Health Benefits of Bone Broth
A staple of home kitchens for centuries, broth has long been prized for its healing qualities. Beyond being the culinary go-to treatment for colds and flus, people across cultures have consumed broth for ailments of the digestive system, joints, skin, lungs, muscles and blood. After decades of resorting to the convenience of bouillon cubes, boxed and canned stock – sacrificing taste and abandoning nutrition in the process – many are bringing homemade broth back into the kitchen for its exceptional flavor and health benefits.
What is Broth?
Simply put, broth is stock. Both broth and stock are made by simmering bones and vegetables in water for hours. Some distinguish between the two, saying broth is usually simmered with meat, while stock is not. Both are used as a flavorful foundation for soups and stews, but broth is delicious enough to drink on its own.
What are the Benefits of Drinking Broth Regularly?
Bone broth has been regarded as a healing food throughout history. While best known in modern times for soothing the common cold and flu, it has traditionally been used to:
- promote healthy digestion and a healthy gut
- reduce joint pain and inflammation
- promote strong bones
- support the immune system to help fight infectious disease
- alleviate autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis
- support wound healing
- help prevent cancer
- slow aging
- promote healthy hair and nail growth
Studies on bone broth are scarce; however, existing research on broth and its constituents supports some of what people across the globe have believed for centuries.
One study, published in the journal Chest, suggests there is validity to broth’s usefulness in fighting infectious disease. The study’s authors state that “chicken soup may contain a number of substances with beneficial medicinal activity”, and appears to have a mild anti-inflammatory effect that may help reduce symptoms of the common cold.
Another study, published in the Annals of the College of Medicine, Mosul, supports bone broth’s use for bone health and healing. In the study, rabbits that consumed bone broth along with their normal diet for 5 weeks showed significantly quicker healing of bone fractures compared to rabbits that consumed only their normal diet.
Bone broth is a good source of the amino acid glutamine, which supports gut health. In a study published in Lancet, patients receiving parenteral nutrition enriched with glutamine showed less deterioration of gut permeability, preserved mucosal structure and maintained intestinal permeability compared to patients who received standard total parenteral nutrition.
What is the Nutritional Content of Broth?
A long cooking time extracts rich flavor, amino acids, minerals, such as potassium, phosphorus and magnesium, gelatin, collagen and proteoglycans, like hyaluronic acid, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate from the bones, meat and vegetables used to make broth. Unsalted broth contains only naturally occurring sodium, unlike typical boxed or canned varieties, which contain as much as 850mg per serving. In homemade broth the flavor comes from fresh ingredients, not excess salt.
Who Benefits From Consuming Broth?
Many people are incorporating broth into their regular diet for reasons beyond its culinary uses. Anyone who has had a cold has probably used broth, in the form of chicken soup, for healing. Bone broth is a staple food of the GAPs (gut and psychology syndrome) diet – which uses nutrition to help individuals with autism, ADHD/ADD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, depression and schizophrenia – and the Paleo diet. Those who suffer from a number of health concerns, ranging from osteoarthritis to digestive issues, are turning to broth for its traditional uses. And with its naturally occurring electrolytes, protein, and lack of added sugar, athletes are turning to broth as a perfect way to rehydrate and replenish after an intense workout.
Drink it or cook with it – you get the same benefits, and rich flavor from broth either way! Support your health and elevate your home cooked meals by drinking or cooking with homemade broth regularly.
Van der Hulst, R.R.W.J., et al. “Glutamine and the Preservation of Gut Integrity.” The Lancet, 341:8857 (1993): 1363-1365.
Aljumaily, Mahmood A. “The Effect of Concentrated Bone Broth as a Dietary Supplementation on Bone Healing in Rabbits.” Annals of the College of Medicine, Mosul, 37:1&2 (2011): 42-47.
Rennard, Barbara O., et al. “Chicken Soup Inhibits Neutrophil Chemotaxis In Vitro” Chest 118:4 (2000): 1150-1157.