Why Is Everyone Still So Jazzed About Bone Broth?

Photo: Courtesy of Brodo.
Shailene Woodley once said that bone broth is "the shit." Kobe Bryant used to drink bone broth in his heyday to prevent inflammation. Selma Hayek drinks it to look younger. And — no shocker here — Goop has been pushing bone broth's benefits for a while. So, what exactly is bone broth and why have celebs and health fanatics been so into it the past couple of years?
Bone broth is derived from the parts of an animal that can't be eaten, such as the bones, skin, tendons, ligaments, marrow, and feet, which are usually simmered down for a few days, explains Courtney Dunn, MS, RD, CDN, CNSC, a dietitian/nutritionist in New York City. The process of making bone broth is way more elaborate than emptying a packet of powder in hot water, and so are the health benefits.
From a nutrition perspective, bone broth provides us with minerals like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, Dunn says. "It could possibly boost the immune system and reduce inflammation, but more studies are needed on these claims," she says. Bone broth is also an easy and inexpensive way to increase your protein intake, because it can be sipped like hot tea, she says. Some people drink bone broth after workouts as a protein supplement or to replace their electrolytes, says Mascha Davis, MPH, RDN, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Los Angeles and spokesperson for the American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
But many people are drawn to bone broth for its collagen content, which is a byproduct of the bones, skin, marrow, and feet that go into it, Dunn says. "Collagen is a protein found in our body and acts as the glue that holds us together," she says. It's mainly found in skin, hair, intestines, nails, and joints — but, over time, a person's collagen production declines, which is why many people turn to supplements, she says. According to Davis, collagen could improve your skin's elasticity, keep you hydrated, and decrease joint pain, "which is pretty exciting," she says. Plus, there's some evidence that collagen could positively impact your gut health, Dunn adds.
The question is: Does it taste good?
To find out, I visited the Brodo Broth Co. location in the East Village of NYC, which is a literal hole-in-the-wall next to the restaurant Hearth. They have four main broth options: chicken, beef, Hearth, and seaweed mushroom. You can either get a 10 oz. or 16 oz. cup to go ($7-$10), opt for a 96 oz. jug for groups ($54), or buy the broth frozen and heat it up at home ($19). They offer add-ins, like egg yolk or ghee, or you can choose one of their pre-made concoctions.
I ordered the "What Came First," which is chicken broth, egg yolk, and a warm spice blend. The 16 oz. cup I drank was savory and sweet, creamy yet clear, and filling for a snack. This particular blend was tangy and salty, like chicken, and had an interesting sweet spice that I can't exactly pinpoint, but probably was turmeric or cinnamon. The yolk also made the texture more like steamed milk than tea, so it felt more like a meal — which it should be, for $10. I was a big fan, but I also adore ramen, pho, and any noodles that swim in broth.
TL;DR Obviously, bone broth isn't for everybody — it's pricey if you buy it à la carte, and not everyone's interested in sipping soup like a latte. If you do like it, though, Davis says to keep in mind that it's not a meal replacement and you should make sure that you're also eating other proteins, like chicken or beans, as part of your diet. "There’s really no magic bullet to good health — it’s ultimately a combination of factors," she says.

More from Diet & Nutrition

R29 Original Series