Bone Broth: The New Bowl of Hope?

Posted On Mar 24, 2015 By Erin Kuh, MBA, RD

Bone Broth: The New Bowl of Hope?

A steaming hot bowl of broth, simmered to nutrition perfection with animal bones for 24 hours. Does it hold healing powers, the ability to diminish joint pain to nil, cure digestive issues, boost immunity, decrease cellulite, and promote overall vitality? Or, is it yet just another hot health trend that doesn’t live up to the illustrious claims?

What is it, and where are bone broth’s origins?

People have been brewing up broths for hundreds of years, if not longer, and there are many different versions. Some include vegetables and the cooking time varies from 24-48 hours, depending on the type of bones used. For this reason, the great variance in cooking methods and ingredients, it’s difficult for researchers to accurately assess the nutritional value of bone broth and test the hypothesized health claims it provides.

It is chockfull of minerals though, leached from the bones during the cooking process. These include calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, chondroitin sulfates, and glucosamine, many of which we Americans don’t get enough of in our normal diet.

Is it worth $4.50/cup?

That’s what connoisseurs in the Big Apple are paying at broth shops. While it definitely won’t hurt you, unlike other health trends like harsh cleanses and detoxes, there’s no definitive answers on exactly how beneficial it is. Proponents of bone broth do emphasize the importance of sourcing bones from organic grass-fed animals, but is that practical?

My take on it

I’ll confess, I have yet to taste bone broth and don’t really care to. If you like bone broth though, it doesn’t matter that no research shows clear benefits; if it helps you feel better, drink away! The placebo effect can be powerful medicine. And even if that’s all bone broth is, keep brothing. Just don’t put all of your health hopes in one bowl.

Bone broth is similar to a few other health trends as of late. Take green juicing, for example. Just like bone broth, there are dozens of health claims behind downing a glass or two of thick green liquid every day. And some of them taste horrible! (I speak from experience and I’ll stick with chewing my vegetables rather than drinking them.) The main benefit might not lie in the actual food, like the broth or green juice, but in the mindset it puts the consumer in.

The health “domino effect”

It’s like the first domino in starting a healthy lifestyle chain. Drinking bone broth or green juice is a conscious act of trying to be healthier, one that propels you to make healthier choices throughout the day, and hopefully your life. If you don’t live in a big city, and you’re opting to make these concoctions at home, this probably means you’re making other food at home and eating out less, which usually means healthier eating.

If it has this sort of influence, it is a mighty powerful bowl of broth, one that has exponential benefits beyond what any research study can measure.

So, whether it’s your daily vitamin, smoothie, green juice, or bowl of bone broth, having one habit that moves you towards making another healthy habit might just be well worth $4.50/day.