LIFESTYLE
04/06/2015 10:26 BST | Updated 04/06/2015 10:59 BST

What Is Bone Broth?: Health Benefits, Concerns And Recipes For The Latest Diet Trend

To some, "bone broth" is just a fancy way of saying "cooking stock". But to others, it's the latest must-have diet staple for a healthy body both inside and out.

One thing's for sure, with actress Shailene Woodley and the clean-eating gurus Jasmine and Melissa Hemsley singing its praises, the broth trend doesn't look set to die down any time soon.

beef stock

What Is Bone Broth?

Bone broth is a liquid made by boiling poultry, beef or fish bones until they break down. Other veg are sometimes added for flavour (more on that later).

Broth is nothing new and has been used as the basis for soups and sauces for centuries. According to healthy living blogger Megan Heimer, throughout out history, the gelatin in bone broth has been used to "heal peptic ulcers, infectious diseases and cancer".

But this ancient medicinal cooking ingredient has had a bit of a makeover of late.

It's now being consumed as a drink, often at breakfast. In New York, chef Marco Canora has even opened a takeout window called Brodo that serves grass-fed bone broth in coffee cups to busy workers.

Health Benefits

Bone broth has become a popular beverage among followers of the Paleo diet.

According to thepaleodiet.com, bone broth contains key nutrients such as collagen, glucosamine, and gelatin that are "relatively non-existent in the modern western diet".

"These nutrients are essential for maintaining a healthy gut," it adds.

"Individuals suffering from digestive problems such as leaky gut, IBS, SIBO, or flora imbalance can aid in their healing by regularly consuming bone broth."

Registered dietician Dawn Jackson Blatner agrees that bone broth has a number of benefits, but she's not exactly calling it the next superfood.

"It's not a miracle cure like some outlets talk about, but still a good-for-you food," she told HuffPost Healthy Living.

"It is hydrating, contains veggie and herb anti-inflammatories and the bones provide collagen, a protein which may help with our own bone, joint and skin health."

Claire Pettitt, a spokesperson from the British Dietetic Association, shares Blatner's scepticism about bone broth.

"It can certainly be good for you if you are having it in place of highly processed foods, and it’s a great way to minimise kitchen waste and add flavour," she tells HuffPost UK Lifestyle.

"But it’s not quite the miracle food it has been made out to be."

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Health Concerns

Pettitt points out that because bone broth recipes vary so much - using different roasting times, boiling times, animal bones and vegetables - the nutritional profile of each broth will be different, meaning the health claims around bone broth are "far from scientifically proven".

"More often than not, the amount of minerals you would consume in a cup of broth would be minimal compared to the recommended intakes," she says.

She adds that a study in 2013 highlighted the risk of lead contamination in bone broth diets as "lead and other heavy metals also dissolve from the bones into the broth".

"Again the amounts in the broth will depend on the source of the bones and the cooking method," she says.

"Although small amounts are unlikely to be harmful for adults, bone broth should not be used as a breast or formula milk replacement in infants."

How To Make Bone Broth

In the video at the top of this article, Melisse Gelula and Alexia Brue, the founders of Well + Good, team up with Marian Cheng, the co-founder of Mimi Cheng's Dumplings, to demonstrate how to make bone broth at home.

Although animal bones and water are all you need to make a simple bone broth, for a super tasty broth you're probably going to need a few more ingredients.

Their recipe uses:

3-4 Ibs beef thigh bone

2 inches ginger root

2-3 whole onions

3-5 scallion bulbs

1/2 cup fresh herbs

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tbsp coconut oil

Sea salt, garlic and celery sticks to taste.

To make the broth simply chop and put all these ingredients in boiling water and simmer for 8-12 hours.