Five Big Benefits of Bone Broth (plus recipes)
Bone broth has only recently started to gain traction, but this savory, healthy broth has actually been around for centuries. In fact, practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine have been using bone broth for ages to strengthen the kidneys and support digestion, while the English have been sipping beef “tea” since the Victorian era.
A staple of the Paleo diet – an eating plan that mimics the diet of prehistoric hunter-gatherers – bone broth is made by simmering animal bones and connective tissues for 24 hours or longer. It is believed to confer a wide range of benefits, from healthy skin and nails to healthy workout recovery.
Experts attribute most of these benefits to collagen, a protein released as animal bones and tissues are simmered.
Collagen makes up about 25 to 35 percent of the body’s total protein content. It’s a key component of your skin, bones, muscles and more. It’s essentially the glue that holds your body together.
Your body naturally produces collagen, but its ability to do so declines as you age. This is why older adults tend to have wrinkles, sagging skin and thinning hair. One of the ways you can boost your collagen levels is by adding bone broth to your diet.
Here are some of the impressive health benefits of bone broth:
1. It helps relieve common cold symptoms
Chicken soup is a tried-and-tested remedy for the common cold. You may think this is just an old tradition, but the healing abilities of chicken soup are actually backed by science. According to a study published in Chest, chicken soup contains substances that give it an anti-inflammatory effect. Chicken soup is usually made by cooking leftover bits of chicken, skin and bones included. This is also known as chicken bone broth.
Chicken soup or bone broth loaded with vegetables can also stop the migration of neutrophils – white blood cells that defend against respiratory infections like the common cold. This action stops inflammation and soothes symptoms like sore throat and stuffy nose.
2. It eases digestive issues
Collagen maintains and builds healthy connective tissue in the digestive tract. This may be why low levels of collagen cause digestive problems like leaky gut syndrome and inflammatory bowel syndrome (IBS).
An easy way to naturally boost your collagen levels is to consume collagen-rich bone broth. The collagen in this hearty broth contains several amino acids, including glycine and glutamine. Both of these amino acids play a role in rebuilding the tissue lining of your digestive tract. Additionally, glycine helps reduce inflammation, which is at the root of IBS.
3. It aids in weight loss
Bone broth normally contains more protein than the average broth. Protein helps enhance the feeling of fullness and curbs appetite by affecting the levels of hormones that influence satiety. One such hormone is ghrelin, which is better known as the “hunger hormone.”
The glycine in bone broth also helps stabilize blood sugar levels. Low and high blood sugar can increase your appetite and cause hunger pangs.
4. It supports healthy workout recovery
Your body uses glycine from bone broth to make creatine. This compound provides your muscles with the energy to perform quick, short bursts of activity, such as weightlifting and sprinting. Creatine also helps improve exercise performance.
Bone broth also contains glucosamine, a compound typically found in cartilage. Glucosamine can stimulate the growth of new collagen, repair damaged joints and reduce pain and inflammation.
5. It helps maintain healthy skin and nails
The collagen in bone broth can also benefit your skin and nails. Several studies have shown that collagen promotes nail growth and strengthens nails to prevent chipping or cracking. In one study, Japanese researchers also found that, when taken orally, collagen helped keep the skin firm and elastic.
How to make bone broth
You can make bone broth with animal bones and connective tissues alone. But some people like to throw in vegetables as well to make a healthier broth. For best results, opt for joint bones like the knuckles and feet. Simmering slowly on low heat with an acidic ingredient like vinegar will also enhance nutrient extraction.
Here’s a simple recipe for bone broth:
Ingredients for 8 servings:
4 pounds beef bones
2 bay leaves
2 carrots, cut into two-inch pieces
2 celery stalks, cut into two-inch pieces
1 leek, cut into two-inch pieces
1 onion, quartered
1 garlic head, halved
12 cups water
2 tablespoons whole peppercorns
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (ACV)
- Preheat the oven to 450 F.
- Put the bones, carrots, leek, onion and garlic on a roasting pan and cook in the oven for 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and stir before cooking for another 20 minutes.
- Pour the water into a slow cooker and add the celery, bay leaves, peppercorns, ACV, beef bones and vegetables. Add more water if necessary to cover the ingredients.
- Cover the slow cooker and bring it to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low.
- Simmer on low for eight to 24 hours. It’s done when it’s golden brown and the bones are falling apart.
- Let the broth cool slightly, then set a fine-mesh sieve over a large pot. Pour the broth into the pot and discard the bones and vegetables.
- Pour into an airtight container and let cool completely. Refrigerate overnight.
Recipe for chicken bone broth
Take your chicken soup to the next level with this recipe for chicken bone broth.
Ingredients for 8 servings:
- 2 pounds chicken bones
- 2 carrots, cut into two-inch pieces
- 2 celery stalks, cut into two-inch pieces
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 green bell pepper, roughly chopped
- 1 onion, roughly chopped
- 1 garlic head
- 12 cups water
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley
- 1/4 cup fresh thyme
- 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
- 1 tablespoon ACV
- Rinse the vegetables and herbs and place them in a slow cooker.
- Add the bones and the remaining ingredients. Add more water if necessary to cover the ingredients.
- Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 12 to 18 hours. Once done, remove from heat.
- Let cool slightly, then set a fine-mesh sieve over a large pot. Pour the broth into the pot and discard the bones and vegetables.
- Pour into an airtight container. Let cool completely before refrigerating.
- Adding bone broth to your daily diet is a great way to naturally boost your collagen levels. You can enjoy this savory broth on its own or serve it as a side dish. You can also use bone broth in place of water when cooking grains like rice and quinoa.
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