Subscribe to receive exclusive news, workouts, giveaways and more!

The Scoop on Bone Broth

Bone broth—the savory, animal fat–rich stock that has every follower of the Paleo diet scrambling for carcasses and a big pot—is the latest concoction vying to become the next green juice. Made by slow boiling animal bones with herbs, spices and vegetables, it is packed with nutrients and flavor, but is far from a modern creation.

“This is the exact same way people have been making stock forever,” says Stephanie Middleberg, a registered dietitian and founder of the health-and-wellness practice Middleberg Nutrition. “It’s just now being made—and positioned—as a dish instead of an ingredient.”

That doesn’t necessarily mean you should dismiss it as a passing fad. Broth’s cure-all reputation stems from how nutritious it can be. It is an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, chondroitin (a significant component of cartilage), glucosamine (good for joint health and inflammation), glutamine and various amino acids known to heal the gut (which ultimately helps with nutrient absorption)—all of which adds up to a near perfect food for expecting women.

“Knowing the exact nutrient numbers of bone stock is very tough because it really depends on the type of bone, where and how [the animal] was raised and what it was fed,” says Middleberg. “But what we do know is that it is full of nutrients and is extremely nurturing and soothing, which for pregnant woman is the Holy Grail, especially for those who can’t stomach real food, especially proteins and vegetables, in the early months.”

Homemade Hints

While bone-broth outlets might not become as ubiquitous as juice places, they are popping up. (Brodo, in New York’s East Village, is a takeout window helmed by chef Marco Canora of the restaurant Hearth, and offers three types of gluten-free, dairy-free broths.)

But if you want to make it yourself, there are a few things to keep in mind. Choose from beef, bison, lamb, poultry or fish bones, but Middleberg recommends using pasture-raised poultry, wild fish or grass-fed beef bones for a higher-quality final product. Vegetables and spices add flavor. A classic French mirepoix (a trio of carrots, onions, and celery) works well and herbs like thyme, bay leaf and whole peppercorns can be added toward the end of the cooking process.

Middleberg notes that the more bones you have the longer the broth should cook—a move that maximizes the amount of collagen and minerals in the end product. (Store it in the refrigerator for up to three days; freeze it for two to three months.)

And while vegetarian versions are an option, you won’t get quite as much bang for your nutritional buck with a meat-free stock.

“Unfortunately the benefits really come from the bones of animals,” says Middleberg. “Vegetables are a great addition, such as bone broth carrot soup or bone broth with cauliflower and turmeric, and vegetable soup and broth is extremely nutritious on its own. But without the bones it isn’t as powerful on the immune and gut-support fronts.”

Add your comments