Health Benefits of Bone Broth

Bone broth, sometimes called stock, is liquid made from boiling animal bones and connective tissue. Chefs use stock as a base for soups, sauces, and gravies. Some people drink it on its own.

People have been making bone broth since the beginning of humankind. Anthropologists think people drank liquid infused with bones and other animal parts as early as prehistoric times. 

People all over the planet make bone broth from the animals that live nearby. The popular Japanese ramen dish tonkatsu — “pork bone broth” in English — is one example. 

Health Benefits

Most bone broth has at least trace amounts of several nutrients. Adding vegetables to bone broth can also significantly enhance its nutritional benefits. 

Health benefits of bone broth include:

Weight Management

Broth and broth-based soups can help you feel full despite their low-calorie content, making it an excellent choice for people following a weight loss diet plan.

Better Hydration

The high water content in bone broth helps you stay hydrated. Water makes up 70 percent of the body and impacts virtually every bodily function .

Improved Sleep

Bone broth contains small amounts of the amino acid glycine, which may promote relaxation and deeper, more restorative sleep.

Nutrition

Bone broth is easy to make and a flavorful part of many complex, delicious recipes. It’s also a great way to use otherwise inedible animal bones and tissues.

Nutrients per Serving

Every batch of bone broth is unique, so it’s impossible to calculate the exact nutrient content. However, since beef stock is among the more common broths around the word, it’s a decent reference point. One cup of beef bone broth contains:

The protein content in bone broth may support your body as it builds bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. Bone broth also contains small amounts of:

Things to Watch Out For

As broth ingredients simmer over long periods, small amounts of nutrients from the bones or tissue release into the cooking liquid (usually water). Because they appear in such small amounts, it is unclear if the nutrients in bone broth are beneficial to the body.  

Several popular claims about the benefits of bone broth may be overstated. So far, we don’t have scientific evidence that bone broth can relieve joint pain, make skin firmer, improve digestion, or strengthen bone.

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How to Prepare Bone Broth

Preparing bone broth is very simple:

1.Fill a large pot with 1 gallon of water.

2.Add two to four pounds of animal bones and optionally, connective tissue.

3.Add salt and pepper to taste.

4.Bring to a boil.

5.Reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 12 to 24 hours. 

The longer you simmer broth, the more flavor it will take on from the bones and tissue. 

Add flavor to your bone broth with ingredients like onion, celery, carrot, parsley, thyme, and garlic. Add these before you boil the broth. 

You can also prepare bone broth in a pressure cooker or slow cooker. 

Beef, chicken, and pork bone broths are the most common types. However, you can create bone broth from virtually any animal’s bones and connective tissue. Some examples include turkey, veal, lamb, bison, buffalo, deer, and fish. You can also use a mix of bones from different animals.

Use your bone broth as a base for soup, sauces, and gravy, or drink it on its own. 

Here are a few other ways to use bone broth:

  • Add flavor to pasta by boiling it in bone broth instead of water.
  • Add to casseroles for more flavor and moistness.
  • Use as a flavorful base for nutritious vegetable soup.
  • Sip hot bone broth to soothe a sore throat. 
  • Drink bone broth between meals as a low-calorie snack.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 11, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon.

Harvard Women’s Health Watch: “What’s the scoop on bone broth?”

Iowa State University: “Late prehistoric (Oneota) exploitation of bison, elk, and deer at the Howard Goodhue site, central Iowa.”

Neuropsychopharmacology: “The Sleep-Promoting and Hypothermic Effects of Glycine are Mediated by NMDA Receptors in the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus.”

Penn State University: “Bone Broth: Are there Benefits?”

Physiology & Behavior: “Soup and satiety.”

Stony Brook Medicine: “Drink Up During the Summer: The Importance of Hydration.”

UC San Diego Health: “Taking Stock: the Hype and Health of Bone Broth.”

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