Bone broth claims to make you look younger — but is it actually healthy?
Bone broth isn’t a new superfood or an overnight fix to dull skin, in fact, experts say people have been drinking it as medicine for decades.
But in the last few years, bone broth has popped up in headlines again, making claims to make your skin look younger or even improve digestive and bone health.
Recently, 51-year-old actress Halle Berry told Extra her secret to beautiful skin was drinking bone broth.
“You can make it, you can go to the butcher and get all the bones they’re going to throw away and he’ll give them to you for free. Take the bones, boil them up for 24 hours… and you drink the broth,” she told the site. “It’s so full of collagen that it’s crazy.”
So what is it?
Bone broth or stock is made from meat and often vegetables.
“It’s also low in calories that makes it already attractive and there’s a trend where people want to consume liquids since they’re easy and portable to consume,’ says registered dietitian Abbey Sharp of Abbey’s Kitchen.
“People are looking to re-purpose ancient medicine [and] have become more socially conscious… sustainability is a huge trend. Making bone broth is a great way to use up all of a food without throwing it out,” she says. She adds many Chinese alternative medicines like ginger, ginseng and matcha have all popped up in the health market in the last couple of decades.
Breaking down one cup of bone broth, depending on the type of meat, should have less than 100 calories and up to six grams of protein.
Bone broth has a lot of sodium (about 343 mg per cup) and 7 mg of calcium.
What about the health claims?
Sharp says there are several health claims attached with bone broth, one of the most popular ones (and the one that really sucks people in) is how it can improve the appearance of your skin.
“[It] contains collagen which is known to improve joint pain and support skin and hair health, however, the collagen consumed in bone broth does not get absorbed and sent to your joints. Instead, it gets broken down into amino acids like other proteins which become building blocks for your tissues,” she explains.
“As a result, we start getting wrinkles, our hair gets thinner and weaker, and our nails aren’t as strong. This is why it’s smart to start adding collagen to your diet as you age — especially once you’re past 30.”
She recommends having one cup of bone broth per day, as well as a collagen supplement or protein powder.
“In plain English, collagen supplementation can make your skin more elastic, more dewy and less wrinkly. It does this by strengthening the collagen matrix in your skin.”
But Sharp says the scientific research on bone broth itself doesn’t show any evidence that drinking it on the daily will help people with aging.
There are also claims it can help with digestion and bone health itself.
“The claim is that the gelatin in bone broth improves digestion, however, no studies have supported this to date,” she adds. “The biggest claim is that it helps to maintain healthy bones due to its calcium content, however, there is very little calcium in bone both… you would need to consume 142 cups of bone broth to reap the benefits.”
But besides being a form of medicine, she can see why it has become popular.
Bone broth is natural, sustainable and for many, comforting. “It’s something that has been done for thousands of years so it may be a cultural component,” she adds. “Combined with other vegetables, it is a great way to get in antioxidants in a low-calorie meal.”
How to make bone broth
She adds the best way to have bone broth is by drinking it or using it to prepare grains like quinoa or brown rice. You can also freeze it in ice cube trays to use it later.
She also recommends making your own:
- Pick your favourite meat (chicken, beef, lamb, pork or other)
- Debone it
- Add your favourite vegetables like onion, carrot or celery
- Add some herbs like parsley or spices
- Place bones in a large stock pot
- Pour water and let it sit for 20 to 30 minutes in cold water
- Add a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
- Chop and add veggies
- Add herbs and spices
- Bring broth to a boil
- Reduce to simmer – check pot occasionally and skim excess foam and keep cooking for eight hours
- Remove pot from heat, strain and let cool before refrigerating
- Store up to five days in fridge and six months in the freezer
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