Bone broth is a hot trend at the moment, and if you visit a lot of cities, you’ll find this superfood sold anywhere from food carts to broth bars. However, there is nothing new about bone broth; it has been used for centuries, long before it became the trend we see popping up today, as a nutritional remedy due to its long list of medicinal properties.
Bone broth is quite simple, really, and is just what it sounds: broth made from the bones and connective tissues of various animals (typically beef or chicken). Often it also includes vegetables, similar to a mineral broth. Adding an acid ingredient, such as vinegar or lemon juice, is key as this aids in the breakdown of collagen.
While being skeptical of health trends is always a good idea (not to mention doing your own research), bone broth is hands down a keeper, as it truly is one of the most nutritious and healing foods in existence.
NUTRIENTS IN BONE BROTH
First and foremost, keep in mind that the nutrient benefits of bone broth depend completely on the quality of your ingredients. Bones from grass-fed and/or organic meats are optimal, as they offer much higher nutrient value than those from conventionally raised animals. With that said, if you don’t have access to these types of bones, you’ll still reap many of bone broth’s benefits.
As the principal ingredient, bones contain an impressive array of minerals such as calcium, potassium, sodium, phosphorus, magnesium, sulfur and iron.
Essential in supporting bone and joint health, connective tissue in broth offers compounds proven to support and alleviate pain from arthritis, particularly glucosamine and chondroitin (which, interestingly, consumers spend a lot of money on in supplement form).
Both marrow and bones are rich in joint-healing collagen, which is the substance that forms gelatin upon cooking broth. Bone marrow is packed full of essential nutrients such as vitamins A and K2, anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids, and immune supportive minerals such as zinc, boron, manganese and iron.
Certain vegetables can give your bone broth an extra nutritional kick, not to mention make it extra tasty. Excellent options include onion, garlic, celery, or leafy greens such as kale, chard or collard greens.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF BONE BROTH
Thanks primarily to the nutrients found in the cartilage, bone broth is one of the top foods for reducing systemic (internal) inflammation. Studies have shown that chronic inflammation is linked to such ailments as diabetes, fatty liver disease and heart disease.
Gelatin is the primary driver of this key health benefit, and is important both for those with impaired digestion, as well as for general digestive health maintenance and prevention. This soothing and easy to digest food helps to heal the gut, and allows for optimal nutrient absorption. Particularly for those with digestive conditions such as IBS, IBD, or food allergies/sensitivities, bone broth offers the digestive tract a much needed rest.
Fights colds and infections
Your mothers were right about chicken soup curing a cold (although not about orange juice, which actually just blasts the body with sugar). One study proves chicken broth’s effectiveness in fighting common infections, but remember that the store-bought version does not offer the same medicinal properties.
Promotes healthy hair and nails
Also thanks to broth’s gelatin component, regularly sipping bone broth can work wonders in supporting the healthy growth of hair and nails.
Improves bone density
Bone broth is very high in calcium, which is essential for building and maintaining strong and healthy bones. Along with bone health, calcium also supports proper function of nerves and muscles.
MAKE IT YOURSELF
As with most soups, it’s hard to go wrong and you can feel free to improvise. Using bones from just about any animal works well, but opt for bones from organic, grass-fed or pasture-raised animals whenever possible. These can be purchased at your local butcher shop, farmers market or health food store that sells meat. Don’t forget to include an acidic ingredient such as lemon juice or apple cider vinegar (vinegar is preferable, use lemon in a pinch), as this allows for optimal breakdown of connective tissue, providing a more nutrient-rich broth.
Basic Bone broth
1 gallon of water (or more if needed)
3 pounds of bones and connective tissue: Chicken bones (include feet, neck, etc), beef marrow and/or knuckle bones, beef or calf foot (chopped into pieces), meaty beef bones, turkey, lamb, pork and/or fish bones
3 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar (or lemon juice)
1 onion, chopped
3-5 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
5 stalks celery, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1. Add water, bones, vegetables and vinegar to a large soup pot, bringing everything to a boil. Add more water if needed so that all ingredients are covered.
2. Next, cover and lower to a simmer, allowing to cook for 12-24 hours (the longer the better)
3. Strain and enjoy! Use immediately or freeze (making a large batch is a great idea, as broth freezes well)
Bone broth is quite versatile, and can be used as a base for soups, sauces, or can simply be sipped throughout the day (especially if you feel a cold coming on or are already sick). If you suffer from digestive problems, including one cup of bone broth daily can help to heal the gut.
Whether you opt for pre-prepared broth from a broth-bar or you prefer to make your own at home, know you are doing your body some serious favors. Keep in mind that you will likely pay upwards of $8-9 for 16 ounces of broth at an outside venue, versus paying the same amount to make over a gallon in your own kitchen. But, if time is of the essence, there certainly is a lot to be said for convenience, and bone broth is well worth it.