There’s nothing like sipping on a bowl of soup when you’re home sick. Something about that broth just makes you feel better, and there might be some science behind it! Bone broth, also known as stock, is made from boiling animal parts such as bones and connective tissues- think cooking a chicken carcass to make soup.
Bone broth has been a part of the human diet for thousands of years, but like many modern trends, its benefits might be overstated. Here’s the truth on the benefits of drinking bone broth.
It’s full of nutrients.
Bones and connective tissues naturally contain vitamins and nutrients such as collagen, calcium, and iron. Bone broth also provides a good source of sodium and water, making it a great option for recovering from sickness.
As great as this may sound, there’s no real evidence that bone broth provides a better source of nutrients than other foods. According to the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies, there is no proven benefit to consuming amino acids and minerals from bone broth as opposed to from other types of food. So while it might be good for you, it’s not really better than other similar options.
It’s not a meal replacement.
Bone broth is commonly touted as an easy, low-carb meal. While it might be great for getting you through the flu, it’s not a replacement for a well-rounded meal. L.J. Amaral, a clinical dietitian for the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute Patient and Family Support Program, sometimes recommends bone broth to supplement patient diets. “I will recommend broths for people who are experiencing electrolyte imbalances, especially after vomiting [or] diarrhea,” she says in an interview with Cedars-Sinai, a non-profit, academic healthcare organization. “Bone broth is not a substantial source of calories and protein. I would say it’s fine to supplement your nutrition with bone broth, but be careful with the sodium.”
So bone broth can be a great supplementary item, but don’t consider it dinner. Too much sodium can quickly outweigh any other nutritional benefits bone broth may provide!
Bone broth won’t strengthen your bones.
Collagen is a protein that is vital to bone, skin, and joint health, among other things. Collagen supplements are often promoted to improve skin elasticity or ease joint pain. One would imagine that bone broth would be a great source of collagen then, right?
Not necessarily. Boiling down the bones and bits of a carcass turns the collagen to gelatin. Not to mention, there is no real proof that ingesting collagen boosts our body’s natural collagen production. Dr. Ohara Aiva, a dermatologist at Cedars-Sinai, says the jury is still out on whether collagen supplements provide any real benefit. “It’s unclear if we absorb ingested collagen or if it’s totally broken down in the stomach,” he says. So while it won’t hurt to consider bone broth a collagen supplement, it might not yield any results.
It might contain heavy metals.
Bones have been known to store heavy metals that were present in the environment while they were living. This is especially true for animals such as fish. Boiling these bones may release toxins such as lead into the bone broth. Don’t panic- a study headed by the Department of Safety, Health and Environmental Engineering in Taiwan found that the risks associated with heavy metals in bone broth are minimal, since each batch can contain very different contents (1).
How can you make sure your broth is safe? Always do your research and purchase your broth (or ingredients) from reputable sources.
So, is bone broth really all that? Try adding it to your diet every now and then. You may find it’s overrated, or you may fall in love. It’s up to you to decide!