Is Bone Broth Good For You?

A Dietitian Explains

Bone broth in a cooking pan

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Bone broth has become trendy in the health and wellness world. People are cooking it up at home and grocery store shelves are lined with different varieties and flavors. While there is limited research on bone broth itself, evidence is strong to suggest that consuming bone broth is packed with a number of health benefits.

Bone broth is made by simmering bones and connective tissue of animals in water for a long period of time. Bones and connective tissues can be used from almost any animal including pork, beef, turkey, lamb, bison, venison, chicken, and fish.

Simmering the broth is a very simple process that involves water, animal bones, vinegar, salt, and pepper to taste that is simmered for 12 to 24 hours. You can also add vegetables, herbs, and spices for flavor. This slow-cooking process brings out all of the important nutrients stored in the bones for you to then consume in liquid form.

The Verdict

Bone broth is good for you due to its rich content of vitamins and minerals and its role in improving digestion and fighting inflammation. There is no straightforward recommendation for how often you should have bone broth, but some research suggests one cup a day for maximum health benefits.

Bone broth is an excellent source of protein with a number of health benefits. Try bone broth if you are looking to boost your concentration of vitamins and minerals, strengthen your joints, decrease inflammation, and heal digestive issues.

Bone Broth: Nutrition Facts

One cup (240 grams) of bone broth contains:

  • Calories: 80
  • Fat: 0.5 grams
  • Protein: 10 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 5 grams
  • Iron: 2% RDA
  • Sodium: 19% RDA

Bone broth is an excellent source of protein with a moderate number of calories per serving. Bone broth is not a significant source of fat and carbohydrates.

Potential Health Benefits of Bone Broth

Bone broth is simple to make and easy to find in stores as well if you don't want to go through the hassle of simmering stock. It is versatile and can be easily added to a number of dishes, including soups, stews, or even drunk on its own. Adding a cup of bone broth to your diet may provide a number of important health benefits.

Contains Many Important Vitamins and Minerals

Bone broth is extremely rich in different nutrients, but the nutrient content depends on what ingredients are in the broth as well as how long the broth is simmered. The longer the broth is simmered, the more nutrients are leached from the bones into the broth.

Animal bones are a great source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and other trace minerals. These are the same minerals needed for you to build and strengthen your own bones, ligaments, and tendons. If the bone broth is made from fish, it will also be an excellent source of iodine, which is important for thyroid function and metabolism.

Additionally, bone marrow is high in vitamin A, vitamin K2, and minerals such as iron, zinc, boron, selenium, and manganese. All animal parts also contain collagen, which turns into gelatin when cooked and releases essential amino acids into the water. As the bone broth is simmered, all of these nutrients are leached into the water in a form that your body can very easily absorb. Since many individuals don't get enough of these nutrients in their diets, bone broth is an easy and efficient way to get more nutrients.

May Help Fight Inflammation

We already know that bone broth is rich in essential amino acids that are the building blocks of protein. Amino acids glycine and arginine in particular are known to have powerful anti-inflammatory effects. In one study, oral arginine was given to mice with asthma, resulting in reduced airway inflammation and improvement in symptoms.

Chronic inflammation can contribute to a number of chronic diseases, including heart disease, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, arthritis, and different types of cancers. Therefore, incorporating bone broth into a diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains may help fight inflammation.

May Improve Digestive System Function

Researchers have found that the key to digestive health in bone broth comes from gelatin. The gelatin in bone broth attracts and holds onto liquid, which can help food move through your digestive tract more easily.

Glutamine, an amino acid found in gelatin, helps maintain the integrity of the intestinal wall and may protect against and heal a condition called "leaky gut". "Leaky gut" occurs when substances that aren't supposed to leak into your bloodstream do, which can cause inflammation and other uncomfortable digestive system problems. Consuming bone broth may be beneficial for those with inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, and other digestive issues.

May Improve Joint Health

Collagen in bones, tendons, and ligaments is broken down into gelatin during the simmering process. Gelatin is rich a source of amino acids that support joint health. Proline and glycine are used in your body to build its own connective tissue. It is helpful to consume these amino acids from outside sources when endogenous sources, or what is made in your body, isn't enough.

Additionally, many studies have found that glucosamine and chondroitin, found in bone broth and naturally found in cartilage, can improve joint pain and symptoms associated with osteoarthritis.

May Improve Sleep and Brain Function

There is a lot of research on the amino acid glycine and its role in sleep and relaxation. Many studies have found that taking glycine before bed improved quality of sleep and helps people fall asleep faster. Studies also show that glycine improved mental function and memory during waking hours. Because bone broth contains glycine, it could have benefits for sleep and memory.

Potential Risks of Bone Broth

Overall, bone broth contains a number of important health benefits. However, be sure to look out for some potential risks. Bone broth may contain heavy metals that are found in bones of animals. Most bone broths made by commercial manufacturing companies are tested and found to have minimal levels of toxic metals.

Further, some individuals experience adverse effects to glutamate, such as anxiety, restlessness, and concentration problems, though there is not scientific evidence to prove this. Because bone broth is made from meat or fish, it is not suitable for vegetarians or vegans.

When Should You Eat Bone Broth?

Bone broth can be consumed at any time of day. You can eat it in a soup or stew for lunch or dinner or mix into savory oats for breakfast. You can also sip on it hot throughout the day or as a snack, though not everyone likes its mouthfeel and texture plain. Some people like to drink it before bed for its calming and relaxing effects.

How Much Bone Broth Should You Eat?

There is no known limit for consuming bone broth. Anecdotally, some people recommend one cup a day for maximum health benefits. Be mindful of the other nutrients and proteins you are including in your diet. Bone broth, particularly when not made at home, may also contain high levels of sodium, so you will want to be mindful of how the bone broth fits into your daily consumption of salt.

How To Incorporate Bone Broth Into Your Diet?

Bone broth can be a tasty and simple way to incorporate more nutrition into your diet. Here are some easy ways to enjoy it:

  • Cook rice or quinoa in bone broth
  • Use bone broth as a base for soups and stews
  • Cook oats in bone broth to make savory oats and top with a fried egg
  • Sip on a cup of bone broth before bed
  • Add bone broth to risotto and pasta water

Alternatives to Bone Broth

If you're not a fan of bone broth, you may be able to reap some similar benefits from these alternatives.

Gelatin Powder

Since the main benefit of bone broth comes from gelatin, you can use gelatin powder to consume the same amino acids found in bone broth. Use gelatin powder to make desserts like gummies and puddings or add to soups and sauces.

Hydrolyzed Collagen Powder

You can also consume collagen in powder form if you don't want to drink the broth. Add collagen powder to smoothies, oatmeal, and baked goods.

Foods Rich in Collagen

There are some foods that are rich in collagen or contain compounds and nutrients that boost collagen production in the body. Foods rich in collagen include egg whites, leafy greens, and citrus fruits.

Vegetarian Broth

It is difficult to exactly mimic bone broth for vegetarians as animal bones contain the highest amount of nutrients that aren't found in vegetable foods. However, the closest you can come is broth made with seaweed. Seaweed contains high concentrations of proline and glycine, two important amino acids found in collagen.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How do you make bone broth?

    Bone broth is simple to make at home. You need 1 gallon of water, 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, 2-4 pounds of animal bones, and salt and pepper to taste. You can also add other vegetables, herbs, and spices for flavor. Place all ingredients into a large pot or slow cooker and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 12-24 hours. The longer you allow everything to cook, the more nutritious it will be and the better it will taste. Let the broth cool, strain through a colander to discard the solids, and store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. You can also freeze it to make it last longer.

  • Does bone broth have collagen?

    Bone broth does contain collagen. Collagen is the main protein found in bones, ligaments, and tendons. When bone broth is cooked, collagen is broken down in the water to produce gelatin. Gelatin contains proline and glycine used to build human connective tissue.

  • Does bone broth have protein?

    Bone broth contains 10 grams of protein in a one cup serving. As collagen is broken down into gelatin in the cooking process, it releases its amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein.

  • Is bone broth the same as chicken broth?

    Bone broth and chicken broth are not the same. Bone broth is typically made from beef bones and therefore contains much more collagen, electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals. Chicken broth is good for cooking and milder in flavor, but it does not give you the same nutrition as bone broth.

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Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Rebecca Jaspan, MPH, RD, CDN, CDCES
Rebecca Jaspan is a registered dietitian specializing in anorexia, binge eating disorder, and bulimia, as well as disordered eating and orthorexia.