7 health benefits of drinking bone broth and how to make it at-home

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7 health benefits of drinking bone broth and how to make it at-home
Instead of buying store-bought bone broth, which can be high in sodium, make your own at home. Qwart/Getty Images
  • Bone broth is a clear, liquid made from simmering animal bones in water for a hours.
  • Benefits of bone broth include improving skin's appearance and helping with weight loss.
  • To make bone broth, simmer meaty bones with vegetables, spices, and lemon for 4 hours and strain.
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Bone broth is a rich, clear liquid made by simmering animal bones in water for a few hours.

It is used as stock in soups, gravies, and sauces. Additionally, it has also become increasingly popular to drink on its own, says Eleana Kaidanian, RD, CDN, a registered dietitian with the private practice Long Island Nutritionist.

Because it's packed with nutrients, bone broth may offer a variety of potential health benefits, says Lon Ben-Asher, RD, LDN, a nutrition specialist and educator at Pritikin Longevity Center.

However, many of the health claims associated with bone broth lack scientific proof, so further research is needed to determine just how beneficial it is, says Kaidanian.

How to make bone broth

If you're making bone broth, Kaidanian recommends making a large pot and freezing the leftovers for future use. Here are some tips to make your own broth:

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  1. Select meaty bones of any animal like chicken or cow. For maximum health benefits, opt for organic, pasture-raised, wild, or grass-fed meats, says Kaidanian.
  2. Place the bones in a large pot of water and add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Add a few teaspoons of an acidic ingredient like wine, apple cider vinegar, or lemon to it, which helps break down collagen in the bones.
  4. Add vegetables like onions, carrots, and leeks as well as spices like cloves and star anise to the pot, for additional flavor and nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
  5. Let the broth simmer on the stove for three to four hours, occasionally skimming off any foam that rises to the top.
  6. Remove the bones but let the meat and vegetables remain in the broth for a more filling and balanced meal.

If you're in a pinch and don't have time to make your own bone broth, you can buy ready-made versions at most grocery stores. Kaidanian recommends choosing a sodium-free version without any added fats in the form of cream, butter, or oil.

Limiting your consumption of sodium and saturated fat can reduce your risk of heart disease.

Here are seven benefits of bone broth and how much you should be drinking.

1. High in protein

Bone broth is a rich source of amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins, says Ben-Asher.

Related Article Module: How much protein you need in order to lose weight and gain muscle, according to dietitians

One cup of chicken bone broth offers 9 grams of protein, whereas one cup of beef bone broth offers 11 grams of protein.

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And, not all protein is created equal. For example, a 2019 review of both human and animal studies found animal protein is easier to digest and a richer source of essential amino acids compared to plant-based protein. The amino acids in bone broth are therefore easily absorbed by your body to help build muscles, tissues, and bones.

2. Improves hair, skin, and nails

Bone broth also contains collagen, says Kaidanian. Collagen is the main protein in structural and connective tissues like skin, bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Its fibrous structure gives these parts of the body their shape, strength, and elasticity.

The collagen in bone broth can fortify your hair, skin, and nails. For example, a 2019 review found middle-aged to older-aged women who supplemented with collagen for three months saw an improvement in the firmness, elasticity, texture, and hydration of their skin.

In fact, Kaidanian says bone broth may be particularly beneficial for pregnant people, as it can help preserve skin elasticity during pregnancy, while your skin stretches and grows.

3. Protects bones and joints

The collagen in bone broth also protects joints from age-related deterioration. Therefore, bone broth may be beneficial for people with bone and joint conditions such as osteoarthritis, says Ben-Asher.

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In addition, Ben-Asher says bone broth contains calcium, which is a mineral known for maintaining strong bones and preventing bone loss as we age.

4. Helps with digestive issues

Bone broth is a rich source of glutamine, an amino acid that improves digestion and gut health, says Ben-Asher. He says it can be particularly beneficial for people with digestive conditions such as leaky gut syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease.

5. Contains electrolytes

[recirc: insider.com/how-to-get-electrolytes]Bone broth is a rich source of important minerals known as electrolytes, says Ben-Asher. Electrolytes maintain the balance of fluid in your body, stimulate muscle contractions, and transmit nerve signals.

One hundred grams of bone broth contains:

  • Calcium: 91.1 milligrams or 9% of daily value, based on a 2,000 calorie diet (DV)
  • Iron: 4.2 milligrams (23% DV)
  • Magnesium: 36 milligrams (9% DV)
  • Phosphorus: 131 milligrams (13% DV)
  • Potassium: 506 milligrams (14% DV)
  • Copper: 0.3 milligrams (17% DV)
  • Manganese: 0.3 milligrams (17% DV)
  • Selenium: 11.6 micrograms (17% DV)

Bone broth is recommended for people with low electrolyte levels due to diarrhea, vomiting, or excessive sweating, as it can help prevent dehydration and fatigue.

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6. Low-calorie and low-carb food

Bone broth is also low in carbs and calories, with one cup of chicken bone broth containing 40 calories and 0 grams of carbs. This makes it a healthy snack or addition to a meal. Eating foods high in refined carbs or calories increases your risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

Important: Bone broth is compatible with low-carb diets, such as the keto diet or paleo diet.

7. Aids weight loss

If your goal is weight loss, bone broth may also be able to help. Thanks to its protein content, which keeps you fuller for longer, it can help reduce your overall caloric intake, says Ben-Asher. Plus, liquids take up more space in your stomach, creating a sense of fullness despite fewer calories.

In fact, a 2015 review recommends eating a high-protein diet with 1.2 to 1.6 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day to manage your weight. That's about 25 to 30 grams of protein at each meal.

Insider's takeaway

Bone broth is a rich, nutritious food that contains protein, collagen, and minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. It may help improve bone and joint health, promote weight loss, and improve your hair, skin, and nails.

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However, it is best consumed in moderation - about one cup per day, says Ben-Asher. That's because using it as a replacement for other foods means you could be missing out on other key nutrients like fiber or vitamin C, says Kaidanian.

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