I am still trying to recover from the holidays. Family gatherings are always special but with worries about colds and flu, such celebrations make me uneasy. I know my kin wouldn’t impose illness upon me knowingly, it’s those hundreds of others rushing to and fro, coughing, sneezing, and bumping into us in the hustle that make me pause.
As I was chatting with my sister-in-law during Christmas, she brought up how she had been experimenting with bone broth and had heard much of its curative properties. I have been equally curious as I am susceptible to colds and various ailments and constantly wringing my hands this time of year over every sniffle.
But is bone broth able to live up to its recent celebrated status of wonder cure? I thought I would dig into the facts before turning my kitchen upside down with pots of simmering water and animal carcasses. What I discovered was intresting. Let’s begin with the same questions I had about bone broth.
What is bone broth?
Essentially, bone broth is acheived by simmering animal bones in water for a long period of time, usually 24 hours. Many use a pressure cooker to speed up this process. Simmering allows for the collagen and gelatin deep within the bones to be released along with any amino acids and minerals stored in the bones.
What are some of the claims of bone broth’s benefits?
People who drink bone broth claim doing so will make your skin glow, as well as protecting joints, help the body to detox, and that it is good for gut health, among others claims.
Will drinking bone broth give me better health?
As of right now, research hasn’t proven bone broth will help your overall health. The claims of bone broth and its benefits are not supported by clinical research. It is important to note none of the claims about bone broth’s benefits have been proven by research or clinical studies.
Is drinking bone broth bad for me?
No. It isn’t bad for you, but it isn’t a cure all. In fact, research shows you will receive better health benefits from eating from a diet chocked full of fruits and vegetables. Obtaining protein from meats, poultry, eggs, dairy, and beans are a better way to obtain the protein your body needs. Fruits and vegetables actually provide more minerals and nutrients than bone broth. Some examples:
1 cup of collards= 150 mg of calcium
1 cup of baked beans= 14 grams of protein
2 tablespoons of peanut butter= 7 grams of protein
Compare that with an average cup of bone broth that was found to have zero to 19 mg of calcium and six to nine grams of protein.
A study conducted in 2017, published in “Food and Nutrition Research,” analyzed bone broth and discovered it was, “not an especially good source of calcium or magnesium.” Furthermore, most of the nutrients found in bone broth come from the vegetables often cooked with the bones. It has been observed that vegetables, not animal bones, are the richest source for the vitamins, minerals and daily nutrients your body needs.
There has also been concern about lead levels in animal bones as the bones, in animals as well as humans, is where our bodies store lead and other heavy metals. In a study published by “Medical Hypotheses,” a peer-reviewed journal, researchers examined the levels of lead found in broth made from organic chicken bones, and found the “broth had concentrations that were a up to a 10-fold increase compared to the water before the bones were added to it.”
Are there any alternatives?
If you would like to try your own broth, researchers suggest a vegetable based alternative, one with mushrooms, miso, seaweed, and other vegetables. Mushrooms are high in selenium, B vitamins, as well as iron and zinc. Seaweed contains essential iodine which is key for a healthy thyroid. And fermented foods such as miso, along with spices like ginger or turmeric can help as they contain ant-inflammatory agents.
So, if you are wanting a broth to warm you on a chilly day, or need a little pick-me-up as you nurse a cold, try a broth base of vegetables and spices. Bone broth with vegetables is fine if you prefer a meaty taste to your broth. Just remember, when the next celebrity touts a health claim, check it out first. And keep yourself hydrated and healthy this year.
Macaela Mackenzie, “Does Bone Broth Actually Have Any Health Benefits?.” Hearst Magazine Media, Inc. 2020. Aug. 8, 2018. https://www.prevention.com/food-nutrition/a22668149/bone-broth-benefits/
Ocean Robbins, “The Surprising Truth About Bone Broth.” http://www.foodrevolution.com. Food Revolution Network. Nov. 9, 2018. https://foodrevolution.org/blog/bone-broth-benefits/