Is Bone Broth Actually Good For You?

Bone broth — also known as stock — is made by simmering the bones and connective tissue of animals in water for a long period of time, even extending beyond 24 hours in some cases.

Advocates of bone broth have stated that the soup can heal and provide health benefits such as curing gut problems, giving skin a youthful glow, strengthening the bones, modulating the immune system, and more.

But these claims have been stacked upon a shaky foundation of scientific evidence. Though bone broth is said to be a good source of collagen, gelatin, amino acids, and minerals, whether we effectively absorb them is another matter.

One study from 2018 found that bone broth was actually a much weaker source of amino acids compared to other dietary sources. Certain vitamins and enzymes might be destroyed due to the heat and long cooking period involved.

"Some bone broths highlight their calcium or magnesium content as a benefit but in reality, their contribution may be very low," Allison Webster, of the International Food Information Council Foundation, told Prevention.

The same applies to the protein content of the soup. Though it is present, the amount is not particularly significant. Moreover, it makes no difference for people who already get enough of the nutrient from eating meat.

Nutrition experts are skeptical about those aforementioned benefits as there is not enough research on bone broth to prove them. Also, bone broth alone is not filling enough to be used as a meal replacement. (This is why dietitians advise caution when it comes to associated weight loss diets)

Now, all this is not to mean that there are zero positive effects to highlight. There are studies which have found that chicken soup may be helpful in easing symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection. So it is possible that a broth made from chicken bones could have a similar effect.

Bone broth can also help you stay hydrated by increasing your fluid intake and acting as a good alternative to processed, sugary drinks. Of course, including vegetables in the broth can definitely boost its nutritional profile.

But as of now, there is no evidence to indicate that broth has any particular standout benefit which you cannot find from a variety of other sources. So the ones who perceive it as a superfood with near-magical healing properties are piggybacking on nothing more than anecdotal evidence.

"Bone broth as part of a well-balanced and nutritionally sound diet is probably harmless, but it is not some type of 'miracle food source' with the ability to cure a multitude of aches, pains and diseases all by itself," William Percy, an associate professor at the University of South Dakota, told NPR.