Bone broth - What it is, the health benefits and recipes

Bone broth, definition, health benefits and recipes
Image via pixabay.

Bone broth has once again been increasingly gaining popularity over the years to the point that it's very popular now. This is pretty interesting since bone broth has been used by our ancestors for so many years. Most modern man don't utilize the bones, neck, feet and so on whereas people in the Caribbean would do so, just check the ingredients for dishes like souse and pepper pot and you will see. As someone who studied Biology, I have come across in my study that carnivorous animals would break the bones just to get the marrow and will eat whatever bone they can manage to eat. On the whole meat and fish eating animals prefer the bones (such as dogs).

There are many health benefits associated with consuming bone broth that one just simply can't ignore (me for sure).  Bone broth is abundantly rich in nutrients that are beneficial to the body. Which means that our ancestors, carnivorous animals and the people who are eating it are getting these nutrients whereas whoever is not is missing out.

What is bone broth?

When you hear the words bone broth, what comes to mind?

Bone is the main ingredient of bone broth and so most of the nutrients are going to come from it. So firstly what does a bone composed of?

A bone is composed mainly of:

  • bone marrow
  • cartilage
  • collagen (found in cartilage and bone marrow also)

Often times people will ask what is bone broth? Bone broth is essentially broth that is made from bones.The bones that bone broth can be made from are chicken, beef, lamb, turkey, poultry, fish bones or whatever bones you can find. This broth can be made more tasty and nutritious with the addition of herbs, spices, and even vegetables.

When you boil the bones in water for hours, the nutrients in the bones, cartilage, bone marrow and collagen leaches out into the water. You strain it and the end result is a nutritious broth.

Health Benefits of bone broth

As already stated above bone broth is abundantly rich in nutrients that are beneficial to the body. So what are these nutrients?

Bone broth nutritional composition (Not all will be listed below)

- calcium
- phosphorus
- magnesium
- sulphur
- glucosamine
- chondroitin
- zinc
- copper
- iron
- potassium
- fluorine
- sulfate

- Will also depend on whatever veggies you're using

- collagen (the amino acids that make it up)
- plus additional amino acids (depend on the bones used). 
A few examples are:
- serine
- valine
- leucine

- bone marrow

Health benefits

Amino acids

Glycine, proline, glutamine, and alanine are the most abundant amino acids found in bone broth. These are non-essential amino acids which simply means that the body can produce them. In other words, this usually means that you don't have to consume them. But did you know that you may have to consume it regardless of that statement? So why I may need to consume foods that are rich in them? You may need to consume foods that are rich in them because:

- of certain illnesses or nutrient deficiencies
- poor digestive health among other reasons

Bottom line: the body is not able to produce enough or none under certain circumstances and so we need to consume them in foods.

Other amino acids that are found in bone broth are:
- valine
- serine
- tyrosine, etc.


The protein collagen is made up of amino acids (amino acids makes a protein). Collagen is abundant in the amino acids:

  1. proline
  2. glycine
  3. hydroxyproline

The bones and cartilage are two examples of places where collagen can be found. The conversion of collagen to gelatin happens when you cook the collagen containing bones and cartilage. So, therefore, your bone broth is going to give you collagen in the form of gelatin and thus you're consuming collagen in the form of gelatin.

What does collagen do?

Collagen is vital for a healthy youth full looking skin. That is skin that is firm and wrinkle free. It's also necessary for healthy hair and nails- collagen makes up the hair and nails. Collagen holds the whole body together that is it acts as a glue and renews skin cells (in other words it replaces dead skin cells).

As we age we would start to see the onset of wrinkles and fine lines, etc. What happens is collagen production decreases with age particularly around 40. When this happens the skin starts to get wrinkles, fine lines and saggy whereas the hair and nails become brittle.
Age isn't the only factor that decreases collagen production. Tobacco smoking and the sun can also decrease collagen production.
So, therefore, it is important to consume collagen in your diet.

Gelatin lines the gut and improves IBS, leaky gut syndrome, food allergies, etc. It also thickens the digestive juices in the stomach resulting in better digestion.

Leaky gut syndrome arises when the intestines become permeable. When this happens, substances will pass into the bloodstream (think of it like a pot with holes).These substances, however, are substances that the body won't normally allow to pass but because it is permeable these substances will pass. These substances can be substances like undigested food and waste. When this happens the immune system will react by attacking these substances and inflammation will result. This can result in food intolerances, IBS, autoimmune diseases (like Lupus, Crohn's disease, Addison's disease), etc.


The structure of glycine

Glycine is very important to the body as it serves many roles/purposes. Some of these roles/purposes are:
It is:
- use to produce collagen
- vital in the production of some acids like bile acids and nucleic acids
- use to produce heme which is a component in blood
- used by the body to manufacture amino acids
- involved in the production of glucose


Proline is very important to the body as well as it serves many roles/purposes. Some of these roles/purposes are:

- use to produce collagen. Proline is converted to hydroxyproline and hydroxyproline is one of the amino acids that make up collagen.
- it maintains muscle mass
- it is necessary for the functioning of joints and tendons

Kaayla Daniel of the Weston A. Price Foundation has a great article on the essential roles of glycine, proline, and gelatin. You can read this article here.


Bone broth contains minerals that are necessary for healthy bones and teeth. Bones and teeth are important to us. Our bones support our bodies, protect our internal organs, produce blood cells, make movement possible [1], etc. whereas our teeth are used to chew and break up our food into smaller particles (aka mechanical digestion). Minerals like calcium, phosphorous and so on are necessary for strong bones and teeth (and to maintain it) and with strong bones and teeth, you may be able to combat osteoporosis and teeth loss. 

The New York State Department of Health states that:
"Osteoporosis is a silent disease that causes bones to become thin and weak, often resulting in fractures (broken bones) in the U.S., approximately 1 in 2 women and 1 in 4 men over age 50 will break a bone as a result of osteoporosis."
Additionally, periodontal problems can be resolved by consuming traditionally prepared bone broths according to Will Revak of the Healthy Home Economist.

Healthy fats

A bone can either contain yellow marrow or red marrow. The yellow marrow is where fat is stored and hence the yellow bone marrow is mostly fatty and not to mention delicious. The red bone marrow is where red and white blood cells are manufactured.
Bone marrow contains essential fatty acids like omega-3 fatty acid. Omega-3 fatty acid has many health benefits but our bodies can't make this fatty acid and so we need to consume it in foods. One such benefit is that it's necessary for brain function. 

Bone marrow also contains vitamins, minerals, iron, etc. 

Beef bone broth recipe

Beef bone broth recipe
Beef bones. Image via pixabay.


- 2 pounds of beef bones (make sure that some of the bones contain bone marrow and meat)
- 2 carrots chopped
- 2 onions chopped in quarters
- 6 whole cloves of garlic
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- salt to taste/ to your liking
- black pepper to taste
- 1 chili (optional)
- beef seasoning to your liking (optional)
- a handful of coarsely chopped parsley
- water to cover the bones


  1. Wash and wipe the meat and bones (not applicable if you're using left over cooked bones).
  2. If your bones are too large, you can cut them into smaller pieces (very helpful in speeding up the cooking process).
  3. Roast the bones and meat in the oven for about 25 minutes or until they are nice and browned at 450 degrees. 
  4. Place your roast beef bones and meat into a stock pot.
  5. Pour water to cover the bones, add the apple cider vinegar and let it rest for a while. The vinegar will cause nutrients to leach from the bones.
  6. Add the remaining ingredients into the pot and bring to a boil then reduce it and let it simmer on low. Let it cook on low heat for at least 12 to 36 hours.
  7. Remove any frothy layer that rises to the top.
  8. You can add additional water if needed during the cooking process.
  9. Strain the broth at the end of the cooking time through a strainer and discard the bones and vegetables.
  10. Pour the broth into containers and store however desired (refrigerate or freeze).
  11. Remove the layer of fat that has hardened on the top when you're ready to use it.

Chicken bone broth recipe

Chicken foot. Image via pixabay.


- chicken bones, trimmings of chicken, chicken necks and foot


The same steps as the ones used to make beef broth with a few exceptions.

  1. The bones do not need to be roasted.
  2. Cook for 8- 24 hours.
  3. Use chicken seasoning instead of beef seasoning.

Fish bone broth recipe

Fish. Image via pixabay.

Fish. Image via pixabay.


- Fish bones, heads, trimmings of fish and fish


The same steps as the ones used to make beef broth with a few exceptions.

  1. The bones do not need to be roasted.
  2. Cook for 4- 6 hours.
  3. Use fish seasoning instead of beef seasoning.

A combination of different bones bone broth recipe

So with this broth, you can add:


- chicken bones, trimmings of chicken, chicken necks and chicken meat
- fish bones, heads, trimmings of fish and fish
- beef bones (ones that contain bone marrow and meat also)


The same steps as the ones used to make beef broth with a few exceptions.

  1. Only the beef bones are to be roasted.
  2. Use an all purpose seasoning instead.
  3. Cook for 12- 36 hours but add the beef bones at first and then add the chicken bones after the first 8 hours and the fish bones at the last 6 hours.

Additional cooking notes

- Bones, pieces of skin and trimmings of meat and actual meat can be used.

- You can save the bones you have each day and at the end of the week use it to make your broth.

- You can use a combination of 2 or more different kinds of bones or you can use just one. These recipes can be used for other bones as well.

- Uncooked or cooked bones can be used.

- Alternatively, a slow cooker or a pressure cooker can be used to cook bone broth instead of a stock pot. I personally love to use a pressure cooker because it reduces the cooking time by hours.

- The beef broth will have a rich brown color due to the roasting step. Generally, the color will differ also depending on the vegetables and sometimes the seasonings used.

- The nutritional content of one bone broth might differ from another simply because of the ingredients that were used to make each one. There are different types of bones, vegetables, herbs, and spices that can be used to make it and they have different nutritional content, some more than some. So this depends on what the bone broth was made with.

- The bones can be reused for another broth.

Ways to eat bone broth

Bone broth can be eaten by itself. I like to add some green onions on the top along with some pepper.
Bone broth can also be used in cooking. You can add it to soups and so on.

Bone broth isn't hard to prepare, it just takes time! Homemade bone broth is the best tasting in my opinion. Make some today and nourish yourself. 


1. OpenStaxBiology. OpenStax CNX. Jun 16, 2017