The Benefits of Bone Broth from a Nutritional and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Perspective
Whether it is referred to as bouillon, stock, consommé, soup or bone broth, consumption of this hot, steaming cup of goodness seems to be growing exponentially. Bone broth outlets are popping up all over the United States. Bone broth is offered as a menu item in restaurants, cafés are selling hot broth by the cup, grocery chains are stocking the shelves with countless varieties and the number of online stores offering fresh or packaged broth delivered to your door is increasing daily.
A question you may have asked yourself is, does consuming bone broth actually have some merit or is it all over inflated hype?
A Brief Overview of Bone Broth
Historically, bone broth has been considered to be a healing food. It is consumed in many traditional cultures across the United States, Europe and Asia.
The Chinese have been ingesting and prescribing it as a remedy for centuries. In TCM terms, bone broth is said to nourish the Kidneys, Liver, Lungs and Spleen. It promotes growth and development, strengthens the tendons and bones, maintains vital essence (Qi), warms the yang, supports the digestive system and builds blood. It is also considered by many to be an elixir, particularly beneficial in its ability to boost the body’s defenses (Wei Qi) and help reduce the duration of the common cold.
What makes Bone Broth Special?
Bone Broth is purported to help improve joint function, modulate the immune system, help wounds heal faster, as well as provide electrolyte replacement after exercise. The broth is considered to consist of collagen, which breaks down into amino acids (proteins).
Proteins are used by the body in a myriad of ways and play a role in movement, structural support, communication between cells, digestion and the transport of substances, such as oxygen, around the body.
Bone broth is believed to contain minerals such as calcium, silicon, magnesium, potassium, sulfur and phosphorus. Broth is also high in glucosamine and proline. The marrow in particular, is believed to contain omega 3 fatty acids, which are anti-inflammatory in nature and also understood to help in the development of the brain
Unfortunately, there is little scientific evidence to confirm the benefits of a cup of broth. It is not a “miracle” or “superfood” but it is well balanced nutritionally and if prepared properly, delicious.
Mary’s Bone Broth Recipe
2-3 lbs. of beef, chicken or pork bones (grass-fed, organic whenever possible)
1 carrot, chopped
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 medium onion (optional)
1 garlic clove (optional)
1-2 bay leaves
2 tbs of apple cider vinegar
1 tbs of peppercorns
Place the bones, vegetables, apple cider vinegar, bay leaves and peppercorn in a 6- quart slow cooker. Add enough water to cover all of the ingredients. Cook on low.
The cooking process can range anywhere from 12 to 48 hours. A shorter time frame is said to produce a broth with a high amino acid profile (protein content) and a longer time frame helps break the bones down, release nutrients and minerals, produce nutrient rich collagen, gelatin and glucosamine.
Cooking time will depend on your own preferences and palate but if cooking in a slow cooker, a minimum of 12 hours is considered essential.
When the broth is ready, pour it through a mesh strainer and discard the solids.
The broth can be ladled out immediately, seasoned and enjoyed. It can be added to soups, consumed alone, used when sautéing vegetables, making risotto and so forth.
Sometimes the broth can be quite greasy. Storing it in a container in the fridge or freezer can assist in separating the fat layer. This layer can be scraped off prior to use.
Don’t be alarmed if the broth is gelatinous. Properly made broth becomes gelatinous from the collagen in the bones.