Bone broth, a concoction prepared by simmering bones of fish, chicken or lamb on a slow flame, is an age-old elixir. The cartilage and bone break down and release a collagen-rich gelatin to create a nutritious brew.

“When you cook bones in water for a long period of time, your goal is to extract gelatin from the bones and to release nutritious compounds, including glucosamine, amino acids, electrolytes and calcium, into the broth. If you cook bones for up to an hour, you have a light, flavourful soup. If you cook for 2-3 hours, you have a heavier, nutrient dense potion: a broth,” says Sarika Nair, dietitian and founder of SlimnHappy, a diet and lifestyle consultancy in Mumbai.

Bone broth can be a welcome dietary inclusion in winter. Nutritionist Purwa Duggal, head of nutrition, Fortis Hospital, Mulund, Mumbai, says it “boosts immunity, which helps fight the common cold and cough that we fall prey to when the temperature dips. The broth is rich in collagen that protects our bones and joints, especially during winter. The gelatin helps to improve our gut health”.

It is, in fact, one of the best sources of natural collagen, derived from the protein found in the bones, skin, cartilage, ligaments, tendons and bone marrow of vertebrae animals. “The broth contains glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), complex carbohydrates found in bones and connective tissue that help improve flexibility and reduce niggling joint aches and pains,” says Nair. Hyaluronic acid, one of the several GAGs found in bone broth, is commonly given as an oral supplement to osteoarthritis sufferers and injected into arthritic knee joints to reduce pain and increase mobility.

Shilpi Madan for Mint

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