Chicken soup is more than good for the soul. This sick-day staple is not just comforting when we’re on the mend; it’s actually incredibly beneficial for preventing illness and boosting the immune system, as well- when it’s made with one of my favorite immune-boosting staples, bone broth.
Bone broth has been all the rage in the nutrition world, lately, with new broths appearing on store shelves and broth spots popping up in nearly every major city. But as trendy as it may be, bone broth has some serious proven health benefits- for our immune system, joints, gut and more- and you don’t need to hit up the latest hipster brothery and pay $12 a cup to get it. In fact, homemade bone broth is simple- and dirt cheap to make. Check out these awesome health benefits of bone broth- and scroll down for my favorite simple crock-pot recipe.
What is bone broth?
Bone broth has been made for thousands of years, traditionally used as a way to use all the parts of the animal, by simmering bones and extra parts in water for a long period of time to extract the vitamins, minerals and amino acids from the parts. There’s a reason it’s still around today- the nutrients extracted from simmering bones for a long period of time (often 24 hours or longer) have been proven beneficial for the immune system, joints, skin, hair and nails; and gut health.
What is the difference between broth, stock and bone broth?
Nourished Kitchen gives this explanation:
Broth is typically made with meat and can contain a small amount of bones (think of the bones in a fresh whole chicken). Broth is typically simmered for a short period of time (45 minutes to 2 hours). It is very light in flavor, thin in texture and rich in protein.Stock is typically made with bones and can contain a small amount of meat (think of the meat that adheres to a beef neck bone). Often the bones are roasted before simmering them as this simple technique greatly improves the flavor. Beef stocks, for example, can present a faint acrid flavor if the bones aren’t first roasted.
Stock is typically simmered for a moderate amount of time (3 to 4 hours). Stock is a good source of gelatin.Bone Broth is typically made with bones and can contain a small amount of meat adhering to the bones. As with stock, bones are typically roasted first to improve the flavor of the bone broth.
Bone broths are typically simmered for a very long period of time (often for 8 hours, and sometimes in excess of 24 hours), with the purpose being not only to produce gelatin from collagen-rich joints but also to release a small amount of trace minerals from bones. At the end of cooking, the bones should crumble when pressed lightly between your thumb and forefinger. [source]
I typically consider bone broth any liquid made by simmering bones (and usually vegetables and herbs) in water at a low heat for a long period of time.
What are the health benefits of bone broth?
Bone broth has proven to have numerous health benefits, including:
Immune Health: Recent studies have shown a correlation between; chicken soup (bone broth) and anti-inflammatory benefits, especially for upper-respiratory infections, likely due to the amino acids (components of protein) extracted. In addition, the gut-healing benefits also contribute to immune health.
Gut Health: Amino acids abundant in bone broth have proven benefits to gut health; L-Glutamine specifically has been shown to protect against breakdown of the mucosal cells of the gut-lining, improve gut barrier function and increase the gut-immune response. Gelatin and collagen; the most abundant protein in the body, work to heal and seal the gut lining, improving immune function and reducing gut permeability. Gelatin also has proven anti-inflammatory effects.
Joint + Bone Health: Bone broth is one of (if not the) best sources of collagen and gelatin in our food supply. Collagen is the most abundant protein in the body; and a key component of cartilage, acting as building blocks to trigger natural collagen production. Gelatin and minerals in bone broth can help maintenance of strong bones and may improve bone metabolism.
Skin, Hair and Nails: Our skin, hair and nails are made up of collagen, in their most basic form- and abundant amounts of collagen can improve skin elasticity, reduce roughness and studies have even shown anti-wrinkle, anti-aging benefits.
Did I mention it’s also DELICIOUS?! I love a hot mug of bone broth as a warming snack, especially with a few shakes of sea salt and a soft cooked egg thrown in. Add it to your soups, stews and braises, cook meat in it in the slow cooker, or just sip! We make broth nearly every week– the slow cooker is my favorite method. Here’s how easy it is to include bone broth in your family’s diet:
[click image for downloadable version]
Homemade Bone Broth (in the crock pot):
1-2 lb of bones, raw or roasted (I like to roast or slow cook a chicken, remove the bones and add them to the slow cooker with the rest of the ingredients)
2-3 large carrots
2-3 stalks celery
1-2 large onions
bunch of herbs (I like thyme and parsley)
garlic clove or two
1-2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (this helps extract minerals from the bones)
6-8 cups of water
1. Add all ingredients to slow cooker, filling with 6-8 cups of water.
2. Cook on low heat for 12-24 hours. Broth is ready when it’s golden in color and bones crumble when squeezed. Strain, transfer to mason jars and store. Keeps for about 1 week in the fridge, or transfer to bags and store in the freezer.
Note: some fat will form on top of the broth when cooled- you can scrape this off or let it melt in to whatever soup or stew you are making.
What is your favorite use for bone broth? Share with us!