Forget all about cold-drip coffees and Instagrammable green smoothies; there’s a new beverage on the block that’s capturing hip hearts and tastebuds the world over. And it’s made of… boiled-down animal bones.
Although it’s been around for aeons, bone broth has had a bit of a renaissance lately, thanks in no small part to a bunch of cool New York eateries, famous foodie types like Gwyneth Paltrow and Pete Evans’ controversial children’s cookbook (that features a bone broth recipe experts are furious about).
Gwyneth’s not the only A-lister chugging bone broth; on Monday, actress Shailene Woodley revealed she has it for breakfast during her appearance on The David Letterman Show.
“I’ve been into bone broth for a long time and it’s really cool because now there is this whole Paleo movement and it’s getting a lot of attention,” the 23-year-old Divergent star said. “What I think is beautiful about it is that you’re using the whole animal. You’re not just seeking out that perfect cut of muscle meat.”
Now, we know what you’re thinking: ‘isn’t bone broth just a catchier, more alliterative word for ‘stock’?’
Well, in a way, yes. Bone broth is prepared in a similar way to stock, and certainly looks (and probably tastes) like stock, but evidently there are small differences. Although both liquids are made with meat, bones and vegetables, broth typically contains more seasoning and a higher proportion of bones to meat than stock does. It also involves a longer preparation time.
“A stock is made, I think, between two and five hours and a broth is brewed anywhere from 24 to 36 hours,” Shailene Woodley explained to Letterman.
According to bone broth enthusiasts, the drink can deliver a host of health and even beauty benefits, ranging from improved gut health and digestion to shinier hair. It’s claimed these benefits derive from the various amino acids, nutrients and collagen naturally found in animal bones. Shailene Woodley, for one, claims it’s made a “big difference” to her health. “It’s known to be helpful with leaky gut or irritable bowel syndrome,” she says.
So should we be buying in to the bone broth hype? According to Accredited Practising Dietitian Nicole Senior, the answer is a resounding no.
“If you want to have a nice, tasty, warming broth, then go for it, but don’t expect major health miracles,” she says.
“I think the benefits are overstated. I mean, a broth by its nature doesn’t contain much at all — basically it is flavoured water. I really don’t think it contains enough, really, to substantiate the claims that are being made about it.”
Nutritionist, chef and author Zoe Bingley-Pullin acknowledges there are some elements of bone broth that are beneficial — for example, it contains an amino acid called cysteine that can help to break down mucus, along with good fats. But how much broth is required to deliver these benefits is rarely indicated.
“What I find misrepresentative is that they make these claims, but we have to break down the exact nutrients, the value and amount you need in order to make that claim,” Bingley-Pullin says. She also believes the nutritional value of bone broth is largely determined by the quality of ingredients used to make it.