Walk through a local market these days and you’re sure to see it: bone broth. This deeply colored, rich liquid is popular with health conscious folks looking to boost their well-being. But how is bone broth different than regular stock? And is it better for you?
What is bone broth?
Broth is any savory liquid made from water in which bones have been simmered to extract nutrients and flavor.
Is it different than stock?
Nope. Bone broth and stock are the same.
Confusion sometimes surrounds the two because of small differences that are primarily a matter of our perception:
- Stock is made from bones and is often thought of as thicker and more viscous. That consistency comes from collagen, which seeps out of the joints and bones during its long-simmering cook time.
- Broth is traditionally thought of as thinner, possibly because many of us grew up with it coming out of cans or boxes. Broth is sometimes made with meat and bones, rather than just being made from bones stripped bare of all meat.
What are the health benefits of bone broth?
Proponents tout bone broth as helping:
- Strengthen bones
- Relieve joint pain
- Remove wrinkles
- Boost immunity
- Improve digestion
Some of these claims have basis in facts. Collagen helps ease joint pain and improve skin tone, and bone broth does contain collagen. The problem is that dietary collagen isn’t absorbed and sent directly to your bones or skin, so you’re not going to see those benefits immediately. Collagen, however, is broken down into an amino acid, which eventually becomes a building block for body tissues. The same absorption issue is true of gelatin, which is thought by some to be a digestive aid, though that has yet to be scientifically proven. However, when it comes to calcium and strengthening bones, the evidence is more clear: Even when broth is simmered for 48 hours, bones simply don’t release enough calcium to move the needle.
The good news, however, is there are no major drawbacks to bone broth. You can also have better control of the amount of sodium and fat if you make it yourself. So if you like it, drink up.
Are there any confirmed health benefits?
- Bone broth is a good source of protein, containing 6 to 12 grams a cup.
- It’s also a good thing to drink if you like savory beverages and are looking to cut down on caffeine (coffee or tea) or sugary drinks (soda).
- Broth is a good low-calorie snack, and there is evidence that people who begin a meal with a bowl of soup consume fewer calories overall.
- Chicken soup has also been shown to help clear nasal passages and help reduce inflammation.
Want to make your own chicken soup? Try one of these 7 versions from around the world.