If you asked me what the one food is that you should consume more of, I would say that’s bone broth (closely followed by dark leafy greens). The health benefits of a good quality, long-simmered bone broth are immense: rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and other trace minerals along with an array of amino acids to benefit your gut health and good digestion. Without a healthy gut lining, your body will not be able to efficiently digest and absorb vital minerals and nutrients. So even if you are eating nourishing foods, you may not be getting all their benefits. To help heal a damaged gut lining, you need large amounts of easily digestible substances like amino acids, gelatin, glucosamine, fats, vitamins and minerals, all found in good-quality bone broth.
The gelatin helps to support the connective tissue in your body and makes for healthy nails, hair, and skin. Gelatin is a source of protein that helps counter the degeneration of joints, and collagen improves the condition of your skin. Bone broth even contains glucosamine and chondroitin which can help mitigate the deleterious effects of arthritis and joint pain. Bone broth is very high in the amino acids proline and glycine which are vital for healthy connective tissue, digestive health, proper functioning of the nervous system and in wound healing. Glycine aids digestion by helping to regulate the synthesis of bile salts and secretion of gastric acid.
What’s the difference between broth and stock? I looked up an expert answer on this: one of my favorite cookbook authors, Jennifer McGruther (from TheNourishedKitchen.com) explains it beautifully on her site:
“Broth is typically made with meat and can contain a small amount of bones (think of the bones in a fresh whole chicken). Broth is typically simmered for a short period of time (45 minutes to 2 hours). It is very light in flavor, thin in texture and rich in protein.
Stock is typically made with bones and can contain a small amount of meat. Often the bones are roasted before simmering them as this simple technique greatly improves the flavor. Beef stocks, for example, can present a faint acrid flavor if the bones aren’t first roasted. Stock is typically simmered for a moderate amount of time (3 to 4 hours). Stock is a good source of gelatin.
Bone Broth is typically made with bones and can contain a small amount of meat adhering to the bones. As with stock, bones are typically roasted first to improve the flavor of the bone broth. Bone broths are typically simmered for a very long period of time (often for 8 hours, and sometimes in excess of 24 hours), with the purpose being not only to produce gelatin from collagen-rich joints but also to release a small amount of trace minerals from bones. At the end of cooking, the bones should crumble when pressed lightly between your thumb and forefinger.”
To get the full nutritional benefits the broth should be homemade from the bones of the healthiest animals not from stock cubes, which can include a concoction of hydrolyzed protein and emulsifiers. Even the ‘cleanest’ ready-made shop- bought stock or broth will not have the same benefits as homemade bone broth.
Bone broth is an inexpensive thing to make: just save your chicken or turkey bones from the roasted bird and keep them in your freezer if you’re not ready to make bone broth that same day. I also keep a big ziplock bag in my freezer where I collect vegetable scraps that I’ll add to the broth: the ends of carrots and onions, leftover celery, and that last bit of parsley that’s gone limp. You can reduce your kitchen waste and reap the benefits instead. Don’t use any scraps that have become moldy though, or any cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cabbage, Brussel sprouts …) as they can give the broth an unpleasant flavour.