Skip to main content
Live Well. Eat Well.

Do You Boil Your Bones?

It's an ancient tradition, but over the past few months, boiling animal bones has become a health craze. Speculated to provide health benefits such as healthier skin and hair, improved anxiety/mood levels, decreased joint pain, reduced inflammation arthritis, and better overall digestive health, it seems everyone wants to try this new food trend.

So, the obvious question exists: what is bone broth, anyway? It's exactly what it sounds like: broth made by boiling poultry, beef or fish bones until they break down. They can be boiled for as little as four hours or as long as two days. It's easy enough to make at home in a soup pot or slow cooker. Also added to this can be vegetables and herbs/spices for flavor. Think of it as a homemade vegetable soup…with bone juices in it!

Why so nutritious? Well, in broad nutrition terms, this food provides hydration and a serving of vegetables with no added sodium or preservatives. But why the bones are so thought to be so beneficial is because when they are boiled long enough, they start to disintegrate and release nutrients and proteins -- like calcium phosphate and collagen -- in higher quantities than what's found in regular broths, or most food, for that matter. These nutrients support bone, joint and skin health.

While the reported benefits are good ones -- almost no clinical research as been conducted on bone broth, so the staying power of this "super food" may not be as strong as other health trends such as kale or quinoa. However, that doesn't hinder the consumer world from supporting this timely food trend. In fact, some restaurants have even been created to specialize in retailing this simple culinary delight.

Nonetheless, it is a trend right now. And if nothing else, it certainly serves a good purpose as a warm soup on a cold, wintry night here in the Midwest.

Here is a recipe from our very own University of Illinois Extension to get you started on your own batch of broth!