Is bone broth the next super food?

Published by Manila Bulletin on January 20, 2015

When I was a child, my mother and grandmother used to give me soup whenever I’m down with the flu or suffering from stomach upset. Now that I am all grown up and living thousands of miles away from my parents, I still look for soup whenever I’m sick. It always made me feel better. Perhaps it contains nutrients that help my body recover. Or maybe, it simply reminds me of the love and comfort that I felt during my childhood “sickly” years. Either way, soup has always been one of my comfort foods.

20SuperfoodWhat I’ve always thought of as a very common, old simple recipe has recently been gaining much popularity and could possibly be the next superfood that will be the solution to many types of illnesses.

Search the internet and you will find numerous articles on bone broth and its health benefits. The main question is, do these claims have scientific basis or is the public being made to believe something that has not been proven at all?

It is prudent for us consumers to first and foremost obtain all the facts we can get before deciding on whether or not something is beneficial to our health or not, agree?

What then is bone broth and why is it on the verge of dethroning the current antioxidant-rich superfoods from the limelight in the world of wellness?

Bone broth is made by boiling bones from beef, pork, poultry (chicken), or fish for several hours until they breakdown and supposedly release protein and minerals specifically collagen and calcium.

Collagen is a component that keeps the integrity of our skin intact. It’s degradation causes what we all dread—wrinkles! It is also found in our hair, bones, teeth, tendons, cartilage, and serves as connective tissue for the body cells.

Calcium, on the other hand, is commonly associated with bone health but this mineral also plays a big role in keeping the heart and muscles functioning properly.

Bones used in bone broth also contain other minerals like magnesium and iron. This budding superfood has been linked to bone health, increased immunity, digestive health, inflammation, and reduction of joint pain.

Bulalo, anyone?

Knowing all these health benefits, should we start gulping down bowls of bone broth every day? What about the Filipino favorite bulalo soup or bone marrow soup?

Despite the fact that some health practitioners and health enthusiasts claim that they have seen favorable results through their experience in taking bone broth, there are still no clinical or strong scientific evidence that bone broth can actually help cure some illnesses. Until further studies have been conducted, bone broth, as of this very moment, cannot be considered the next superfood.

As for the bulalo soup, delicious it may be, too much and frequent intake will surely clog your arteries causing life-threatening diseases.

In doing my own research, I came across a rare international peer-reviewed journal entitled Bone and Vegetable Broth published in 1934 by R. A. McCance, W. Sheldon, and E.M. Widdowson from the Biochemical and Children’s Departments of King’s College Hospital in London.

Results of their study showed that by chemical standards, bone and vegetable broths have low nutritive value. Nitrogen loss was evident within seven hours of boiling and minerals (calcium, magnesium, iron) were completely lost within one to two hours of boiling at 100 degrees Celsius.

They also concluded that after qualitative analysis, the only protein obtained from the bones was gelatin (from collagen), which does not have much biological value considering that it lacks some essential amino acids (building blocks of protein) which our body cannot produce on its own and therefore need to be derived from the intake of protein-rich sources like beef, pork, poultry, eggs, and fish.

Now, given these facts from the experiences of some health practitioners and this one study that I have found, would I still have bone broth? My answer is yes. Pending further studies to prove these claims, warm bone broth does have practical benefits. It is soothing, enhances satiety, reduces caloric intake, helps in weight loss and keeps us hydrated.

In her interview with The Huffington Post, Registered Dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner, RD, author of The Flexitarian Diet said, “It’s not a miracle cure like some outlets talk about, but still a good-for-you food. It is hydrating, contains veggie and herb anti-inflammatories, and the bones provide collagen, a protein which may help with our own bone, joint, and skin health.”

Bone broths prepared at home are your best option. Remember to read nutrition labels for sodium content when buying commercially prepared broths and soups.