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Bone Broth

Bone broth is considered a superfood among the online wellness community, but what exactly is it, and is it worth all the hype?


Published Oct. 15, 2020. Appears in America's Test Kitchen TV Season 23: Pork Chops and Maple Cake

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What You Need To Know

Once a niche offering found in trendy cafés and touted as a cure-all by wellness bloggers, bone broth has become more mainstream. You can now find boxed versions from brands such as Swanson and College Inn sitting alongside the traditional chicken broths on shelves in the supermarket soup aisle. 

While cooks have been making broth from bones for centuries, the term “bone broth” saw a huge surge in popularity around 2015 at the height of the paleo diet trend (a movement that advocated eating only foods that our prehistoric ancestors would have eaten). After all, what’s more caveman-like than sipping on bone water? However, instead of using it as an ingredient for cooking, it became popular for sipping plain, in the same way you might drink coffee or tea. But if you’re confused about what bone broth is and how it differs from plain old chicken broth, you’re not alone. 

What’s the Difference Between Broth, Stock, and Bone Broth?

Bone broth doesn’t have a monopoly on bones. Both traditional chicken broth and stock are also made using bones. While the distinctions between stock and broth are a bit blurry, chicken broth is typically made with meat, bones, and vegetables, while stock is usually made with a higher proportion of bones and simmered longer to extract the collagen (a structural protein found in bones and connective tissue), which turns to gelatin and thickens the stock slightly. We suspected that bone broth, which is purportedly made with a high proportion of bones, might be a clever marketing term for stock, though some proponents claim that it's simmered even longer than stock so that it has more collagen, which allegedly provides numerous health benefits. But when it comes to product labeling, one thing is clear: Manufacturers are free to call their products whatever they want. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which oversees product labeling, makes no distinction between “broth” and “stock,” and we found in our previous tasting of supermarket chicken broth that manufacturers use these terms interchangeably to refer to the same product. (For simplicity, we’ll refer to regular broth and stock as “stock” throughout this story.) Another point of confusion: The FDA doesn’t regulate the term “bone broth” at all. 

Does Bone Broth Have Health Benefits?

Proponents of bone broth claim that it is a nutritional superfood that can prevent or relieve bone- or skin-related diseases. One brand, Kettle & Fire, claims its co-founder used bone broth to speed his recovery from an ACL injury and that bone broth can improve gut health, make your skin, hair, and nails shine, and even help you sleep better...

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