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Bone Broth and Its Benefits - A Dieticians Perspective

 Bone Broth and Its Benefits

Sofia Norton
Dietician Expert, Kiss My Keto

 

If you visit health and wellness spaces, you’ll notice that bone broth is having a moment, especially in the Paleo and keto communities. It’s even being offered at restaurants and sold as an on-the-go drink. 


However, bone broth is nothing new.


Broths from bones have existed since prehistoric times, and people have known about their many benefits since the dawn of civilization. Today, they’re mainly used as a staple cooking ingredient in many households but also as a health-supporting superfood. 


Below, we talk more about bone broth, including what it is, how it’s made, and what benefits it has to offer.

What Exactly Is Bone Broth?


Bone broth is a savory liquid made of water, bones, cartilage, and, sometimes, meat, vegetables, vinegar, and herbs. Any type of bone can be used in making bone broth; however, beef, pork, chicken, and fish bones are most commonly used. 


Bone broth takes 8-48 hours to fully cook. The long cooking time helps extract the collagen and minerals from the bones and into the water. The resulting liquid is opaque and tends to form a jelly consistency when cooled. You will also notice a layer of fat on top of bone broth. 


Most people use bone broth as a base ingredient for soups, stews, sauces, and stir-fries. However, some drink it as is in place of coffee or tea. It’s a highly popular ingredient in Paleo and keto diets


Besides homemade bone broth, you will also find it being sold in cans, cartons, as frozen food, and even in powder form. 


How is Bone Broth Made?

Making bone broth is fairly simple, and there are countless recipes to choose from. However, most broths are made by first browning the bones (with or without the flesh and skin) and vegetables and then simmering them. This can also be done in a slow cooker. 


Here is an example recipe of a simple beef broth to give you an idea how bone broth is usually made:


Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds beef bones 
  • 3 carrots
  • 3 celery ribs
  • 2 medium onions, halved
  • 1/2 cup warm water 
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp whole peppercorns
  • Herbs and spices of your choice
  • Cold water

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 450°. 
  2. In a large pan, bake bones for 30 minutes. Add carrots, celery, and onions and bake for another 30 minutes.
  3. Once browned, transfer ingredients to a large pot and drain excess fat.
  4. Add warm water to the pan and stir to loosen any brown bits. Transfer pan juices to pot.  
  5. Add seasonings and enough cold water to cover.
  6. Slowly bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 4-5 hours, skimming foam. 
  7. Remove beef bones and vegetables and strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve. 
  8. Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 4 months. 

The resulting liquid will have the collagen, minerals, and vitamins extracted from the bones and other ingredients. Most health benefits of bone broth come from these compounds. 

The Benefits of Bone Broth

The main reason bone broth has been trending the last couple of years is the health benefits it provides. Some of these health benefits are explained below.

1. Bone broth is nutritious


The nutritional content of bone broth depends on the ingredients used. However, most broths will be a good source of protein, fat, minerals, and even vitamins. A cup of homemade chicken or beef stock, for example, has 31 to 86 calories, 0.2 to 2.9g fat, 4.7 to 6g protein, and varying levels of calcium, iron, and potassium.

2. It can help you rehydrate

Like most liquid foods, bone broth is hydrating. It contains electrolytes, most notably sodium, which helps your body hold on to water. We tend to lose a lot of electrolytes after vigorous workouts, higher urine output, and stomach upset. Studies show that a drink that contains sodium and other electrolytes is better for rehydration than water alone. 

3. It’s a natural cold remedy

You probably used chicken soup at some point in your life to relieve a cold or flu. Well, turns out that there’s some scientific evidence to this traditional cold remedy. A study published in the journal Chest found that homemade chicken soup affected the movement of white blood cells, which cause inflammation behind most cold and flu symptoms. 

4. Bone broth heals the gut

Bone broth is a great source of gelatin and collagen that come from cooked cartilage. Both contain the gut-benefiting amino acids, namely glycine and hydroxyproline. Research in mice found that collagen has anti-inflammatory properties and that it can help with inflammatory diseases of the gut. These properties are again mostly attributed to glycine.

5. It strengthens the joints

Bone broth contains chondroitin and glucosamine, both compounds added to supplements for joint health support. Besides that, gelatin alone can help with joint healing according to a study by the UC Davis College of Biological Sciences and the Australian Institute of Sports. The study found that taking a gelatin supplement with vitamin C strengthens joints when taken around workouts. 

6. You can use it for weight loss

Another great feature of bone broth is that it’s low in calories — fewer than 100 in a cup. But there’s another reason it is great for weight loss — it contains glutamine. Glutamine is an amino acid that improves insulin sensitivity, enhances glucose metabolism, and leads to weight loss according to current research

7. It’s a great post-workout meal

Bone broth contains electrolytes and protein, both nutrients important for post-workout recovery. Exercising tends to deplete electrolytes and protein is needed to support muscle growth and repair following a bout of workout. For best results, it’s a good idea to use a bone broth prepared with vegetables for a varied electrolyte content since bones contain only calcium and magnesium. Adding neutral-tasting protein powder to your broth also helps.