Bone broth remains a trendy health food superstar, and with the arrival of chilly weather, a steaming bowl of broth does have wholesome appeal. It’s also easier than ever to buy pre-made. Packaged versions are everywhere from freezer sections to grab-and-go cases, and you can get it by the cup at hip broth counters or upscale butcher shops. Fans who claim it vastly improves health even suggest drinking broth in the morning instead of coffee or after a workout. Whether or not you go to those extremes, here’s what you need to know.
WHAT IS BONE BROTH?
While the term has a mystical ring, rest assured that “bone broth” is essentially a new name for old-fashioned stock. These are simple, richly flavored liquids made from simmering bones in water, sometimes with aromatics like onion and celery. The long cooking time helps extract bone marrow, a soft, nutritious substance from the animal bones, which contains a high percentage of fat, collagen, amino acids and minerals.
Bone broth first exploded in popularity a couple years ago thanks in part to the rise in popularity of the Paleo lifestyle. The diet’s emphasis on grass-fed meat and homemade, additive-free, unprocessed food makes bone broth a no-brainer. The current passion for rediscovering time-honored superfoods (chia, anyone?) also helped it gain traction.
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WHAT IT DOES
According to some, bone broth can help build immunity, aid digestion, combat inflammation, improve suppleness in the skin and even increase dopamine levels. While the extensive claims have yet to be proven by hard science, proponents have a good point when they conjure up the long history of broth as a healing elixir. Longstanding customs everywhere from China to Italy follow the tradition of giving broth for improved well-being, particularly in connection with the immune system and digestive health. In a study from 2000 that appeared in the medical journal Chest, a mild reduction in inflammation related to respiratory tract infection symptoms was noted in people eating chicken soup.
WHY IT’S WORTH TRYING
Bone broth is extremely easy to make at home, and it freezes well for later use. Plus, by making your own, you can ensure that it’s wholesome and made without additives or extra salt. The benefits gained by drinking bone broth may actually come more from the change in lifestyle created by drinking it regularly. Anyone swapping beverages containing caffeine, sugar or alcohol for comparatively more nutritious broth should experience benefits.
If nothing else, it’s a great way to warm up this fall and winter.