Drink Up

Does Bone Broth Have Real Health Benefits?

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Ask Keri: Was bone broth a passing fad, or should I be drinking it for better health?

Keri Says: Stock–essentially broth made by boiling bones from beef, chicken, or turkey—is an ancient healing food. Think of slurping chicken noodle soup when you’re sick.

It became a major fad over the past couple of years, and while I’m not sure that it’s the miracle food people made it out to be (nothing ever is, really!), there are definitely health benefits (and no downsides) to adding it to a well-balanced diet. Here’s why.

The Health Benefits of Bone Broth

Bone broth, made from any animal, is going to be super rich in important minerals like phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium, all of which are great for your health.

RELATED: 5 Healthy Soup Recipes for Warming Winter Meals

The main reason it gets touted as a superfood, however, is because it’s filled with collagen, a structural protein that is the main component of connective tissue and plays an important role in keeping many parts of your body healthy, including bones, skin, organs, and more. Your body makes collagen on its own from specific amino acids you ingest, but as you age it makes less and less (so it may need a boost!).

First, gut health: The lining of your intestinal wall is an important barrier that prevents things that aren’t supposed to get into your bloodstream from getting through. When things get “leaky,” that can cause inflammation. Collagen, it turns out, is an important building block of that wall, so many experts say taking in more of it will help seal your gut, although there isn’t much research showing a direct correlation between drinking bone broth and better gut health or increased immunity. One study from 2000 did find people eating chicken soup experienced “a mild reduction in inflammation” that helped reduce symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection.

RELATED: The Best Fermented Foods for Gut Health

Other potential benefits: In one study on athletes, subjects taking collagen had less fitness-related joint pain than those taking a placebo. Bone broth also happens to be filled with electrolytes, so if you’re a fitness buff, it could be a great post-workout treat. And some research has shown improvements in skin elasticity in women who took collagen supplements compared to those taking a placebo.

A final caveat: your body makes collagen via amino acids, which you can get from many other foods, not just bone broth. But at the end of the day, when it’s cold outside, a steaming cup of broth warms you up from the inside out and is weirdly soul-soothing. Even if that’s the biggest benefit, what’s wrong with that?

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