peptides ameliorate intestinal epithelial barrier dysfunction in immunostimulatory Caco-2 cell monolayers via enhancing tight junctions. Food Funct. 2017 Mar 22;8(3):1144-1151. doi: 10.1039/c6fo01347c. PMID: 28174772.
- Alcock RD, Shaw GC, Burke LM. Bone Broth Unlikely to Provide Reliable Concentrations of Collagen Precursors Compared With Supplemental Sources of Collagen Used in Collagen Research. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2019 May 1;29(3):265-272. doi: 10.1123/ijsnem.2018-0139. Epub 2018 Sep 26. PMID: 29893587.
- Lopetuso LR, Scaldaferri F, Bruno G, Petito V, Franceschi F, Gasbarrini A. The therapeutic management of gut barrier leaking: the emerging role for mucosal barrier protectors. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2015;19(6):1068-76. PMID: 25855934.
- Lopetuso L, Graziani C, Guarino A, Lamborghini A, Masi S, Stanghellini V. Gelatin tannate and tyndallized probiotics: a novel approach for treatment of diarrhea. Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci. 2017 Feb;21(4):873-883. PMID: 28272692.
- Zhong Z, Wheeler MD, Li X, Froh M, Schemmer P, Yin M, Bunzendaul H, Bradford B, Lemasters JJ. L-Glycine: a novel antiinflammatory, immunomodulatory, and cytoprotective agent. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2003 Mar;6(2):229-40. doi: 10.1097/00075197-200303000-00013. PMID: 12589194.
- Wang W, Wu Z, Dai Z, Yang Y, Wang J, Wu G. Glycine metabolism in animals and humans: implications for nutrition and health. Amino Acids. 2013 Sep;45(3):463-77. doi: 10.1007/s00726-013-1493-1. Epub 2013 Apr 25. PMID: 23615880.
- Bannai M, Kawai N. New therapeutic strategy for amino acid medicine: glycine improves the quality of sleep. J Pharmacol Sci. 2012;118(2):145-8. doi: 10.1254/jphs.11r04fm. Epub 2012 Jan 27. PMID: 22293292.