Bone broth is a liquid containing brewed bones and connective tissues. To make bone broth, people use cow, chicken, and even fish bones. Drinking bone broth may be beneficial for the joints and digestive system, among other things.
The bones and tissues of many types of animal may make good bone broth. Bone broth also contains other important nutrients, especially minerals, derived from these tissues. This may make bone broth a beneficial dietary supplement for many people.
Simmering the bones in water with some vinegar helps release nutrients from the marrow within the bones, as well as break down other tissues into the water. The result is a flavorful, nutritious broth.
Also, brewing connective tissue into bone broth provides the body with natural compounds from the cartilage.
Tissues and bones also contain collagen. Cooking collagen turns it to gelatin, which provides the body with amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins.
It is not possible to say how much of any nutrient will be in a particular batch of bone broth, since this largely depends on the type and quantity of the bones and tissues that went into it.
However, it may be best to include many different types of bones and tissues for the highest amount of nutrients.
Bone marrow is rich in nutrients such as:
- vitamins A and K
- fatty acids
Bone broth may provide trace amounts of these nutrients, and many claim that consuming it is an easy way to take in these nutrients in a form that is easier to digest.
Adding other ingredients, such as vegetables, to the broth may also add additional nutrients.
Bone broth is a source of gelatin, which may break down into collagen in the body. This is especially important in the joints.
Cartilage in the joints tends to wear down or shrink through continual use. This can add more stress to the joints, which may become damaged as a result of the added pressure.
A 2017 review that appears in the journal Sports Medicinesuggests that both laboratory and animal studies show that gelatin supplementation increases the amount of collagen in the tissues. This may help protect the joints from unnecessary stress.
Consuming bone broth may be a good way to add gelatin to the diet, which may help protect these joints.
The compounds present in bone broth help maintain the joints, and they may also help people who already have osteoarthritis.
A 2016 study in the Nutrition Journallooked at the effects of type 2 collagen in people who had osteoarthritis symptoms in their knees. The collagen came from the connective tissue of chickens.
Its results show that collagen can improve knee joint symptoms, such as pain, stiffness, and poorer physical function, in people with osteoarthritis.
Consuming bone broth may be an easy way to deliver the same type of collagen, along with other helpful nutrients, to the body.
Some amino acids present within bone broth may also be helpful for digestion. An amino acid called glutamine seems very promising.
As a 2017 study in the journal Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care notes, glutamine supplementation helps heal the intestinal barrier in human and animal models.
This may help with conditions such as leaky gut, which irritates the mucosal lining in the intestines and interferes with the body's ability to digest food.
As a 2017 study in the journal Nutrientssays, people with inflammatory bowel disease tend to have lower levels of some amino acids in their bodies. For these people, getting additional amino acids into their diets may help with some symptoms of the condition.
Drinking bone broth daily may be a simple way to get anti-inflammatory amino acids into the body.
The amino acids in bone broth may also promote better sleep in some people. A 2015 study in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology reports that the amino acid glycine is a safe therapeutic option to improve sleep.
People who take glycine before going to sleep may feel that they sleep better and have less fatigue during the following day. For these people, drinking bone broth with a simple dinner may help provide this glycine.
Bone broth may also help people lose weight. It is high in protein, which helps the body feel fuller for longer and supports calorie restriction.
A 2017 study in the Journal of Renal Nutrition points out that the average cup of chicken bone broth contains more protein than the average cup of basic chicken broth.
Drinking bone broth or making a simple soup may be a beneficial way to add more protein to the diet and feel more satisfied with a meal without consuming too many calories.
Stores carry bone broth, but it is also very easy to make at home.
A simple way to make it is to save bones from other meals. For instance, a chicken carcass that is complete with beak and claws may make a good basis for a bone broth.
Many butchers and meat sections at grocery stores also sell any bones that they have available.
To make homemade bone broth, try the following recipe:
- 1 gallon of water
- 1 ounce of vinegar
- 3–4 pounds of bones and tissues
Boil the ingredients together in a large pot or slow cooker, then reduce to a simmer for 10–24 hours before letting it cool. Strain through a cheesecloth and pour into smaller containers for storage.
It might also help to add salt, vegetables, and spices such as sage or thyme to give the broth more flavor.
After making a big batch of broth, store it in smaller containers in the freezer. Heat these smaller containers as needed, and the broth will last longer.
Bone broth contains readily available nutrients and minerals that may help keep the body working at its best. How much of any nutrient will be in each individual batch is difficult to predict.
There may be additional benefits to bone broth that research is still to uncover. For now, bone broth is a highly nutritious drink that may support the body and many of its functions.