No Bones About it!

By Carla Schuit- MPH, RD, LDN

There are a lot of food trends out there, some we have discussed together. One big trend is bone broth. So what is this all about? Is it worth it? Should you be drinking bone broth?

I think it first important to define what is broth vs stock. This is a trivial technicality but good to know.

  • Broth: Technically speaking, broth is any liquid that has had meat cooked in it. Of course, now broth really is a catch-all for any flavored cooking liquid, including broths made by simmering fish, vegetables, or even legumes.
  • Stock: Stock, however, always involves bones, simmered for a long time to extract their gelatin and flavor. The thick, often-gelatinous nature of stocks is only possible when bones are present. Roasting the bones makes for a richer, more deeply colored stock, but it’s not essential to the process.

So what we have been referring to as “bone broth” is truly stock. This is probably how you remember your mom or grandma making soup stock as a kid. Adding some carrots, celery and onion to the pot and maybe some spices. But regardless what we decide to call it, is it as healthy and miraculous as it is marketed to be?

I decided to find out. I grabbed out my Crock Pot (I do not have a large enough stock pot). In went the carcass of a turkey I had roasted, carrots, onion, celery, mushrooms (I know not traditional but full of nutrients and I thought may add a deep, meatier flavor), and spices. Set the knob to high and sat back and waited. A few hours later I pulled out the solids, skimmed the fat and let the stock cool. True to all descriptions it was a gelatinous, rich substance when cooled, when reheated it goes back to the liquid state of broth/stock as we think of it. Why does it gel? Due to the high protein and collagen content it causes the liquid to gel when cooled. But should I drink it daily for touted health benefits? If you believe Brodo Broth company in NYC you can buy a steaming hot cup of this savory liquid instead of your morning coffee for a cool $11.00.

While sipping on your hot, meaty cup of broth you may be consuming a beverage high in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, proteins such as glycine, and proline and a variety of amino acids all readily absorbed by your body. A 1 cup serving of beef bone broth will provide 208 calories, 9g total fat, 3g saturated fat, 17g carbs, 16g protein, 13% of daily iron, 27% of daily Vit C and 9% of daily calcium.

These mineral and protein beverage has been touted to promote digestive health, joint health, detox, healthier immune function, decrease inflammatory conditions, decrease fatty liver, leaky gut, and aid in osteoarthritis.

So should I keep a cup of this at my desk instead of coffee or water? The facts state- eh, sure?? There is no conclusive data showing that drinking broth daily will increase your health and there is no research to substantiate the claims that are being made by companies like EPIC who sell the product. A soup or dish made with your bone broth/stock will add much more flavor and nutrition than if you were to use store bought stock/broth, but will it cure your arthiritis. Most likely not, but improve digestions, possibly! Chicken stock used in chicken noodle soup has been shown to decrease cold times, aid in immune function and digestive health.

The moral of the story is it is always healthier anytime you use real, whole ingredients and make food or ingredients at home. But there is no magic elixir.