If someone forced me to choose only one food I could have for the rest of my life, I think it would be bone broth. Why? Because if it’s made with veggies and herbs I would be getting most of the nutrients I need, including those that support my gut, bones, joints and skin. The older I get, the more I want to nourish these parts of my body.
Fortunately, there’s no gun to my head and I can still load up on all the fiber and other things that provide what bone broth can’t offer. But it’s rare that my kitchen isn’t well stocked with homemade broth because I consider it to be one of the most important arsenals I have for maintaining good health.
Here are seven of many reasons I love it so:
1. When you make bone broth from good bones, plenty of veggies, and herbs it is rich in key minerals and vitamins.
Bones contain calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and other trace minerals – the same minerals needed to build and strengthen your own bones.
The connective tissue and cartilage on the bones provide glucosamine and chondroitin, natural compounds that are known to support joint health.
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Marrow provides vitamin A, vitamin K2, minerals like zinc, iron, boron, manganese, and selenium, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
The nutritional value of bone broth varies from batch to batch based on the ingredients added and how long the pot simmered. In the case of bone broth, generally more is more.
2. Bone broth supports the joints and builds healthy skin, hair, and nails.
Bones and especially the connective tissue on the bones, contain a hefty amount of collagen. During the cooking process, collagen is broken down into another protein called gelatin.
Gelatin contains important amino acids called proline and glycine, which your body uses to build its own connective tissue, hair, nails, and skin.
Bone broth also contains glucosamine and chondroitin, natural compounds found in cartilage, which can help decrease joint pain and lessen the symptoms of osteoarthritis.
3. The amino acid glycine, found in bone broth, may help improve sleep and brain function.
Multiple studies have found that glycine supports healthy sleep, as well as improves mental function and memory.
Drinking bone broth could have similar benefits.
4. Bone broth may benefit the digestive system and support healing.
Glutamine, an amino acid found in gelatin, has been shown to protect and heal the muscosal lining of the digestive tract in rats. It’s thought to have the same effect in humans.
Many people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome and other inflammatory bowel diseases have felt relief once they’ve included bone broth in their daily diet.
Moreover, bone broth is easy to digest while still offering key nutrients found in foods harder to digest. This is why chicken soup has been the folk remedy for colds and flus. The body gets nourishment without demanding that energy going towards healing be redirected to the business of digestion.
5. It may help fight inflammation.
The amino acids found in bone broth, including glycine and arginine, have strong anti-inflammatory effects.
Arginine may be especially beneficial for fighting chronic inflammation.
6. Bone broth can support weight loss.
Bone broth is low in calories but high in protein. Protein helps improve appetite control and supports lean muscle mass. Both these factors can lead to weight loss.
7. It is delicious and makes all recipes more flavorful and satisfying.
When you replace water with bone broth, you not only improve the nutritional value of your meal, you’ll be making it more tasty too. Next time you cook grains, legumes, or make a soup, try it and you’ll see! You’re welcome.
Where to get bones
Never toss bones! You can store bones from your meal in your freezer until you’re ready to turn them into magic.
If you don’t typically cook whole chickens or bone-in meat, you can find bones at your local butcher, farm market, or at most grocery stores. You can often find chicken backs, necks and wing tips packaged for making broth. You may also find good marrow bones from beef and lamb. They’re usually very inexpensive to purchase.
Do your best to find animals raised in pastures and fed a diet that is natural for them. The labels should say “pasture raised” or “grass-fed”. These animals will be the healthiest and therefore provide maximum health benefits to you.
How to store it
You can keep broth in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. If you haven’t used it up by then, freeze it in batch sizes that suit your needs. In my house, the problem is usually not enough supply to keep up with the demand, so sometimes I’ll make a huge batch and most of it goes straight into the freezer.
How to Make Your Own Bone Broth
- 2-3 lbs bony chicken parts, and giblets if you have them (raw wings, backs, and necks are great, but often I just use the carcass from a roast chicken)
- 2 carrots
- 2 celery ribs
- bunch parsley
- 2 medium onions quartered, skin on for beautiful golden color
- 4+ garlic cloves crushed with skin on
- 2 bay leaves
- 10+ peppercorns
- 1-2 T vinegar (this helps pull the minerals out of the bones, making a significantly more nutritious broth, but you will not be able to taste it)
- 2+ quarts water
- sweet potatoes with skin on (great source of Vit A) optional
- a piece of kombu (for iodine) optional
- any other herbs you like, juniper berries, etc optional
- Put all ingredients in a stockpot, cover with lid and bring just to a boil.
- Reduce to a low simmer, occasionally skimming any foam that accumulates on top.
- I often leave this running overnight, sometimes longer – the longer the better, but at least 4-5 hours.
- Cool enough to handle, pass through a cheesecloth-lined strainer, add salt to taste. (If you have a dog or cat, feed them the meat and cartilage and carrots. NOT the onion, garlic or bones. They will love you for it!!)
- I make a large batch every couple weeks and freeze in quart jars. Use for soups, for cooking grains, for the joint elixir, etc.
- NOTE: You can also use a pressure cooker, which yields amazing results. Cook on high pressure for 2 hours.
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