Bone broth, traditionally derived from beef or chicken bones, is frequently recommended by nutritionists and some medical professionals due to its proposed benefits for gut health. However, solid scientific evidence to support this claim is currently sparse. Nevertheless, the time-honored drink might have various health advantages.
Per the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), certain versions of bone broth boast more than 9 grams of protein for every 8-ounce portion, along with a rich assortment of electrolytes, essential vitamins, and minerals. Whether it’s potentially reducing inflammation or boosting protein consumption, bone broth offers components that could be beneficial in multiple health aspects.
Continue reading to delve deeper into insights from nutrition specialists and prevailing studies on this traditional concoction, and discover how to craft a basic bone broth in your kitchen.
What Is Bone Broth?
“Derived from the slow and meticulous process of boiling animal bones, bone broth emerges as a savory stock brimming with proteins and minerals,” shares Kim Kulp, a distinguished dietitian with a focus on gut health from the San Francisco Bay Area.
The magic happens when animal bones simmer for extended periods, often surpassing 12 hours. This prolonged heat exposure draws out collagen—the protein famed for housing amino acids like arginine, glutamate, and proline, to name a few. Once transformed, this collagen infuses the broth, making it a drinkable reservoir of nutrients, notes Lara Clevenger, a respected dietitian hailing from Edgewater, Florida. The beauty of bone broth lies in its versatility. From chicken to fish bones, there’s a myriad to explore. Though plant-based alternatives exist, featuring ingredients like mushrooms and seaweed, their nutritional profiles differ from traditional animal-based broths. It’s wise to review product specifics for clarity.
Tracing its roots, this rejuvenating potion isn’t new to human history. Some scholars suggest its origins might intertwine with ancient culinary traditions.
Health Benefits of Bone Broth
Bone broth offers potential health benefits, such as enhancing one’s protein intake and promoting better hydration.
However, while many health professionals tout the advantages of bone broth for gut health, comprehensive human studies haven’t fully validated these beliefs, notes Kulp. She mentions, “Bone broth is often heralded for its potential role in addressing leaky gut issues. However, much of the current research is centered on animal models, particularly rodents.” For a definitive link between bone broth, anti-inflammatory effects, and gut wellness, more in-depth human studies are crucial.
In the realm of broths, bone broth stands out due to its impressive protein content. Notably, several commercial variants boast more than 10 grams of protein per serving. However, protein concentrations can differ based on brand specifics, as highlighted in a 2018 research from the International Journal of Sports Medicine and Exercise Metabolism. Collagen, a form of protein integral for creating body’s connective tissues, is the dominant nutrient in bone broth.
Emphasizing protein’s importance, Maya Oueichek, a Chicago-based nutrition expert, comments, “A notable attribute of bone broth is its role in muscle recuperation and development. Laden with amino acids such as glycine and proline, it’s instrumental for muscle rejuvenation.” She further suggests that sportspersons and fitness buffs could immensely profit from adding bone broth to their recovery regimens.
Owing to its liquid consistency and mineral content, bone broth serves as an exceptional hydrating agent. “The inclusion of salt in its preparation makes bone broth an excellent reservoir of hydration and vital minerals,” remarks McKenzie Caldwell, a dietitian from Charlotte, North Carolina with a focus on fertility nutrition. She adds, “Given its hydration attributes and collagen concentration, it’s invaluable during pregnancy and the initial postnatal phase. The broth assists fetal skeletal and joint development.”
Furthermore, not just new mothers, but also those leading an active lifestyle can leverage the hydration perks offered by bone broth.
Potential in Skin and Wound Care
Collagen’s reputation as a skin vitality booster is well-earned, primarily for its purported skin elasticity properties. Bone broth, being a collagen source, is believed to facilitate wound recovery. “The protein-rich collagen in bone broth plays a multifaceted role, notably in wound recuperation and ensuring joint robustness,” conveys Dr. Casey Kelley, a functional medicine specialist from Chicago.
Bolstering Bone Integrity
Bone broth, with its treasure trove of nutrients, can be a pillar for skeletal and joint wellness. “This broth is a mineral goldmine, featuring calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, all pivotal for bone rigidity,” states Wan Na Chun, a nutritionist and fitness coach from Indianapolis, IN. “The prolonged simmering possibly liberates additional nutrients like glucosamine and chondroitin, renowned for their joint support properties.”
Is Bone Broth Safe?
Most experts, including Kulps, regard bone broth as safe for the majority of people. Yet, when considering incorporating bone broth into a diet, there are some health factors to be aware of.
Issues with heavy metals. Kulp notes, “Bones can sometimes contain minerals in amounts that aren’t ideal for regular consumption. This makes bone broth a potential source of heavy metals like lead and cadmium.” Overindulgence in these metals can lead to toxicity. “Although the concentrations are typically low in bone broth, consistently consuming large quantities could heighten the risk of ingesting these metals,” she points out. It’s worth noting that most homemade versions of bone broth contain less than 5% of the recommended daily limits for these metals.
Reactions due to histamine. People with histamine intolerance, a condition where the body struggles to break down histamine in food, may experience symptoms like congestion or itchiness. Dr. Kelley warns, “Given its collagen content, bone broth can be particularly high in histamine. Therefore, those on a low-histamine diet should approach with caution, as symptoms could be aggravated.”
Concerns over sodium levels. Oueichek suggests, “Commercially available bone broths often come with a significant amount of sodium. For those adhering to a sodium-restricted diet, it’s crucial to monitor consumption. Opting for versions with reduced sodium or making it at home allows for better regulation of salt content.”
Anyone pondering the inclusion of bone broth in their dietary routine is advised to seek guidance from a medical professional or a registered dietitian to determine if it aligns with their specific health requirements.