Last winter’s biggest trend didn’t walk down a runway—it was in a cup. We’re talking about bone broth, naturally. But unlike most fads, this one stuck around for another winter—and you can trust that it’ll be here for many more years to come.
“You can call it paleo if you want to, but people seem to have renewed interest in traditional foods,” says Lauren Slayton M.S.R.D, author of The Little Book of Thin. And, of course, part of the craze is seasonal: Warm bone broth is soothing in cold weather, but not so appealing in July.
But is this trendy food really the healthy powerhouse it’s made out to be? Simply put: Yes.
“Legit bone broth contains nutrients like collagen, protein, and glucosamine,” says Slayton. “It’s made from a few pounds of marrow or soup bones from organic chickens or grass-fed cows and cooked very slowly to maintain all of those nutrients.” Just watch out for the imposters. “Canned broths may contain BPAs or added MSG,” says Slayton. Quality bone broth gelatinizes because of the collagen (protein found in bones, marrow, and ligaments) in it, so be skeptical of any bone broth that’s still liquid when chilled, she says. The best way to guarantee you’re slurping quality bone broth: Make it yourself. (Non-meat eaters can make bone broth with fish bones, Slayton says.)
Before making your bone broth, blanch all of the bones, drain, then roast at 450 degrees until ‘almost too-done,’ instructs Bon Appétit. Then, add the bones—along with pepper, garlic, and onion—to the biggest stockpot you have. Add just enough water to cover your bones, and simmer for as long as possible. (We’re talking anywhere from eight to 24 hours.)
And if you’re still not sold on this soup MVP, its nutritional stats might change your mind.
Ah, the elusive collagen! Since the protein collagen is found in body structures like bones, cartilage, and blood vessels, it’s pretty darn tough to incorporate into our diets. “In addition to maintaining these internal structures, collagen also supports healthy hair and skin,” says Slayton.
Not only does collagen help with hair and skin health, but it also packs the usual benefits of protein, like muscle support. “Protein also helps keep you full,” says Slayton. Protein has a relatively small impact on blood sugar and helps promote feelings of fullness.’
Gelatin, that translucent, jiggly substance that solidifies at the top of your broth, results from the protein collagen that breaks down in your bone broth, says Slayton. Like collagen, this structural protein contains certain amino acids that help support healthy hair, nails, and skin.
This naturally occurring chemical is found in the fluid around our joints, says the U.S. Library of Medicine. “Glucosamine is an important player in maintaining joint cartilage and tissues,” says Slayton. Along with chondroitin sulfate (a chemical found in cartilage), glucosamine is commonly used to promote joint health.