By Hilary Sheinbaum
Maybe you started slurping chicken noodle soup as a kid on sick days, or perhaps you love a warm bowl of Pho on a chilly winter night. In both instances, what you may not have realized is: you’ve reaped health benefits by simply sipping bone broth.
“Bone broth is a nutritious liquid made by slow-simmering bones — such as chicken or beef bones — with a little acid, which helps tenderize the bones and release more nutrients into the liquid,” says Jessie Shafer, registered dietitian for Otamot and a team member at The Real Food Dietitians.
While there are a variety of bone broth companies these days that will pre-batch (and even deliver to your door), you can make the good stuff in your own kitchen. “Homemade bone broth can be made by simmering the ingredients (chicken or beef bones + apple cider vinegar) for 24 hours over low heat on the stovetop or in a slow cooker. You can make bone broth in an Instant Pot in under 3 hours,” says Shafer. “Vegetables and herbs are often added for flavor.”
While you’re prepping and cooking in the kitchen (or placing an order), scroll through to learn about the nutritional benefits of bone broth and see if one variety yields greater results than others.
Bone broth provides more than a warm meal. Collagen, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus are consumed with each sip.
“These minerals are necessary for the regulation of body fluids, and have been linked to improved muscle function and even better sleep,” says Shafer.
One amino acid in bone broth, glutamine, is especially beneficial for immunity, improved digestion, and a healthy gut microbiome.
Shafer adds that glycine and arginine (other amino acids present in bone broth) are strong inflammation fighters that can slow the progression of inflammation-related diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease.
Lastly, for skincare and beauty fanatics: the gelatinous texture of cooled-down homemade bone broth is a good indication of the presence of collagen. And this, as you very well may know, is a protein bodies use to make amino acids for cell repair, as well as skin elasticity and hydration, shiny hair, strong nails, and healthy joints. (Shafer says consuming 1 or more cups of bone broth daily can yield stronger nails and better skin in 2 to 4 weeks).
While you might personally prefer one protein (or flavor) over the other, the benefits of all bone broths are fairly similar. “The benefits of bone broth come from the quality of ingredients and the cooking method,” says Sharon Brown, clinical nutritionist and founder of Bonafide Provisions. “It’s important to only use bones from animals that were raised on pasture — organic if possible. If you can’t make your own, shop for bone broth in the freezer section – this is where you’ll find bone broth that’s as close to homemade as possible.”
Brown says many people drink bone broth as a source of nutrients when fasting. She, however, recommends drinking bone broth while incorporating copious amounts of nutrient-rich vegetables and clean protein.
Broths that have cooked for long periods of time might not be appropriate for individuals with histamine sensitivity, says Lily Mazzarella, MS, CNS Clinical Herbalist, Certified Nutrition Specialist, and owner of Farmacopia in Santa Rosa, CA. “Broth develops histamine as it cooks over hours, and those on low histamine diets often don’t tolerate traditional stockpot broth very well. I recommend these folks try pressure-cooked bone broth, which cooks much more quickly and doesn’t have the opportunity to develop high histamine.”
Alternatively, Mazzarella recommends bone broth to anyone feeling run down, ‘off’ digestively, or like their musculoskeletal system and skin integrity could use a boost. “It’s also a big help to people transitioning off vegetarian or vegan diets who have developed some nutritional deficiency,” says Mazzarella. “Many people are open to bone broth who might not be willing to eat meat.”
Lastly, she says: people with high metabolic demands—like nursing parents, athletes, and people just generally burning the candle at both ends will be supported by broth.
… With that said: after a trying year, we could all use a little more support!