Bone Broth: Is It Really Beneficial?

With Paleo diet becoming mainstream, bone broth, a staple in the diet, is hogging the limelight. Bone broth is made by simmering bones (typically beef, chicken and turkey) with vegetables and seasonings of one’s choice for hours. According to a South American saying, bone broth is such a miracle food that it can even “resurrect the dead”.

Sorry to burst your bubble. This food fad is not backed by science.


If anything, it’s just a folk medicine in its purported health benefits–ranging from battling indigestion and bronchitis to improving immunity and bone strength. Most of these “health claims” are supported only by experiences of bone-broth lovers. Whatever limited study done on the broth has found bone broth to be of no great nutritional value. The protein in it is mainly gelatine (which is not of superior quality) and they contain only small amounts of starch and sugar.1

Even ayurveda does not attribute any special benefits to bone broth and recommends only meat, separated from bones, for consumption. Curejoy expert Dr Janardhana Hebbar of EasyAyurveda quotes famous ayurvedic text book for food recipes Bhava Prakasha and says preparations recommended in ayurveda–shuddha mamsa (pure meat) and mamsarasa (meat soup)–suggest the meat be separated from bones. (Reference: Bhavaprakasha, Purvakhanda, Krutanna Varga, 69 – 71). Though ayurveda believes that “similar foods increase similar elements in the body”, this rule is applicable only to meat or meat soup to improve muscle tissue and strength and not bones.


It May Help With Weight Loss

Can the essential amino acid L-glutamine in it help you in your weight loss mission? Well, that could just be the only silver lining here.  A study published in the European Journal Of Clinical Nutrition2 studied the effect of glutamine on non-dieting obese humans. The study concluded that the amino acid reduced body weight greatly even without any change in the diet or physical activity of the subjects. Moreover, an animal study, too, has found this amino acid to aid weight loss.3

But hey, bone broth has no side effects; it’s filling and it is tasty. It is also a good supplement to an otherwise complete diet and there is absolutely no harm in having it.


And it is easy to up its nutrition quotient in a few easy ways so you have a tasty, healthy bowl on the dinner table. Here are a few ways you can make bone broth to work for you:

Time The Broth Right

[pullquote]Have the broth just before meals to feel full for longer[/pullquote]

Bone broth can keep you feeling full for longer. Research has already proven that consuming soup before a meal gives us a sense of satiation leading to lower calorie intake in the meal that follows.4


Chicken Soup, Not Just Broth

[pullquote]Have chicken soup instead of broth to alleviate nasal blocks[/pullquote]

Chicken soup is not just for the soul, claims a 1978 study published in the journal Chest, which found that sipping hot chicken soup clears the nasal passage.5 The study measured nasal mucus velocity in 15 healthy subjects before and 5 minutes and 30 minutes after drinking hot water, cold water and hot chicken soup. It was found that hot chicken soup had the most effect on increasing the nasal mucus velocity. A 1998 article in Coping With Asthma and Allergies6 claims that good old chicken soup restores the body’s natural defences against allergies and respiratory problems like asthma. It improves the function of the microscopic cellular strands in the nose called cilia, which prevent contagions from entering the body.

Chicken Breast To Bring Down Inflammation

[pullquote]Add chicken breast to the broth to make it anti inflammatory[/pullquote]

When we fall sick, the body sends signals to neutrophils or white blood cells, which migrate to the region and cause inflammation and other such symptoms aggravating the condition. According to a 2000 study, published in the journal Chest, chicken soup helps slow down or block the movement and activity of neutrophils, thereby reducing inflammation in the body.7 This was supported by a 2012 study published in the American Journal of Therapeutics which said that a compound called carnosine in soup could help inhibit the proinflammatory conditions typically seen in the initial stages of viral infections.8 Carnosine is mostly present in the muscles (especially breast and wings) and not the bones of the chicken.9


Bone broth alone may not offer a lot of health benefits. But there are ways to make it healthier. You can add your favorite veggies to the broth or whip up some interesting sauce to go with it.

And there is nothing wrong in indulging in it just for its taste.