A few months ago, I went on the record declaring that I don’t make my own stock. No sooner had I made that confession than I started to read about the resurgence of bone broth as an "it" health food, one being offered from food carts in Portland, Oregon, and from take-out windows in New York City.
You also may have noticed the bone broth trend. It’s not just broth; it’s not just stock. It’s definitely bone broth — broth made from simmering beef, chicken, turkey, fish or any animal bones along with some meat for a long time to extract the nutrition from them. When simmered with the traditional trio of carrots, celery and onion along with herbs, bone broth has become a tasty, on-the-go, nutritious, fast-to-consume food.
Does bone broth deserve the surge in attention it’s received over the past year? Is it something you should be sipping every day? And, if it is, should you be making it yourself instead of buying it in a can?
The health benefits of bone broth
The most cited benefit of drinking bone broth is its nutritional value. According to The Nourished Kitchen, minerals and other nutrients from the bones leach into the water as the bones simmer, aided by the addition of something slightly acidic like cider vinegar.
The calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, glucosamine, chondroiton and other minerals from the bones get absorbed by your body and aid in bone and joint health, among other things. The gelatin that comes from the bones can help with hair and nail growth and strength.
Another benefit, according to Shape, is the collagen in the bone broth. The collagen can help improve your skin and keep you looking youthful.
Bone broth can also add a boost to your immune system. Think of the healing powers of chicken noodle soup when you have a cold. It’s the anti-inflammatory components in the chicken broth that ease upper respiratory tract infections, according to Care 2, and that's what makes chicken noodle soup an effective remedy when you have a cold. Soup made with long-simmered, homemade chicken bone broth is more effective for fighting a cold than opening a can that's been flavored mostly with salt. Store-bought canned broths don't have the same powerful nutritional punch as homemade broths.
Other benefits of homemade bone broth
Aside from the health benefits, there are other reasons to make your own bone broth. It’s economical. Bones are inexpensive to buy if you don't have any leftover from cooking, and bone broth is an economical superfood. It may be time consuming to make, but much of that time is hands-off, and a large pot goes a long way. Extra can be made and frozen.
Additionally, there’s some evidence to suggest that bone broth can replace dietary supplements. That’s an additional financial savings. Of course, if you have any serious health problems for which you’re taking medicine or supplements, you should talk to your doctor before replacing them with bone broth.
A final benefit to bone broth is one of frugality, making sure nothing goes to waste. Making bone broth ensures that the bones of an animal that has been raised for food get used to their maximum potential. When the bones are discarded without being used, all the nutrients in them go to waste.
With all of these potential benefits, I may have to lift my self-imposed ban on making my own broth and give my fellow MNN food blogger Kimi's recipe for homemade chicken broth a shot.
Related on MNN:
- 10 superfoods that can improve your life
- The science of natural cold remedies
- 30 hearty soup recipes for fall and winter