Why is Everyone Talking About Bone Broth?

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(Photo: iStock)

Sipping on green juice is so last week, Womanistas; right now we’re all about knocking back a big glass of warm bone broth.

If you’re in tune to the health and wellness realm, chances are you’ve heard the words “bone broth” being tossed around everywhere you turn. In fact, it’s recently been touted as Gwyneth Paltrow’s new diet obsession, who’s been known to give the mineral-rich soup shout outs on her incredibly popular website, Goop. This hot craze has even triggered a wave of bone broth believers lining up at NYC’s trendiest storefront, Brodo, waiting to get their hands on cups of organic chicken and beef stock running as much as nine dollars per cup.

So what’s all the fuss about? Besides being a delicious culinary staple, now nutritionists have started to promote bone broth for its innumerable health benefits.

“Bone broth’s biggest star is collagen,” explains nutritionist Mari-Chris Savage, MS, RD, LD, ACE-CPT. “Collagen is a protein found in the connective tissues of animals. When this protein is consumed, skin elasticity and cellular regeneration is encouraged, and the effect is younger, fuller looking skin with fewer wrinkles and age spots."

But the benefits of bone broth go far beyond skin-deep. “Bone broth contains two of the best supplements available for joint health, chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine,” Savage adds. “It contains a powerful compound, butyric acid, which is produced by intestinal bacteria and plays a vital role in intestinal permeability. By maintaining the gut barrier integrity, risk for other diseases such as fatty liver or autoimmune diseases is decreased.”

Others have even praised this superfood for its pound-melting abilities; due to its satisfying, filling nature, many advocates say its an effective way to drop inches from their waistlines.

While the obsession might be new, broths and stocks have actually been a part of many cultures' culinary traditions for centuries, used in everything from Vietnamese pho to American chicken noodle soup. The fad is a testament to more people becoming aware of the healing powers and wisdom of age-old food traditions, in addition to the prehistoric mentality of utilizing the entire animal and not just the muscle meat.

You might be wondering how bone broth is any different from the beef or chicken stock you’ve been consuming your whole life, and the answer is simple: time. A simple chicken or beef stock is simmered over heat for 3 to 4 hours, while bone broth is gently cooked for 12 to 24 hours longer to allow the bones to dissolve in the liquid. 

If you’re curious to give it a try, you don’t have to wait in long lines to get your hands on a steamy cup of bone broth. Savage says it’s actually quite simple to make at home yourself and recommends using a slow cooker so you won’t have to worry about leaving the stove on for so many hours. “Throw in any herbs and veggies that you like. I personally like to use chicken bones and simmer with lemon juice, onions, carrots, celery, thyme, and a touch of ginger,” Savage says. “Buy a rotisserie chicken (organic and pasture raised if possible) on Monday for dinner and then use the bones after dinner to simmer overnight for broth on Tuesday.”