Think about the last time you cooked a whole chicken or a T-bone steak. What did you do with the bones? If you are like most people, you probably threw them in the trash, sending them off to languish in a landfill.
What if we told you there was a better way? A way to cut down on your food waste, slash your grocery budget, heal your gut, and help your heart.
No, we’re not kidding. Though it might seem too good to be true, bone broth is the underrated star of the health food community. Bone broth often flies under the radar, unlike its flashier, more popular competition for the title “superfood,” such as avocados and leafy greens.
Could the secret to your 100 Year Heart be sitting in your trash can?
Let’s find out.
What is bone broth?
Boil animal bones and connective tissue in liquid for a day with a few other flavor-enhancing ingredients, and you have a delicious, nutritious bone broth to enjoy.
Though it has only started gaining popularity as a mainstream health food recently, bone broth is far from a new concoction. For thousands of years, people ate the entire animal, taking advantage of this yummy stock’s nutrients and health benefits and avoiding the rampant food waste that plagues the modern food industry.
Some people claim that bone broth is just the latest in a long line of “trendy” health foods with no real value.
Science says otherwise.
Plus, it’s easy to make, utilizes bones you would otherwise just throw away, and doesn’t have any side effects. What do you have to lose?
Note: The name is technically misleading, as it is a form of stock, not a broth. Broths are made from boiling meat or veggies, while stock includes bones. However, “bone stock” doesn’t roll off the tongue nearly as well.
For our purposes, we will use the terms broth and stock interchangeably.
Benefits of bone broth for heart health
For years, advocates of bone broth have been touting its incredible, heart-supportive benefits. Now, there are studies available to back up these assertions.
One such study, led by scientist Leticia Mora of Valencia’s Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology, looked at Spanish dry-cured ham bones and their role in heart health.
In the study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers found that when ham bones were cooked for long periods with water, such as in bone broth, the proteins released smaller pieces called peptides, short chains of amino acids.
The scientists wanted to know what role these peptides have on cardiovascular disease-causing enzymes. The results are incredible. They found angiotensin I-converting enzyme (ACE-I), endothelin-converting enzyme (ECE), dipeptidyl peptidase-IV (DPP-IV), and platelet-activating factor-acetylhydrolase (PAF-AH) inhibitory activity.
These enzymes all play a role in heart disease factors such as blood pressure and inflammation. According to the authors, “their inhibition can result in the reduction of high blood pressure and alleviation of disorders, including type 2 diabetes, obesity, atherosclerosis, and inflammatory diseases.”
They also simulated digestion in the lab to ensure that these heart-supportive peptides could survive the trip through the digestive tract. They found that most of the beneficial peptides thrived, increasing their activity after digestion.
Though the results will need to be replicated in a living organism, this is promising scientific headway for the efficacy of bone broth. Overall, this study is a win for bone broth and shows that it really does play a role in a healthy, happy cardiovascular system.
Other benefits of bone broth:
- Eases joint pain: Bone broth is an excellent source of gelatin, which can help soothe joint discomfort and restore range of motion. It could even help alleviate pain associated with osteoarthritis.
- Improves skin health: Making bone broth breaks down collagen into gelatin, which is full of nutrients and amino acids that can contribute to skin and hair health.
- Benefits weight loss: Drinking a mug of bone broth can help keep you full and prevent overeating and snacking that interfere with weight loss.
- Benefits hydration: Broth is essentially nutrient-dense, flavored water. It can help stave off dehydration.
- Aids in gut health: The amino acid glutamine, present in bone broth, has been shown to help ease conditions like leaky gut and ease digestion.
- Fights insomnia and aids in sleep quality: Bone broth contains the amino acid, glycine. Glycine has sleep-promoting properties and could help you get a quality night of rest.
How to make bone broth
Remember, what you eat is only as good as the sum of its parts. You can’t expect to make heart-healthy bone broth out of bones from hormone-laden, grain-fed animals. Always choose organic grass-fed, grass-finished bones and meat.
Making bone broth is incredibly simple, but it does require a lot of hands-off cooking time. Plan ahead if you want to use your broth in a specific recipe.
What kind of bones to use:
The beauty of bone broth is that it is incredibly forgiving and versatile. Virtually any bones from any animal can be cooked down into this exceptional health food. Choose chicken, turkey, lamb, bison, fish, beef, pork — whatever you have on hand.
Use bones with connective tissue such as the neck, spine, joints, feet, and knucklebones to increase the nutrient profile. We also like to use marrow bones, meaty bones, and even entire carcasses such as bones from a whole chicken.
If you don’t have any bones on hand from a recent meal, visit local organic farms and ask if they have any bones for sale. Most people want boneless cuts of meat, so finding bones is easy and affordable. An organic butcher is also a great source. Ask them to cut large bones into smaller pieces so they’ll fit in your stockpot.
Remember, you can always store bones in your freezer, so feel free to stock up. Pun intended.
Step 1: Blanch the bones
Place the bones (about 2-3 lbs) in a large pot and fill with cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce to low, and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Strain the water and rinse the bones.
This step is optional. However, it can help remove the blood and coagulated protein, improving the appearance and flavor of your broth. It is especially important with darker bones like beef.
While balancing, preheat your oven to 425º. Clean your stockpot (you’ll need it later).
Step 2: Roast the bones
Place bones on a lipped roasting tray and cook in the oven for 30-45 minutes until they are nicely browned. If you use bones from meat you previously cooked, this step will be unnecessary. However, if the bones have never been cooked, roasting them helps bring out the flavor and aids in collagen breakdown.
You can roast your bones with veggies such as carrots, celery, and onions, if desired. Some people prefer to add these after roasting. Do whatever works best for you.
Step 3: Add remaining ingredients and soak
If you didn’t add veggies during the roasting process, now is the time. Use whatever you prefer or have on hand. A great way to reduce waste is to save any vegetable scraps for a few weeks, keeping them in a bag in the freezer. When you’re ready to make your bone broth, simply pull the bag out and dump them into your stockpot.
Add the roasted bones, veggies, or scraps (around 4 cups), 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, and any seasonings to your pot.
We love whole peppercorns, salt, and bay leaves for flavor. You can also add cinnamon sticks, star anise, rosemary, sage, or thyme.
Next, simply cover the mixture with filtered water (letting it cover the bones by about an inch), place the lid on top, and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Step 4: Cooking
Bone broth is a “choose your adventure” type of concoction with loose rules that are more like guidelines. The same is true when it comes time to cook it.
You can make it on the stove, in the crockpot, or in an Instant Pot. The method will vary depending on your time, kitchen appliances, and personal preference.
Cover, leaving the lid slightly ajar, and place the pot over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for at least 8-12 hours. If you let it cook for around 24 hours, it will have a better flavor.
For safety reasons, do not leave the stove on overnight. Simply transfer your pot to the fridge and continue cooking the next day. You might need to add a bit more water.
- Instant Pot:
Add ingredients to the Instant Pot (make sure you don’t go past the max fill line) and close the lid. Turn the vent to sealing and cook on low pressure for 3-4 hours. Go with the longer time if you are cooking red meat bones like beef.
After cooking, let the pressure release naturally.
Add ingredients to a slow cooker, cover (leave the lid slightly ajar), and cook for 24-48 hours on low. Red meat bones will need around 48 hours, while chicken bones should only take about 24. Check back periodically to make sure there’s enough liquid to cover the bones.
Step 5: Strain and store
Once cooking is finished, strain the broth through a fine-mesh sieve. Some people prefer thinner, clearer broth and will strain it a second time through a piece of food-grade cheesecloth.
Place the pot in the fridge overnight to let it cool, and then skim the fat from your broth (if desired). The fat can be saved and used in place of oil or butter in other recipes.
Store in the fridge or freezer in freezer-safe mason jars. Your bone broth will stay good in the refrigerator for up to five days or in the freezer for six months.
Step 6: Enjoy!
Use bone broth in place of traditional broth or stock in any recipe. You can also warm up a bowl, add some veggies and salt and pepper (or sip it by itself), and enjoy it as a simple soup.
Though some claim bone broth is simply over-hyped meat water, the proof is in the pudding (or, in this case, the broth). Science is finally catching up with what ancient cultures have known for thousands of years — animal bones have a lot to offer and shouldn’t be thrown away.
Now that you know how easy it is to make bone broth, you’ll never want to use watered-down storebought broth again. Remember, the quality of your bone broth is only as good as the quality of the meat you’re using. Always buy organic, pasture-raised, or grass-finished meat from reputable sources. Your heart, tastebuds, and wallet will thank you for adding this liquid gold to your life.
Eat Well · Live Well · Think Well
Medical Review 2022: Dr. Lauren Lattanza NMD