The amazing health benefits of bone broth
The incredible nutrients in broth benefit your immune system, joints, hormones, heart, skin – and so much more!
What could be simpler than combining a few basic ingredients in a pot to slowly simmer while you relax on the couch, or head out for the day? Before long, a delicious aroma will fill the house, and you’ll be one bowl closer to the benefits of a centuries-old health tonic.
Whether drank steaming from the mug; used as a base for soups, stews or risottos; or frozen as stock, there are plenty of reasons for regularly cooking up a supply of bone broth. Namely, the minerals, amino acids and proteins in bone broth are proven to reduce inflammation, which can eventually cause various illnesses.
What is inflammation?
Inflammation is basically an overactive response to something, or a collection of things, that makes your body’s immune system unhappy. This can make you feel low in energy and restless. When there is less sun in the colder months, for example, inflammation is more likely to occur. This is because your body is working overtime, and is also producing less sun-formed vitamin D.
Inflammation is also more likely to happen in times of stress, when raised levels of the stress hormone cortisol make your immune system work an awful lot harder.
The various nutritious and delicious elements of bone broth helps to increase not only low levels of vitamins and minerals, but also amino acids and collagen, which are really important to help your body rest and repair.
“You can buy a range of organic bone broths from reputable sources”
If that has tempted you into brewing a bone broth, you will be pleased to know that it is very simple indeed. For example, if you want to cook two pints of stock you need between 2-6 of bones/shells (for example, chicken bones, beef knuckles, or seafood shells), plus four pints of water. Then you can pick and choose from whatever herbs, spices and vegetables are in season or are your preferred taste.
Simmer this combination of ingredients for 30 minutes minimum, or leave cooking on a low heat for a few hours, topping up the liquid levels if necessary. Then once done, use in your recipes or freeze in batches.
Be a bone collector
If you live near a market, ask the vendors at the meat or fish stands to save a selection of bones for you – like your very own broth lucky dip! If not, you will find the basic ingredients that you need at most supermarkets.
But you don’t even need to make your own – you can buy different flavors of organic bone broths from trusted places such as Wholefoods.
What is it about these basic ingredients that, when combined, are so good for your health? Well, this is mainly down to the cooking process of the bone broth itself. Boiling bones makes the ligaments, cartilage and marrow break down into various compounds. These healthy components mix with the water, herbs and other plant-based ingredients to create a tasty, health-affirming stock.
Your full-body boost
You can get as weird and wonderful as you like with the recipes or additions you use for bone broth. Broth is the root ingredient of many popular dishes, including, soups, casseroles, sauces and risotto.
Add whatever you feel like on the day – oriental veg and noodles, lentils or quinoa, mixed beans, shrimp, or just leftovers from the day before! You can even use your broth for poaching fish or eggs. Or, simply enjoy it as a hot drink, perhaps with some fresh ginger, shredded chicken or diced chili.
“The cooking process of bone broth is widely responsible for its effective health benefits”
So, we’ve established that a bowl of broth will help reduce inflammation due to its range of antioxidants and nutrients. What’s more, there are particular recipes that benefit specific elements of your wellbeing. For example, if your joints have been feeling a bit stiff, a hearty meat-based stock could help with that.
When it’s humid or cold outside, it tends to make your joints a bit creakier and worsen conditions such as osteoporosis or arthritis – all the more reason to get cooking!
A bowl full of goodness
Joint health is very much linked to the quality of the collagen in your ligaments and tendons. Collagen is actually a collection of “biomolecules” which include things called “glycosaminoglycans” that keep your joints feeling supple.
In addition to collagen, bone broths contain plenty of calcium and magnesium, which your bones need to repair properly. If you don’t have enough of these minerals in your diet, your body will automatically switch to nutrient reserves that are stored in your bones, which in turn weakens them and could even lead to osteoporosis.
“Believe it or not, a bowl of broth can act as a nourishing beauty treatment”
As well as being high in muscle-healing magnesium, particular broths such as those from shellfish and fish, and those rich in vegetables, are also high in omega-3s. These healthy fats are good for your heart, lowering your cholesterol and keeping your arteries clear. Omega-3s are also great for brain health!
Beauty in the bones
From your knee joints up to your brain, bone broth’s benefits continue. Research has shown that eating foods containing gelatin before you go to sleep helps to improve the quality of your rest. This is because of gelatin’s amino acid glycine. It also reduces tiredness and improves your memory the next day. Gelatin is a main component of bone broth, particularly broth made from ham hocks.
Believe it or not, a bowl of bone broth can act as a nourishing beauty treatment. If your skin and nails look dull, bone broth nutrients can top up your levels and get you glowing again. Choose a bone broth that contains a lot of essential fatty acids – such as chicken or fish – because fatty acids increase skin strength and elasticity, and it nourishes your hair and nails too.
You can’t beat a bowl of broth
Whether you want to improve a specific aspect of your health, or simply enjoy a delicious bowl of goodness, set aside a few moments to leave a pot of bone broth simmering on your stove. Now you know the vast benefits of this tasty tonic, you will never throw away another bone, fish head or shell again! Here are a couple of recipes to get you started, so go forth and get cooking.
Light chicken broth
2 chicken carcasses, at least 1 lb. each
9.5 c. water
2 trimmed and chopped leeks
3 medium spring onions
2 garlic cloves
1 thumb-size piece each of root ginger and turmeric, peeled and grated
1 tsp red or black peppercorns
Thyme, oregano or bay leaf according to taste
1 bunch parsley
Put all ingredients into a heavy-based pan and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 40-50 mins. Allow to cool slightly and skim off any froth from the surface, then strain, pressing all the juice from the contents. Skim again once it’s been in the fridge overnight. Keeps for up to six days or freezes.
Rich marrow broth
6.5 lbs beef marrowbones
9 1/2 c. water
1/2 c. apple cider vinegar
2 medium red onions, chopped
4 large carrots, roughly chopped
5 celery sticks, roughly chopped
2 leeks, trimmed and chopped
1 bouquet garni
Pinch of paprika or cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 375° F. Spread the bones in a large roasting pan and cook for 45 mins. Drain the fat off into a jug and set aside. Put the bones into a large pan with the water, vinegar, vegetables, herbs and spices and bring to a rolling boil before reducing to a simmer for 24-26 hours, turning off overnight for safety. Skim any debris off the top. Once cool, strain through a fine sieve or cheesecloth. Stores for up to six days or freezes well.
* Recipes from “Broth: Nature’s cure-all for health and nutrition”
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