Bone Broth 101, Gut Health
The Best Bone Broth Has These 3 Things
Real bone broth is truly a labor of love.
In order to make the best bone broth with the most nutrients, you need at least 10 hours on hand, a large stockpot, Crock-Pot or pressure cooker, high-quality ingredients and bones from organic chicken or grass-fed, pasture-raised beef. It should be thick and gelatinous when cold and taste like home when warm.
When made correctly, a good bone broth is a whole food that can be the best dietary tool for supporting gut health, boosting the immune system, easing inflammation and improving your hair, skin and nails due to its high collagen and mineral content. Regular doses of this healing elixir can even detoxify your liver, support joint health, boost your metabolism and reduce cellulite, among other health benefits. What’s not to love?
While making bone broth at home is probably the best way to know what you’re getting, it isn’t always an option. For starters, it can be difficult to source the best grass-fed bones. It’s also extremely time consuming, as you need to simmer the broth for a minimum of 10 hours. Then there’s the draining and storage step. While bone broth freezes well, you’ll need lots of freezer-safe containers to store it.
Luckily, there are now lots of brands, like Kettle & Fire, that provide quality bone broth without the hassle. But not all bone broths on the shelf are created equal. Many have ingredients your body doesn’t need or are made in an unsustainable way.
Here’s what to look for when scanning the shelves for a good bone broth at the grocery store.
What to Look for In Store-Bought Bone Broth (To make sure you’re buying the best bone broth you can find)
1) Quality Ingredients
In order to get the most nutrition from bone broth, it needs to be made with the best ingredients. That means organic vegetables, herbs and spices, as well as pastured, grass-fed beef bones for beef broth or organic chicken for chicken broth.
Pasture-raised animals are more nutritious than conventionally raised animals because they live a more natural life and eat a diet of grass. When animals are fed grains, they contract diseases that then have to be treated with antibiotics. Additionally, pastured animals are not raised under stressful conditions, which keeps the stress hormone in check. They also help break down the nutrients in grass that are hard for our bodies to absorb.
Conventionally raised animal products are likely to contain higher amounts of toxins and lower amounts of gelatin, since they have lower muscle mass than pasture-raised animals that are allowed to roam and graze.
2) Long Simmer Time
The best bone broths takes a very long time to make — but not too long.
To make good broth that’s rich in flavor and high in protein, it should simmer over a low heat for at least 10 hours or more. This process breaks down the bones, tendons and ligaments that are otherwise hard for your body to digest and ensures that the collagen, minerals, amino acids and healing compounds, such as hyaluronic acid and glycosaminoglycans, get released from the bones and make their way into your broth.
Many companies that do this process, like Kettle & Fire, will list how long they simmer their bones on their website or packaging. If you find a product that doesn’t list the time anywhere, be wary. That could mean they use high-heat cooking other other methods to speed up the process, which does not yield the most nutritious product.
However, there’s a caveat. Simmering bones too long can lose their flavor and break down the collagen. The vegetables of the broth can also overcook and the nutrients can escape through the steam.
3) Variety of Ingredients
Good bone broth uses not just bones but a variety of animal parts, including ligaments, tendons, chicken feet and all. These are the parts that typically have the most gelatin, which gives the best bone broth its gelatin-like consistency.
A high quality bone broth should also list an acid such as apple cider vinegar or acetic acid on the label. This helps extract all the minerals (such as phosphorus and magnesium) from the bones during the slow simmer time, so that your body can easily absorb them.
What to Avoid When Buying Bone Broth
1) Additives and Fake Flavorings
Many commercially prepared bone broths (which should really be called stock) try to take shortcuts when making their product and use quicker, harsher cooking methods to cook the bones, which makes for less flavorful broths. As a result, they have to use additives like MSG, artificial colors and protein flavor enhancers to covered up for what’s missing. No only do these do nothing for your health, they make it confusing to know what you’re actually eating.
Some of the top-selling bone broth powder products in 2017 tested positive for chemical additives, heavy metals and other carcinogens. Other liquid broths have been found to contain yeast extract or lactic acid. While neither of these are synthetically derived, some people are sensitive to yeast.
2) Added Sodium
While salt is a necessary ingredient for flavor — especially if you’re sipping bone broth straight — it’s better to control your own sodium intake at home. Broths with added sodium don’t do much for the flavor and might have more than you actually need.
The top selling brands of bone broth have between 280 to 420 milligrams of sodium per serving, so it’s always important to check the label. Kettle & Fire’s Beef Bone Broth has just 200 milligrams of sodium per serving, making it one of the best options on the shelf.
How to get more bone broth
If you have the time to make it and love cooking, your best bet is to make your own bone broth. It’s much easier than you may think to make your own bone broth, and the long simmer process makes your house smell wonderful, too!
If you’re looking for a convenient, high quality bone broth that you can make in minutes, Kettle & Fire is your best option. Ours is one of the only brands that offers shelf-stable, long-simmer bone broth from grass-fed beef bones and organic chicken. We simmer our chicken bone broth for over 10 hours, while our beef broth is cooked for more than 20 hours. The chicken broth also contains 10 grams of protein per serving. Our packaging is recyclable, to boot.
Kettle & Fire Bone Broths can be found at most Whole Foods stores across the country or purchased directly through our website.
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