7 Health Benefits of Bone Broth

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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  • Making Beef bone broth

    Bone broth, often touted as a superfood, is made by simmering animal bones such as chicken, beef or pork along with connective tissue like ligaments or cartilage for 24 hours or more. You can also add an acidic ingredient like lemon or vinegar to help leach out nutrients and create a liquid similar to stock but more nutritious. Many store-bought versions of bone broth are also available.

    The many health benefits that people associate with bone broth are believed to come from nutrients like collagen and amino acids. Bone broth is nutritious—but do the facts stand up to the hype?

  • 1
    Weight Loss
    Young man looking at himself in full-length bathroom mirror

    Some people eat bone broth as part of a weight loss diet, and because it’s usually low in calories, it can be a useful part of dieting to lose weight. It’s also high in protein, which can help you feel full. Homemade bone broth varies by batch, according to the ingredients, so there’s no sound research to back up or disprove weight loss claims. Bone broth can contain essential amino acids, but if it’s made without vegetables, it’s low in vitamins and minerals, so be aware of its nutritional limitations.

  • 2
    Improved Digestion
    Woman at stove making soup or broth

    Bone broth is often considered a digestive aid. People who have IBD, or inflammatory bowel disease, tend to have low levels of some amino acids that can be found in bone broth, including glutamine and glycine, which can help heal the intestines. It may also help reduce inflammation in the gut barrier, which protects the intestines from leaking harmful bacteria into your system and may help the immune response. Bone broth may also reduce LPS (lipopolysaccharides) that are involved in inflammatory bowel disease.

  • 3
    Healthy Joints and Bones
    Couple stretching before exercise

    Stewing bones for bone broth breaks down the collagen in them, creating a gelatin that can be a good source of protein as well as two amino acids, glycine and proline, that can help rebuild collagen, important for musculoskeletal health. The connective tissue in bone broth contains glucosamine and chondroitin, two components of cartilage. There is little data, however, that shows the nutrients from bone broth are any better at strengthening bones than other nutritional foods. Some nutritionists have said that leafy green vegetables are a better source than bone broth of the nutrients that contribute to strong bones and joints.

  • 4
    Better Skin
    Young woman looking at skin in mirror

    Collagen is the most plentiful protein in our bodies, supporting everything from bones to hair to skin. It’s the substance that can keep skin looking plump and healthy. Bone broth contains a lot of collagen but there’s a catch: the body is unlikely to absorb collagen directly. Instead, like everything we eat, it breaks it down and reconfigures the nutrients into a form your body can use. You also need certain amino acids to make collagen. Bone broth, though healthy, is unlikely to directly benefit your skin any more than foods containing protein and vitamin C.

  • 5
    Immune System Booster
    Woman at home on couch eating soup and watching TV

    Bone broth contains several essential amino acids that play a role in the immune system, including arginine, glutamine, and glycine. There is insufficient data to know whether your body can utilize these amino acids directly to boost your immune system. The immune response requires many nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, selenium, and iron, which are not present in bone broth made without vegetables. Your best bet to keep your immune system working well is to make sure your diet is well-rounded, with a minimum of processed foods.

  • 6
    Better Sleep
    Couple lying in bed together asleep

    Research shows the amino acid glycine, present in bone broth, can help improve the quality of sleep in some people. Glycine supports the production of an antioxidant called glutathione, which is involved in many bodily processes. In your brain, glutathione is involved in regulating sleep. Claims that the glycine in bone broth will improve your sleep are not documented, and like all foods, bone broth is broken down and reused by the body; it doesn’t deliver the nutrients you eat directly. Sipping a warm liquid, including bone broth, may help you relax before bedtime however.

  • 7
    Store-Bought vs Homemade Bone Broth
    Couple cooking together and man tasting the soup

    Commercial bone broth may be more consistent in its nutrient levels, but you’ll have to read the label carefully to know what you’re getting. Pay attention to the sodium levels: they can be high in salt. If you make bone broth at home, you know what you’re putting in it, but unless you’re a biochemist, you may not be able to analyze the exact nutrient content. Generally, bone broth is going to be good for you, as long as you use healthy raw ingredients and let it simmer long enough to break down the bones and tissues.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Aug 17
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. Bone Broth: Is It Good for You? Cedars-Sinai. https://www.cedars-sinai.org/blog/bone-broth.html
  2. Drinking Bone Broth – Is it Beneficial or Just a Fad? Center for Nutrition Studies. https://nutritionstudies.org/drinking-bone-broth-is-it-beneficial-or-just-a-fad/
  3. Essential and toxic metals in animal bone broths. US National Library of Medicine.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5533136
  4. Taking Stock: the Health and Hype of Bone Broth. UC San Diego Health. https://health.ucsd.edu/news/features/Pages/20118-09-10-recipes-talking-stock-health-and-hype-of-bone-broth.aspx
  5. Lipopolysaccharide Causes an Increase in Intestinal Tight Junction Permeability in Vitro and in Vivo by Inducing Enterocyte Membrane Expression and Localization of TLR-4 and CD14. US National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3562736/
  6. Bone Broth Unlikely to Provide Reliable Concentrations of Collagen Precursors Compared With Supplemental Sources of Collagen Used in Collagen Research. National Library of Medicine. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29893587/