How to Make Your Own Bone Broth for Better Health

How to Make Your Own Bone Broth for Better Health

Bone broth—a soup-like liquid created by slow-simmering animal bones in water—is thought to be associated with many health benefits. What does the science say?

Bone broth is a soup-like liquid created by slowly simmering animal bones (usually from cows or chickens) in water, often along with an assortment of vegetables and herbs and spices (Hawkins & Durham, 2018). The idea of giving broths like this to people who have a cold or a similar sickness goes back centuries (Rosner, 1980). However, only recently has this pretty commonplace idea that broths are healthy and can promote recovery from illness been studied scientifically (Hawkins & Durham, 2018).

A broth becomes bone broth as the bones in it begin to dissolve; the marrow of the bones then enters the broth itself, infusing it with nutrients (Haluk et al., 2018). For example, bones contain collagen, a protein which is commonly used as a supplement to improve the health of our skin (Alcock et al., 2019). In addition to being nutritious, bone broth also adds flavor to foods, so it is used as the base of many soups as well as other dishes (Haluk et al., 2018).

“We eat only to survive, forgetting that healthy eating is the key to survival.”
― John Joclebs Bassey

Why Is Bone Broth Good for You?

Bone broth is good for you because animal bones, particularly from cows, are full of nutrition (Ma et al., 2023). It is thought that ingesting these elements protects our own bone health, both promoting healthy bones and preventing the onset of osteoporosis. While animal bones are used in a surprisingly high number of foods (I’m looking at you, marshmallows and graham crackers), bone broth seems to be one use for animal bones in which much of the nutritional value of the bones themselves is retained. Careful simmering of animal bones—not too hot and not too fast—can induce the most transfer of those nutrients into the food you’ll be eating (Ma et al., 2023).

Bone broth may be good for you because collagen, the main protein generated by simmering animal bones in water, is good for you. While research suggests that bone broth is not as effective in providing extra collagen as a collagen supplement is, it remains a healthy and delicious way to add collagen, with all its skin-protecting properties, to your diet (Alcock et al., 2019).

Although the research is not always there to prove these claims, many people consume bone broth because they expect it to positively influence their digestive and immune systems (Hsu et al., 2017). However, other uses, such as to protect against the onset and intensity of migraines, have been established for bone broth (Peterson et al., 2020), and it is generally accepted that consuming bone broth has the potential to activate anti-inflammatory processes in the body (Hawkins & Durham, 2018), such as decreasing inflammation in the nasal pathways in somebody with a cold (Rennard et al., 2000). This has led others to suggest that bone broth may be helpful for psychological conditions that involve inflammation as well (Monro et al., 2013), although these hypotheses have received only minimal testing.

Researchers have also established that it is generally safe to consume bone broth. There was some concern that if the animals from which bone broth is derived were consuming lots of unhealthy things, such as toxic metals, this could make it unsafe for humans to use bone broth in their cooking. However, research suggests that the levels of unhealthy minerals and metals in bone broth are well below the acceptable thresholds set by regulatory agencies (Hsu et al., 2017).

How to Make Your Own Bone Broth

While you may be able to find bone broth in your local supermarket, it is easy and more reliable to make it in your own home. (In fact, many restaurants make their own bone broth rather than trying to purchase it wholesale from distributors.) Here are the steps for making your own bone broth.

First of all, you will need animal bones. This is often either bones from a cow or the carcass of a chicken, such as a whole roast chicken that you would purchase intact from the grocery store. You will want to make sure that any beef bones you use have the marrow inside the bones intact, as this is where many of the nutrients come from.

Most recipes call for the inclusion of vegetables as well as animal bones in the bone broth. Commonly used vegetables include celery, carrots, garlic, and onions. (For the garlic and onions, it’s actually best to leave the peels on.) People often add spices, such as bay leaves and thyme, to their bone broth as well

Place all your ingredients in a large pot or slow cooker filled with water. Simmer the whole mixture for at least six hours, but preferably much longer. Chicken bone broth does not need to cook for as long as beef bone broth does. If possible, you will want to have this simmering process go as long as 36 hours in order to glean the maximum benefit from the bones. During simmering, some fat may rise to the surface of the broth; you can remove this. When you are done simmering, strain the bone broth to remove all the solid foods you placed in it. Let it cool, then store it in the refrigerator or freezer. If you refrigerate it, use it soon—within a week or two. If you freeze it, it should last several months.

In Sum

It is important to note that bone broth is not an appropriate substitute for eating a balanced diet; more specifically, other animal products may offer an even better concentration of certain nutrients than bone broth does (Shaw & Flynn, 2019). Nonetheless, bone broth has the potential to positively impact your health in a number of ways.

References

● Alcock, R. D., Shaw, G. C., & Burke, L. M. (2019). Bone broth unlikely to provide reliable concentrations of collagen precursors compared with supplemental sources of collagen used in collagen research. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, 29(3), 265–272.

● Haluk, E., Yeliz, K., & Orhan, Ö. (2018). Production of bone broth powder with spray drying using three different carrier agents. Korean Journal for Food Science of Animal Resources, 38(6), 1273.

● Hawkins, J. L., & Durham, P. L. (2018). Enriched chicken bone broth as a dietary supplement reduces nociception and sensitization associated with prolonged jaw opening. Journal of Oral & Facial Pain and Headache, 32(2), 208–215.

● Hsu, D. J., Lee, C. W., Tsai, W. C., & Chien, Y. C. (2017). Essential and toxic metals in animal bone broths. Food & Nutrition Research, 61(1), 1347478.

● Ma, C., Tian, X., Li, Y., Guo, J., Wang, X., Chen, S., . . . & Wang, W. (2023). Using high-temperature cooking for different times for bone soup: physicochemical properties, protein oxidation and nutritional value. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis, 105467.

● Monro, J. A., Leon, R., & Puri, B. K. (2013). The risk of lead contamination in bone broth diets. Medical Hypotheses, 80(4), 389–390.

● Peterson, O. J., Cornelison, L. E., & Durham, P. L. (2020). Neuroprotective effect of enriched chicken bone broth as a dietary supplement in a model of migraine mediated by early life stress. Journal of Medicinal Food, 23(12), 1259–1265.

● Rennard, B. O., Ertl, R. F., Gossman, G. L., Robbins, R. A., & Rennard, S. I. (2000). Chicken soup inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis in vitro. Chest, 118(4), 1150–1157.

● Rosner, F. (1980). Therapeutic efficacy of chicken soup. Chest, 78(4), 672–674.

● Shaw, M. H., & Flynn, N. E. (2019). Amino acid content of beef, chicken and turkey bone broth. Journal of Undergraduate Chemistry Research, 18(4), 15