Another WTF Wednesday comin’ in hot (literally)! Hot broth, that is. I wanted to write about bone broth this week, because it occurred to me that I wasn’t even sure if I knew what bone broth is. I mean, sure, I’ve been watching influencers drink it and listening to them tell me it’s healthy for well over a year, but did I really know what the heck it even is? Let’s find out together, shall we?
What is bone broth?
Bone broth is made from simmering bones—which are typically roasted—and connective tissue of animals for anywhere from 8 to over 24 hours. It can be made using bones from just about any animal. Marrow and connective tissues like feet, hooves, beaks, gizzards or fins can be used. Bone broth is most commonly used in soups and sauces, but it has recently been gaining popularly as a drink, too.
Much like intermittent fasting, bone broth is by no means a new trend. Bone broth dates back to prehistoric times, when throwing away or wasting anything edible was out of the question.
What’s the difference between bone broth, broth, and stock?
Regular broth is usually made from meat and vegetables (maybe with a small amount of bones, but not necessarily) and only simmered for about 45 minutes to 2 hours. This makes it very light in flavor and rich in protein.
Stock, on the other hand, is usually made from bones and connective tissue of animals and simmered for a longer period of time (anywhere from 2 to 8 hours). Due to the use of bones and longer simmering time, stock is rich in gelatin (the result of collagen being cooked down). You can read more about the health benefits of collagen and other ways to incorporate it into your diet here.
Hold up. Is it just me or did the above descriptions of bone broth and stock sound incredibly similar? This is where things get a little hairy (they always seem to get hairy at some point). Some sources will argue that stock and bone broth are… the same. While other sources insist that there is a distinct difference. The main difference, it seems, is that bone broth is simmered for the longest amount of time, therefore containing the most collagen-rich gelatin, the most health benefits, and even forming a gelatinous texture when refrigerated (don’t worry—this goes away once it’s reheated).
What are the health benefits of bone broth?
Similarly to collagen peptides, bone broth is said to support bone and joint health—making bones stronger and reducing joint pain. In addition to collagen, bones and bone marrow are rich in a number of other nutrients, including calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, vitamins A and K, fatty acids, selenium, zinc, and manganese. Through the process of making bone broth, these nutrients are released into the water in a form our bodies can easily digest and absorb.
Bone broth is also said to aid in healthy digestion and overall gut health. Studies show that gelatin is helpful in protecting and restoring the strength of the gastrointestinal tract, which could be especially helpful for those with IBS or any other gut issues.
A few other, less-researched health benefits of bone broth include reducing inflammation, improving sleep, supporting a healthy immune system and metabolism, and strengthening hair, skin, and nails. Not all super heroes wear capes…?
Why I’ve been buying bone broth
Other than the fact that it’s been extra ~*trendy*~, I honestly find myself buying bone broth because, when I compare the ingredients of the broths, stocks, and bone broths at my grocery store, the bone broth always has the most favorable ingredients. Both times I did Whole30, bone broth was the only compliant broth/stock I was able to find (at a reasonable price).
Broth, stock, bone broth—it’s all pretty interchangeable. So for me, I choose the item with the fewest ingredients. I also just generally prefer the taste and depth of flavor of stock or bone broth over regular broth. That’s not to say I’ve started drinking bone broth straight up, but I do use it when cooking. (Although, after doing all of this bone-broth research, who knows!)
Whether or not the health benefits of bone broth seem worth exploring to you, remember to always check your nutrition labels for unnecessary additives and preservatives and decide accordingly. Whole foods are more important than any health + wellness trend ever will be. And please, don’t feel pressured to buy some crazy-expensive bone broth just because you see others on the ‘Gram drinking it on the reg. You can certainly still be healthy without it!
This post is part of our WTF series—where we’ll break down some of the latest food, fitness, and health + wellness trends blowing up your Instagram feed.