Who doesn’t love a good bowl of chicken noodle soup when those wintertime sniffles hit? Whether you’re nine or ninety, homemade soup is often the favorite do-it-yourself remedy for temporary relief of symptoms related to health and well-being.
Believe it or not, there may be an even better treatment for what ails you than the chicken noodle soup of your childhood: bone broth. From upper-respiratory and digestive issues to joint discomfort, the potential of bone broth to provide temporary relief and promote good health is encouraging to many. And if that’s not enough to make you a believer, just try it – the flavorful liquid may just make you a fan with your first sip. When it comes down to it, if you want to live a healthy life and eat well, bone broth may be the recipe for you.
What Exactly Is Bone Broth?
To put it simply, bone broth is exactly what the name implies – broth made out of the bones of the animals we already eat. This nutrient-rich food can be made from cattle, poultry, lamb or even fish by boiling all the parts of the animal that can’t be eaten directly into the smooth and delicious broth. Actually, bone broth is more than just bones. Common elements of bone broth also include bone marrow, cartilage, skin, tendons, and ligaments.
While it may seem a bit weird to take all those leftovers and cook them into something you ingest, bone broths have actually been a culinary tradition for thousands across the globe. From ancient times, societies all over the world have placed a special emphasis on using the whole animal for food and nutrition. Whether cooking and eating the meat directly or breaking everything else down into broth, cultures have always made sure that absolutely nothing goes to waste. In countries like Vietnam, bone broth is a staple in popular dishes like Pho, and in Europe, it makes up countless dishes from soups and stews to sauces and reductions.
Nutrients in bone broth come from the process of simmering bones and other elements over a long period of time in order to draw out the vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that lie inside. Eaten on its own or as part of a soup or sauce, bone broth can contribute greatly to a balanced diet and healthy immune system.
Why You Need Bone Broth
For everyday use, bone broth promotes health and wellness in a myriad of ways. In fact, many natural health advocates have begun reintroducing the ancient remedy of bone broth as part of a well-rounded nutritional lifestyle. Why? Because bone broth provides many essential nutrients and boasts a number of potential health benefits that we need to live thriving lives.
Here are three of the most commonly occurring nutrients in bone broth:
For many people, collagen is best known for promoting healthy looking skin. It’s the main ingredient in the support of youthful-looking tone and texture of your skin while helping to fight wrinkles, puffiness and other signs of aging. But collagen is actually important when it comes to the rest of your body as well. It is the main protein that helps build and maintain your connective tissue, protect your gastrointestinal tract and hold your bones together while allowing them to glide and move freely. Taking its name from the root “kola,” which means “glue,” collagen is found in bones, ligaments, tendons, skin, cartilage, and bone marrow.
2. Amino Acids (from Gelatin)
Collagen and gelatin are often used interchangeably, but there is an important distinction when it comes to how they work in the body and their respective potential health benefits. Gelatin is actually the breakdown of collagen and produces a lot of amino acids. Known as the building blocks of protein, amino acids combine to make up the proteins we need to survive. While our bodies naturally create 10 of the 20 amino acids we need, half of them must be included in a daily diet to fill the gap. Thanks to the nutrient-rich gelatin that bone broth creates, our bodies can receive essential amino acids like glutamine, glycine, and proline, three essential elements that promote everything from gut and cellular health to tissue and muscle integrity.
3. Electrolytes and Other Minerals
Minerals found in bone broth include sulphur, which supports health of the body’s joints, cartilage, tendons and ligaments, silicon, which promotes healthy looking hair, skin, nails, and overall bone health, and micro-minerals like zinc and copper, which support protein growth and protect from cell damage, not to mention the ever-important electrolyte. Electrolytes are minerals found in the blood that makes sure the body functions properly. Electrolytes and the calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus found in them, support bone health, nervous system and muscle function, and the cardiovascular system.
Given all the nutrients found in bone broth, it’s no wonder so many people love it. And if you’re not convinced yet, here’s a quick list of potential benefits bone broth may support:
- Healthy looking hair, skin, and nails
- Hormonal balance
- Joint protection
- Bone health
- Heart health
- Liver and kidney health
- Eye and brain health
- Sleep quality
- Energy levels
- Cognitive abilities
Our Favorite Bone Broth Recipe
The potential power of bone broth lies in its cooking process. And while bone broth may take a long time to make (48-72 hours, in fact), that process is pretty simple.
- Purchase organic, grass-fed animal components with some meat still on the bones if possible. (Or better yet, buy it with all the meat on the bones and have some for dinner first!) Make sure you have a little bit of everything including bones, bone marrow, feet, joint cartilage, knuckles, skin, ligaments, and tendons.
- Use scissors or a knife to break the bones into pieces that are about 2-3 inches long.
- Place the bones in a slow cooker, crock pot or large stove-top pot and cover with cold water.
- Add 2 tablespoons of rice, wine, cider or balsamic vinegar for every quart of water or 2 pounds of bones. The acid will help break the bones down, drawing out the nutrients as the bones turn to the broth.
- Set the crockpot to low or bring the water to a boil and then turn down the heat to low. Simmer for several hours based on the type of meat you are using – anywhere from 6-48 hours for chicken and 12-72 for beef.
- Check your broth periodically for the residue that rises to the top. Gelatinous broth means it’s high in nutrients but you don’t want the stuff that looks like scum at the top!
- With 1-2 hours of cooking left, add in any vegetables, herbs, and spices you want to add taste. A few great options for flavorful broth include onions, garlic, ginger, celery, carrots, parsley and black pepper.
- When your broth is finished remove and discard the bones and vegetables and strain the broth through a colander to make sure it’s smooth.
- Cool the broth at room temperature until the leftover fat hardens on the top. Remove the fat and discard it.
- Refrigerate the broth for up to 5 days or store it in the freezer for months. Your delicious bone broth will be ready to reheat and eat whenever you want it and can be used for everything from soups to sauces to a healthy drinkable snack. You can even use it in place of water when cooking rice or pasta!
Too Busy to Make Your Own?
If the idea of making your own bone broth just sounds like another obligation on your long to-do list, you can always purchase supplements made from organic sources like bone broth protein powder or bone broth collagen powder from trusted providers like Natural Healthy Concepts.
Check out an infographic from Natural Healthy Concepts to learn more about the potential benefits and uses of bone broth.