If you are on social media lately, you may have noticed people consuming bone broth for its potential benefits such as aiding in digestion, skin and joint health, detoxification, and wound healing. After hearing the claims made by bone broth advocates, you still may be left wondering what exactly bone broth is and if these claims are even true. To break it down, let’s discuss three things you should know before consuming bone broth: what it is, the nutrient content, and the available research. 

What is bone broth? 

Bone broth consists of simmering baked animal bones in water for 24-48 hours. This differs from regular stock, where it only simmers for 3-4 hours. Simmering the bones in the water for 24-48 hours allows enough time for the nutrients to be released from the bones. 

What nutrients are in bone broth? 

Bone broth can be a source of a variety of nutrients like magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, and protein. However, at Healthy Steps Nutrition, we encourage getting our nutrients from a variety of whole foods, rather than relying on a single source. Think of bone broth as an addition to your diet, like any other food!  

Let’s compare bone broth to some other foods: 

1 cup Bone Broth 

12 g Protein

1 g Carbohydrates 

2 g Fiber

2 g Fat 

1 cup Black Beans

14 g Protein 

38 g Carbohydrates 

15 g Fiber

2 g Fat 

1 Hard-Boiled Egg 

6 g Protein 

1 g Carbohydrates

0 g Fiber

5 g Fat

1 cup cooked collard greens 

4 g Protein 

12 g Carbohydrates

7.6 g Fiber 

0 g Fat 

 

While bone broth can have various nutrients, there are other sources to consider such as green leafy vegetables and legumes. 

Bone broth also provides three important amino acids, glutamine, glycine, and proline. These are known as “conditionally essential amino acids”, which are required more when the body is under stress. 

Glycosaminoglycans (GAG), complex carbohydrates that help support connective tissue and joints, are also found in bone broth. Three examples of GAG you may have heard of include hyaluronic acid, chondroitin, and keratin. 

Due to the unique components of bone broth, you can see why it is viewed as beneficial for your health. But what does the research say?  

What is the available research on bone broth? 

There is limited evidence backing the many health claims of bone broth. However, certain components of bone broth and their effects on gut health have been studied. 

For example, glutamine has been shown to stimulate the growth of the cells that form the mucosa in our gut. Glutamine also shows promise in protecting the gut from weakening and injury from stress. 

Collagen is also found in bone broth, which is an important part of our connective tissues, making up the skin, bones, tendons and cartilage. However, it must be changed with the use of an enzyme to become available for our body to use. This available form is known as collagen hydrolysate, which has been shown through oral supplementation to slow decreases in skin elasticity by increasing the hyaluronic acid content in the skin. Check out this blog post on collagen benefits

Glycine has been shown to aid in the production of stomach and bile acid. Stomach acid helps break down the protein we consume. Bile acid is needed for absorbing fats and fat-soluble vitamins, like vitamins A, D, E, and K. 

Gelatin has been shown to absorb water and maintain the layer of mucus that keeps harmful microbes away from the intestinal barrier.

Here are 3 ways to add in bone broth to your diet: 

  1. Instead of adding water when cooking rice, add bone broth. 
  2. Replace water with bone broth in your crockpot recipe. 
  3. On a chili day, drink a cup of bone broth to warm you up. 

Bottom line is, although bone broth contains several health promoting compounds, the research on the benefits of human consumption is very limited. 

 

References: 

  1. Health Benefits of Bone Broth. Nutrition by Erin. November 3, 2017. Accessed August 28, 2019. https://nutritionbyerin.com/health-benefits-bone-broth/

 

  1. Wang, B., Wu, G., Zhou, Z. et al. Amino Acids (2015) 47: 2143. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00726-014-1773-4

 

  1. Morifuji M. The beneficial role of functional food components in mitigating ultraviolet‐induced skin damage. Experimental Dermatology. (2019) 29:28-31.  

 

  1. Scaldaferri F, Lopetuso LR, Petito V, et al. Gelatin tannate ameliorates acute colitis in mice by reinforcing mucus layer and modulating gut microbiota composition: Emerging role for ‘gut barrier protectors’ in IBD?. United European Gastroenterol J. 2014;2(2):113–122. doi:10.1177/2050640614520867