Bone broth is increasing in popularity among the health-conscious these days. But what exactly is in it, and what effects does it have on your health? There are many claims about the benefits of bone broth, but are they actually true? As with anything, there are pros and cons to adding this ingredient to your diet. Here's what you should know.
What Is Bone Broth?
So, what exactly do people mean when they talk about bone broth? You can get different answers depending on who you ask, but the general definition is that it's a liquid made from simmering animal bones and aromatic vegetables in water. This might sound similar to any animal stock or broth you buy from your grocery store to make soup and numerous other dishes, and that's because it is. So in reality, many of us have been consuming bone broth for years.
What about bone broth makes it so desirable to health-minded eaters these days? It turns out that a variety of nutrients are extracted from the bones and veggies as they're simmered into a broth. Here's a breakdown.
Bone broth is high in protein because many protein components are leached from the bones and connective tissue during the cooking process. Some of the most notable protein components found in bone broth are collagen and gelatin.
High in vitamin C, bone broth can play a role in maintaining a healthy immune system. It's also particularly high in vitamin B6, which is essential for energy production and metabolism.
Iron, manganese, and selenium can all be found in relatively high amounts in bone broths. Iron is important in red blood cell production, while manganese plays a large role in calcium absorption and, along with selenium, helps maintain a healthy immune system.
Sodium, potassium, and phosphorous can be found in bone broths but the amount depends on the vegetables and amount of salt added during the cooking process. These electrolytes can be beneficial for rehydration after a workout or when you're feeling sick.
While bone broth does contain some beneficial nutrients, there's research you should be aware of before jumping on the bandwagon.
Medical Hypotheses published a study that looked at the relationship between bone broth and lead contamination. Bones are known for storing lead in the body, and the process of making bone broth means lead leaches into the final product like the nutrients identified above. This study analyzed different brands of bone broth and found that each variety had high lead concentrations when compared to the water with which they were created.
While collagen and gelatin are derived from bones during the creation of broth, they are not absorbed into the body unchanged. When they're consumed, they're metabolized, just as any other protein would be, into amino acids. These amino acids are used by the body as building blocks for growth and to repair cells. While some of these amino acids may be used to increase elasticity and repair cells needed to reduce fine lines, wrinkles, and cellulite, the collagen and gelatin found in bone broth won't automatically be used for these functions when consumed, as many claim.
So what can be taken away from this look into bone broth? While there are many benefits of bone broth consumption in terms of vitamin, mineral, and protein value, bone broth is not necessarily the cure-all concoction some make it out to be. While it's no miracle liquid, bone broth can certainly be a healthful inclusion to your diet, as long as it's consumed in moderation with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.