Bone broth has created quite a stir because it’s believed to offer significant health benefits. But what makes it any different than your typical chicken or vegetable broth?
Bone broth is made from simmering animal bones and connective tissue for several hours. It’s often used as a base for soup, sauces and gravies, but lately, people have been drinking it on its own. Celebrities like Gwenyth Paltrow and Shailene Woodley have been known to drink it by the glass.
Sometimes referred to as stock, bone broth can be made from the bones of nearly any animal, but chicken and beef are the most popular. (Marrow and other connective tissues, like feet or gizzards, can also be used.) It’s almost the same thing as traditional stock, but it can be a bit thicker.
How the Best Bone Broth Is Made
Bone broth as a beverage dates back to prehistoric times when hunter-gatherers would transform inedible animal parts into something consumable.
Unlike stock, bone broth is usually made without vegetables and also sees vinegar added, which helps release the gelatin and nutrients from the bones. The longer the bones simmer, the more gelatin gets released, which is what causes bone broth to thicken. (This is the same ingredient used to texture Jell-O, which is why that jiggly dessert isn’t considered vegan or even vegetarian.)
While you can purchase premade broth from the store, some claim the best bone broth is always homemade. You can make your own with a gallon of water, two pounds of animal bones and two tablespoons of vinegar.
According to Cedars-Sinai, bone broths can increase hydration and be beneficial to balancing electrolytes that have gotten out of whack after you’ve been ill or excessively sweating. It can also add variety to those following a liquid diet. While it’s not a source of substantial calories or protein, it can be high in sodium, especially canned bone broth.
Is Bone Broth a Cure-All?
Since it’s a low-calorie drink, some people claim bone broth can help you slim down. Despite what celebs tout, bone broth is not a magic wand for weight loss or a miracle cure for any type of health issue. Health experts seem to agree there is little evidence available to back up all the hype because there’s no real data to show it restores collagen or heals inflammation.
As far as fueling weight loss goes, bone broth can satisfy hunger, which could be a small help in addition to other steps taken. It can also flavor a dish without adding many calories.
While bone broth might provide vitamins and enzymes, most are likely to be denatured from the heat during simmering, which makes them less beneficial to the body. Since each batch is different, it’s hard to say how rich bone broth is in collagen and certain minerals in general.
However, it’s unlikely to harm you unless you drink it in large quantities. Studies have found small amounts of lead in broth. This is because animal bones are known to contain trace amounts of toxic metals and minerals, and lead can be released during the cooking process.
While sipping on the best bone broth you can find can physically warm you up or replace electrolytes lost from illness, it’s not a panacea.
What might be advantageous about the bone broth craze, however, is that it’s helping people move back to eating at home, preparing whole foods to nourish their bodies. The more thoughtful we are about what we consume the better.
Have you ever tried drinking bone broth on its own for weight loss or other potential health benefits?