Bone Broth Benefits: The Truth About the Health Hype
It's not the superfood some claim it to be, but it's not snake oil either
Bone broth may sound like a witch’s brew. And indeed fans believe it can work all sorts of magic in the body, from boosting the immune system to helping skin look younger.
It’s tough to imagine that such a simple soup — basically animal bones cooked in liquid for a long time — can live up to such lofty claims. SafeBee turned to Kristen Gradney, RDN, LDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, to find out which bone broth benefits are legit. Here's what she told us.
The claim: the collagen will help your skin
Collagen, the most abundant protein in the body, is in muscles, bones, skin and connective tissue. It helps joints move smoothly and helps keep skin from sagging. Bone broth aficionados believe the collagen they get from animal bones can benefit them in these ways.
Not necessarily, says Gradney. “There’s been some research that states consumption of collagen can improve the condition of skin, but these are very small studies.” Besides, collagen is not “a stand-alone wonder nutrient for repair and regeneration,” adds Gradney. “You should have a variety of foods high in the antioxidants vitamins E and C and omega-3 fats to aid in production of the skin’s natural oil barrier and zinc, which helps cells grow and repair themselves.”
The claim: Bone broth provides important amino acids and protein
Gradney says bone broth doesn't provide amino acids you can't easily get elsewhere. “We do not need to get amino acids from bone broth. There are many other foods that also contain them, including gelatin.” As for protein, she adds, “research has shown the protein from bones doesn’t dissolve into the broth.”
The claim: Bone broth makes a good post-workout recovery drink
This claim has some credence, says, Gradney. “Bone broth can be used to replace electrolytes after an intense workout. It may even be a better choice than a sports drink, because it has no sugar or additives.”
The claim: Bone broth can boost immunity
Maybe, says Gradney. “There was one study in the journal Chest that cited the benefits of chicken broth for improving respiratory ailments,” she says. “But the types of soups touted to have immune boosting ability have a combination of nutrients from vegetables, the meat and bones of the protein and the broth and salt as fluid and electrolyte replacements.”
The bottom line on bone broth
"There's very little research to show additional benefits of eating bone broth," says Gradney, "but I do think having one [soup] that includes other elements that can contribute to nutritional value is key. For example, recipes that include garlic, turmeric and some vegetables would actually provide anti-inflammatory and immune boosting properties."
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