Bone Broth: Is It Good for You?
Feb 03, 2020 Kyle Beswick
Hailed as a low-calorie and low-carb miracle food, bone broth has become a trendy nutrition option for many people looking to slim down.
Bone broth is made by stewing animal bones and connective tissue for over 24 hours. The process breaks down collagen in the animal tissue, creating a gelatin layer with more protein and collagen to consume than the typical broth sold in grocery stores.
"For people on liquid diets, bone broth may make them feel like they're getting a little bit more variety, even though it's essentially the same thing"
Some believe this gelatin layer in bone broth provides amino acids that help reduce inflammation and lead to better sleep. Bone broth enthusiasts also claim ingesting collagen improves their joint pain, while alleviating some osteoarthritis symptoms in the knees.
No bones about it
All of this sounds great, but is there scientific proof to back it up?
"There's no evidence that bone broth has greater health benefits than any other broths," says L.J. Amaral, a clinical dietitian in the Samuel Oschin Comprehensive Cancer Institute Patient and Family Support Program. "At the same time, if my patients are consuming it in moderation, then I don't have a problem with it."
L.J. sees cancer patients through various stages of treatment—chemo, radiation, immunotherapy or surgery. Her practice centers around making sure people have adequate nutrition during their treatments and sometimes that means recommending broths.
"I will recommend broths for people who are experiencing electrolyte imbalances, especially after vomiting, diarrhea, or excessive sweating," she says. "For people on liquid diets, bone broth may make them feel like they're getting a little bit more variety, even though it's essentially the same thing as other kinds of broths."
If there are no discernable benefits to bone broth, how did it become so trendy?
L.J. believes the paleo diet's rise to fame is giving bone broth its moment. Also, she sees a potential placebo (inactive or fake) effect.
"There are studies that show how drinking warm liquids does have a positive effect on the body and how we feel," says L.J. "My patients will tell me that they feel better after drinking bone broth, so it could just be the warm liquid."
L.J. also says some people mistake bone broth for a suitable meal replacement.
"Bone broth is not a substantial source of calories and protein," she says. "I would say it's fine to supplement your nutrition with bone broth, but be careful with the sodium."