SOUP IS A UNIVERSAL winter staple. As soon as the weather tips to the colder side, you’ll find me in the kitchen trying to recreate my mum’s or grandma’s various soups — or reheating a Campbell’s if I’m feeling lazy — there’s just something so soul- and body-nourishing about the stuff that can’t be beat. But when it comes to soup, there’s one type that’s reached a level of trendiness you don’t usually associate with the comfort food: Yes, I’m talking about bone broth.
Celebrities from Halle Berry to Kylie Jenner have talked about their obsession with the superfood, which has risen to new levels of popularity in the past decade or so thanks to the general “wellness” movement. But it’s hardly new — in fact, it’s been around for approximately 2,500 years, as a staple of traditional Chinese medicine used to support kidney and digestive health. So why is it that after all these years, everyone is still harping on about bone broth?
According to GoodnessMe nutritionist Malissa Fedele, the bone broth hype is perennial because it’s just a super easy, tasty and convenient way to enjoy a bunch of healthy benefits in one go — bypassing the need to choke down a fistful of assorted vitamin pills each morning.
“Bone broth has been used for centuries, I think we have just re-discovered all the great nutrients and benefits of it so it has become pretty popular,” says Fedele. “It is an easy way to nourish your gut and provide your body with an abundant amount of nutrients in one easy-to-drink warm liquid.”
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What is bone broth?
“Bone broth is a health elixir that’s been enjoyed for its healing properties for centuries,” explains Peta Shulman, CEO and founder of health foods provider GoodnessMe. “It’s made when bones and most often vegetables are simmered super low for hours on end to draw nutrients out of the bones and create a thick and flavourful broth packed with vitamins, minerals and the hero, gelatine … the protein formed when collagen is broken down.”
Any health or beauty aficionado would have heard of the buzzword collagen by now — the protein in the body that provides strength and structure to your hair, skin, bones, muscles and tendons.
“A daily dose of bone broth is an easy way to support collagen production and the body’s natural healing process,” Shulman says, adding that it is part of her personal holistic health treatment for her auto-immune condition.
What does bone broth taste like?
Wondering what it tastes like? Shulman says it’s hearty and comforting, like your favourite savoury soup bases.
“It’s umami-flavoured,” she says. “A perfect hearty blend, just like a beef broth you’re probably used to using in your soups at home. A good bone broth is also quite gelatinous so it’s best described as tea meets miso, just a touch thicker unless you dilute it to be more water-based.”
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What are the benefits of bone broth?
Bone broth aficionados will tell you that it’s basically a cure-all, but like anything in the wellness world, it’s natural to wonder which claims should be taken with a grain of salt. We asked Malissa Fedele, a clinical nutritionist with a Bachelor of Health Science in Nutritional and Dietetic Medicine, to break down the real benefits of bone broth.
“Bone broth is known for fighting inflammation. Many of the amino acids including histidine, glycine and cysteine have shown to be anti-inflammatory,” Fedele explains.
She also notes that it’s good for your digestion: “Bone broth is also great for gut health … gelatine and the amino acids in bone broth help line the mucous membranes in the intestine to support the integrity of the gut.”
“It is an abundant source of nutrients,” she continues. “The slow cooking process releases all the goodness from the bones, veggies, herbs and spices so when you enjoy a sip of your bone broth you are also absorbing these great nutrients which support general health and wellbeing.”
How often should you drink bone broth?
Around a cup of bone broth per day is recommended as ideal for offering health benefits, though you can drink more if you’re really a fan.
“I personally think it is great to have [it] once a day,” says Fedele. “I like to enjoy bone broth either in the morning or as an afternoon warm pick me up.”
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Should I drink bone broth hot or cold?
While you certainly could try to drink your bone broth cold, its natural consistency — thick, due to that miracle ingredient of gelatine — makes it far more pleasant when consumed warm or hot, like most soups.
“I always like to drink mine hot as the gelatinous savoury texture isn’t as palatable cold. It’s so warming and I always find it helps aid digestion,” says Shulman, adding that it’s also “common for people to create their own take on broths by adding things like salt, pepper and turmeric — totally up to you how you brew it.”
What are the negative effects of bone broth?
While Fedele says that there aren’t any negative side effects that she is aware of, everything of course should be enjoyed in moderation. She also notes that it’s important to use organic produce and bones if you decide to cook up your own batch of bone broth.
“As you are slow-cooking them and pulling out all the nutrients from the food you really want to avoid foods that have been pumped with chemicals,” she explains.
How do you make bone broth?
It’s possible to make your own bone broth at home, preferably using organic ingredients for the best health benefits. Fedele shared her simple recipe with us below:
Bone broth ingredients:
- 2 litres of filtered water
- 2 organic carrots
- 1/2 organic celery
- 1 small piece turmeric root
- 2 organic brown onions
- 4 organic garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 kilogram of organic beef bones
- 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
- A pinch of pink salt and black pepper
- 1/4 bunch of organic parsley
- 2 bay leaves
Bone broth method: Place all ingredients into a slow cooker and cook for 24-48 hours on low. Once cooked, strain the liquid and place into jars and refrigerate.
If you don’t own a slow cooker or aren’t the most confident in the kitchen, there are plenty of store-bought bone broth options that save you the time. GoodnessMe sells a wide range of bone broths (with chicken and beef flavours) in both liquid and powdered forms.
If you’re buying bone broth, Fedele recommends “always look for organic, grass-fed, free-range ingredients, this is super important. Also, keep an eye out for any fillers or artificially added ingredients”.
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What type of bone broth is best?
Since the basic rules of bone broth simply include cooking the gelatinous vitamins and minerals out of bones, there are different types that you can have.
“You can get chicken or beef bone broth,” Fedele says. According to her though, “there isn’t too much of a difference between the two. Of course, depending on what you use the amounts of nutrients and collagen will vary and so will the taste but both are beneficial.”