Bone broth is a common soup base, but in recent years, it has been getting attention as a beverage.
This savory drink is usually enjoyed hot on its own, but it can also be mixed into other beverages. You can find recipes online including everything from bone broth hot chocolate to bone broth cocktails. Bone broth is even handed out at the finish line of some races.
To learn more about this buzzy beverage and its health benefits, we spoke with wellness dietitian Lindsey Wohlford.
What is bone broth?
If you’ve never heard of drinking bone broth, you might be curious whether it is the same as the boxes of broth and stock you can find at the grocery store. Not quite, Wohlford says.
“Bone broth and other broths and stocks found at grocery stores are similar but not the same,” she says.
The biggest differences between bone broth and other broths and stocks are the ingredients and how long they are left to simmer in water before the mixture is strained.
Here’s how Wohlford says animal-based broth, stock and bone broth vary.
Broth is made by simmering water, vegetables, herbs, spices, meat and sometimes bones for up to two hours.
Stock is made by simmering water, vegetables and animal bones that sometimes have meat attached for four to six hours.
Bone broth is made by simmering water, vegetables and roasted bones that sometimes have meat attached for up to 24 hours.
Bone broth is more nutrient- and protein-dense than other broths and stocks due to its longer cook time, Wohlford says.
“The longer cooking time allows for the breakdown and extraction of more nutrients,” she says.
What are the benefits of drinking bone broth?
“The nutritional content of bone broths can vary greatly depending on the recipe and ingredients used,” Wohlford says.
She notes that bone broth often contains collagen, gelatin, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and other minerals, and is a good source of protein.
“Bone broth can benefit anyone looking to increase their protein intake to aid in muscle growth and recovery,” she says.
She notes that most of bone broth’s protein is collagen, the most common protein in the human body. Collagen includes amino acids called glycine and arginine that have shown anti-inflammatory benefits. Additionally, collagen may benefit joint health and wound healing.
On top of that, bone broth offers nutrients that may support bone health, such as calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. It is also a nutritious, hydrating option for cancer patients dealing with side effects such as low appetite, nausea, and sore mouth and throat, Wohlford says.
Bone broth may have additional benefits, but Wohlford says this is still being researched.
“There are many purported benefits of bone broth from reducing inflammation to improving gut health to antiaging; however, research is currently inadequate to support these claims,” she says.
Are there any health risks to drinking bone broth?
“While bone broth can be a nutritious addition to the diet and is generally considered safe to consume, there are some concerns that should be noted,” Wohlford says.
These include the risk of consuming too many heavy metals, which can seep into the broth from the animal bones during the cooking process. To avoid this, Wohlford says to avoid consuming large amounts of bone broth. Instead, stick to the recommended serving of 1 cup, or 8 ounces, of bone broth a day.
Bone broths can also have lots of sodium. If you are on a low-sodium diet, Wohlford suggests making your own bone broth so you have more control over how much sodium you are getting.
Finally, be sure to speak to your doctor before making any changes to your diet, especially if you are undergoing cancer treatment.
“Always discuss your diet or any dietary changes with your physician and registered dietitian. They will advise you on the best things to eat to support your treatment and health,” Wohlford says.
Do any other foods offer the same nutrients as bone broth?
Don't find bone broth appetizing? Good news: Wohlford says there are still plenty of ways to get all of bone broth’s health benefits from other sources.
“Both plant and animal-based protein are excellent sources of protein, and a serving will typically provide more protein than a serving of bone broth,” she says.
If you are after bone broth’s bone health benefits, Wohlford recommends foods such as low-fat milk, cheese, yogurt, plant milks, soy, nuts, canned salmon and leafy greens.
For those interested in eating more antioxidants and phytonutrients, she suggests a diet rich in plant foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes.
“Aim to have at least two-thirds of your plate come from these foods,” Wohlford says.