Does Bone Broth Stand Up To The Hype?

It seems like every year, simple fresh whole foods launch some new trend, and a bunch of folks jump on the wagon, and once manufacturers get wind, new products land on the shelves in the blink of an eye. Bone broth is no exception to that marketing craze, but does it have staying power? 

Let's start with the difference between broth and stock. Although they're both made by using meat, skin and bones, stock uses a higher proportion of roasted bones to meat. More importantly, a typical chicken broth takesn 45 minutes to 2 hours of boiling, while stock can take as long as 24 hours to give the collagen time to break down, producing a gelatinous broth when cooled - the trademark of a stock rich with amino acids. 

Properly made bone stock provides plenty of the glycine, proline and other amino acids we need to manufacture our own collagen. Proline and glycine, for example, are key to tensile strength, resilience and the water-retention capacity of healthy collagen. Although both are considered non-essential amino acids, most people cannot manufacture enough, so it's critical to add foods rich in these nutrients such as stock, fish, meat, dairy, soybeans, asparagus, avocados, bamboo shoots, beans, cabbage, spirulina, seaweed, soy, dark leafy greens, cauliflower, pumpkin and cucumber.

One popular belief about the benefits of bone stock is that it helps relieve joint pain. However, having been studied since 1934, stock has yet to reveal that ability. According to Harvard Health, dietary collagen isn't absorbed as is and sent straight to your joints. It’s broken down into amino acids, which serve as building blocks for body tissues in general such as your joints, skin, arteries, and corneas. 

William Percy, an associate professor at the University of South Dakota's Sanford School of Medicine states, "Since we don't absorb collagen whole, the idea that eating collagen somehow promotes bone growth is just wishful thinking.” 

Likewise, once believed to help boost your calcium and magnesium levels, neither home-made nor commercial stock delivers on that promise. According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health stock provides less than a 5% contribution to your daily intake. 

There is good news, however. According to an article in CHEST Journal, chicken soup does indeed help when you’re sick. High-quality chicken stock can clear sinus passage ways, relieve upper respiratory tract infections, and have an anti-inflammatory effect. And you can significantly increase your calcium levels and the anti-inflammatory effects simply by adding herbs, spices, legumes and vegetables to make - you guessed it - soup.

Your skin also scores a win with bone stock which increases skin elasticity. Consumer Lab reports there is a statistically significant boost with a collagen peptide extracted from bone stock and used consistently over a two-month period. 

Of course, it shouldn't be a surprise to learn that the best plan for economically boosting and maintaining collagen formation is to stay away from trans fats, cut your processed sugar intake, stop smoking, use sun protection and eat with the intention to heal

Nutrients That Help Promote Collagen Production 

Vitamin C - Citrus, berries, peppers and dark leafy greens. 

Anthocyanins - Blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and dark skinned plums. 

Manganese - Green tea, pineapple, almonds, brown rice, dried beans and dark leafy greens. 

What's the Best Quality Stock? 

According to Consumer Lab, look for products that list the amount of protein they contain, which should be at least 6-10 grams per cup. Since most products don’t list the amount of collagen they contain, you can calculate it to be somewhere between 40-80% of the total protein listed. 

Consumer Lab top picks are:
1. Ancient Nutrition Bone Broth Protein

2. Jarrow Formulas Beyond Bone Broth Spicy Beef Ramen Flavor

3. Pacific Organic Bone Broth Chicken

4. LonoLife Grass Fed Beef Bone Broth. 

You might also want to check out the rankings provided by the Journal of Renal Nutrition