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What is the Big Deal with Bone Broth?

Updated: Sep 29, 2021

Searching for answers about bone broth? A nutrition expert tells you everything you need to know here.

Disclaimer: This post includes affiliate links, which may provide me a small commission for each sale. This allows me to keep providing helpful resources (such as this post). All opinions expressed are my own.


Bone broth has been all the rage lately. Numerous are the celebrity accounts that claim it is the key to their quick weight loss transformation. Is bone broth really good for you, and does bone broth have health benefits?


As part of a well-balanced diet, bone broth can certainly add significant vitamins and minerals. However, it isn't the only source of collagen, nutrients, and other compounds it is commonly praised for. Learn here how to incorporate bone broth into a healthy diet.


Read on for bone broth recipes, recommendations, and more. It's all been hand-picked by a nutrition expert.





What is Bone Broth?


Bone broth has been in the headlines recently, and you might be wondering whether or not it is healthy for you. Should you be drinking bone broth?


Simply put, bone broth is the resulting stock of slowly simmering the bones and connective tissue of animals. It’s an ancient recipe -- one thought to have been used all the way back in prehistoric times as a way to make use of the inedible parts of an animal so nothing was wasted.


Where Does Bone Broth Come From?

While beef and chicken are the popular picks for bone broth, broth can come from many other animals. These include:

  • Pork

  • Beef

  • Veal

  • Turkey

  • Lamb

  • Bison

  • Buffalo

  • Venison

  • Chicken

  • Fish


What Parts of the Animal are Used to Make Bone Broth?

The three main components used to make bone broth include:

  1. Bones

  2. Marrow

  3. Connective tissues.

For example, stock could be simmered from the following parts:

  • Bones

  • Hooves

  • Knuckles

  • Beaks

  • Gizzards

  • Fins

While it sounds like it is not very appetizing, the end result is actually a fairly common staple ingredient in dishes like soups, stews, and simmering sauces.


What is Bone Broth Used In?


Bone broth is used in a variety of recipes, especially warming soups and hearty winter stews. It is also added to many sauces, gravies, and warm salads to add some flavor.


Are broth and stock the same thing?

Essentially -- yes. Sticklers will point out a subtle difference. Broth usually refers to the liquid and meat mixture that has seasonings and herbs added to it and is cooked for up to two hours.


Stock technically refers to the result of simmering the bones with mirepoix (onion, carrot, and celery), plus water.


The main difference is that stock is generally not seasoned and can be cooked from two to six hours. Bone broth is a medium between the two -- usually made from roasted bones, sometimes containing the meat, and most certainly flavorful with added vegetables.



Breaking Down Bone Broth

You're probably still wondering, "is bone broth healthy or not?" Well, let's take a closer look at each ingredient to decide.


How to Make Bone Broth

Making bone broth requires at least 4 simple components:

  1. Water

  2. Vinegar: Often considered the most important part -- it helps to pull the nutrients from the bones into the water.

  3. Animal Bones

  4. Added Ingredients: Vegetables and seasonings, herbs, and spices such as -

  • Garlic

  • Onion

  • Celery

  • Carrot

  • Parsley

  • Thyme

  • Salt + pepper as desired


The Best Way to Store Bone Broth

Bone broth is best made in big batches but best saved in small sizes. It only stores well in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, but can be easily frozen and stored in small containers for when you need it.


I highly recommend ice cube trays (these ones from OXO are my favorite since they contain slide-able tops for easier stacking) or small BPA-freezer safe food storage containers for the best results when reheating and eating.



Upgrade Your Nutrient Intake With Bone Broth

Using a variety of bones can increase the nutrient content of the bone broth batch. Both homemade and store-bought varieties can be good options for incorporating into a healthy diet. It's important to look closely at the ingredient list and choose products that suit your unique needs.


Homemade Recipes

Store-bought bone broth can be healthy, but it can also contain additives, colorings, seasonings, and preservatives that take away some of the nutritional value for you.


Bone broth is so easy to make at home with leftover scraps and a slow cooker. Here are two of my favorite recipes for you to try:


Suggestions for Store-Bought Bone Broths


Varieties of store-bought bone broths that are low-fat, low-sodium, and full of vegetables are great options for when you don’t have time to simmer some up on your own.


I'm currently obsessed with the chef-designed Brodo bone broth brand.

Brodo is a subscription bone broth brand that allows you to customize your package. That means you get to pick and choose which bone broths you want and they get delivered to your doorstep. You can choose between frequencies which allows you to select what's best for your health.


I admire this brand so much for trying to process the broths as little as possible. They want to honor the ancient bone broth recipes and offer you wholesome ingredients. I highly recommend them -- give them a try today!




Reasons to Make Bone Broth

These days, bone broth is heralded as the latest health craze. Enthusiasts claim it as a cure-all. While that is likely more fiction than fact, bone broth is thought to have many benefits when incorporated into a healthy diet -- in moderation.


Bone Broth is Nutrient Rich

Since the vitamins and minerals are pulled into the water, bone broth is incredibly rich in nutrients. Most notably, the bones contribute calcium to the mixture, a mineral crucial to human bone health as well.


Other nutrients added by the bones to the broth include:

  • Magnesium

  • Potassium

  • Phosphorus

  • Iodine (fish)

Additionally, connective tissue contains the compounds glucosamine and chondroitin. These compounds are cartilage components that can help build healthy joints.



Marrow also adds a few things to the mixture, such as:

All the animal parts also add collagen. Collagen is a protein that has also gotten a lot of attention recently. When cooked into bone broth, it forms a gelatin and results in the release of basic protein components called amino acids.


Bone Broth is Easy to Absorb


The body can easily absorb bone broth. Think about it -- the simmering pulled out most of the nutrients already! Since meat can be mechanically hard for the body to digest, bone broth can be an excellent and easier way for the digestive system to get animal-based nutrients.


Bone Broth is Efficient for the Kitchen

Instead of piling up on waste, bone broth makes use of leftovers, sneaks in a serving of veggies that might not get eaten on their own, and is often a source of comfort. It keeps all the nutrients while avoiding wasteful food practices that are so commonplace in the average kitchen.


Christine Zoumas RD, senior dietitian and director of UC San Diego Health’s Healthy Eating Program, also makes a good point:


“Soups offer us a different way of consuming vegetables and whole grains, which are an important part of a healthy diet. And one bowl equals one meal, so it’s easy to consume and there are fewer dishes to wash!”

How & How Often Should I Consume Bone Broth?

My professional recommendation is to incorporate bone broth into your diet in a balanced way. Many have labeled bone broth a “superfood”. Eaten in their most pure or whole form, most foods are super just on their own.


While broth is said to have benefits, the science is still coming to back up broth claims.

Overconsumption is still a concern, so be sure to discuss questions with a qualified medical professional or a dietitian if you have questions specific to incorporating broths into your individual diet.


Can I drink bone broth?

Some people consume bone broth by drinking it by itself. I personally can’t stomach the texture and mix of flavors (I prefer my drinks naturally sweet instead of savory).


If you can consume it as a beverage, more power to you! If drinking it isn’t your cup of -well - bone broth, then there are plenty of other ways to make bone broth part of your wellness routine. Try replacing the water in a rice recipe with bone broth and see how the flavor changes!


How often should I consume bone broth?

There really isn’t a “right” answer to this question as long as you consume bone broth in moderation. Balance is key, and so using bone broth daily to weekly in recipes can be a great way to add variety and nutritional value to your diet.


Is there a “bad” side to bone broth?

As mentioned already in this article, eating or drinking bone broth as a component of an overall healthy diet is absolutely key to consuming it in a healthful way.


Bone broth is thought to have many health benefits. However, every bone broth differs in its composition. This makes it difficult to identify universal nutrient values and make a verdict on how beneficial bone broth really is.


To keep bone broth nutrient-rich, be sure to evaluate the following ingredients (especially when it comes to store-bought broths and stocks):

  • How much fat is left in the broth?

  • How much sodium is in the broth?

  • Does the broth contain vegetables?

Our human bodies need healthy levels of fat, sodium, and vitamins from vegetables, but just like anything else -- too much of a good thing can create a bad situation.


Is bone broth good for gut health?


Kate Scarlata RDN LDN, a digestive health dietitian, says the following of bone broth:


“I have not seen any research to support the use of bone broth for gut health. There are many claims out there. Just like chicken soup, I am sure it provides nourishment, but consuming bone broth three times a day...probably not warranted and may be risky—especially in kids.”

Is the bone broth fast safe?

While I am not a registered dietitian, as a dietetic technician I don’t recommend fasting diets. I respect religious or science supported reasons for fasting, but on the whole I believe many Americans eat in excess but are undernourished.


Bone broth fasts seem to share some stark similarities to disordered eating patterns, which can make some populations particularly prone to harmful dieting practices.


Simply stated, the benefits achieved by bone broth can equally be sustained by eating a well-balanced and healthy diet in daily life. In fact, science says so, and we know it is true because the health benefits of vegetarian diets have been well documented.


Recent research states: “Bone broths do not appear to be a better source of amino acids”. Superior to a healthy diet? No. Can they be part of a healthy diet? Yes.


Ways to Use Bone Broth

In many savory or sauce recipes, bone broth can be substituted for water to add rich flavor and hearty nutrients to the dish.


Bone broth can be added to any number of recipes, including:









The Bottom Line on Bone Broth

Drink it, sip it, eat it as part of soups, stews, and sauces. Bone broth can be used in a variety of ways to help balance a healthy diet. Just be sure you know what you are looking for on the label and use it in moderation (not as the next diet miracle product).


Ready to try bone broth? Sign up for a chef-designed Brodo subscription today for wholesome, well-balanced bone broths delivered right to your door.



 

References

Amidor T. Ask the Expert: What’s the Deal With Bone Broth. Today’s Dietitian. 2016;18(5):10.

McDonell K. Bone Broth: How to Make It and 6 Reasons Why You Should. Healthline. 2020.


Peters M. Taking Stock: the Health and Hype of Bone Broth. UC San Diego Health. 2018.


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