The more I learn about the many ways a good broth/stock can improve my health, the more excited I am to share this information with you, as well as the proper way to prepare a stock (your next Monday Mission). Plus, it’s really yummy!
Home vs. Store
Before I even begin sharing the facts, it’s important that you understand we’re not talking Swanson here. The food industry has all but taken the nutrition out of broth by cutting corners and adding…well, additives. Fake food. Here’s an example to prove my point: if you Google search “health benefits chicken stock”, your results are just that. You’ll learn what is in chicken stock that will make you healthy. If you then click on a recommended search “chicken broth nutritional value” you get sites detailing the calories, carbs, fat etcetera in various chicken broths. You get numbers. The food industry loves to slap a number on everything instead of explaining exactly what you’re eating.
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty confused about what to DO with all those numbers. I’m ready for someone to tell me how to make something healthy and then put it in my body. Maybe tell me how it will help me. But don’t make me do math! (The difference between “stock” and “broth”, by the way, isn’t much. They are often used interchangeably, but sometimes “broth” means made from meat and vegetables, while “stock” always includes the bones. From here on out, I’ll use stock, because it’s the bones that make the meal, as you’ll soon learn.)
What do I Get Out of it?
The health benefits are incredible, really. Here are just some of the advantages to preparing homemade stock:
- Boosts immune system
- Aids digestion
- Increases efficiency of protein use
- Provides easily digestible minerals, including calcium
- Can improve symptoms of: joint pain, common cold, peptic ulcers, tuberculosis, diabetes, muscle diseases, infectious diseases, jaundice, cancer, food allergies, colic, maldigestion, inflammatory bowel disease, osteoporosis, pain and inflammation, cramps, muscle spasms, delusions, depression, insomnia, irritability, hyperactivity, anxiety, palpitations, hypertension, high cholesterol, allergies….
(This is starting to feel like a list on a “too-good-to-be-true” supplement infomercial. I’ll stop listing them…but aren’t you amazed?)
What makes it so great?
The components of a healthy stock mostly come from the bones. In a properly prepared stock, the bones are allowed to sit in water with a bit of vinegar for an hour or so before heating. Have you ever done the experiment where you put an egg in vinegar, and after a while the shell gets completely soft? The vinegar, an acid, acts like our stomach acid and breaks down the calcium in the egg shell. In a stock, this calcium and other minerals from the bones are transferred directly to the water (which becomes broth/stock), and therefore into you. The best part is that it’s a more easily assimilated form of all the minerals than many other sources, including your supplements.
Nutrition found in bone stocks:
- Other trace minerals
Happy Feet: Benefits of Gelatin
A good broth/stock will congeal as it cools because of the presence of gelatin, found in cartilage and connective tissue in the bones. The best parts of the animal to include in your stock are heads, feet, knuckles and skin. (That’s why we’re tackling chicken stock, not beef!) Gelatin has a long list of health benefits, including:
- aids digestion, especially of milk, meat, beans and grains
- “protein sparer” – helps our body use the protein from meat most efficiently
- improves treatment of peptic ulcers, tuberculosis, diabetes, muscle diseases, infectious diseases, jaundice and cancer
- treats malnutrition and improves bone density
Short cuts on process equal short on nutrition. Bouillon cubes have no gelatin, and canned broths have no standard that says they have to use the vinegar soak, or even use bones at all. They may impart great flavor and taste (MSGs, anyone?) to your meal, but they won’t aid in digestion nor deliver calcium and minerals to your system. They won’t build immunity against colds, either! The old Jewish grandmother’s chicken soup remedy has real research behind it – and the aid is actually in the fat. Those yellow globules floating in your soup (that I always used to avoid like the plague) carry immunity defense to rival the best over-the-counter pill you can get. “When it is considered that 80% of the immune system lines the gastrointestinal tract, the role of cartilage gains importance, since it can nourish both the gut and the immune system.” Source
Unfortunately, many caged chickens (what you buy in the grocery store) have little gelatin because of their lack of exercise. You can tell if your stock has good gelatin content if it gels after cooling. Mine seems to never do this, so sad, but I think it’s because I have too much water thinning it out. If I boil some water off, I can get it to gel a little. UPDATE: Tested this theory! See the results, plus a whole bunch of healthy stock recipes at the October Fest Carnival of Super Foods.
If you’re interested in more information, please go on to read the excerpts below from two great sources. If you’re interest is piqued and you can’t wait to see an example of how to make a good stock, please come back Monday for your mission (plus a cute picture of “Daughter-in-Pot”)!
Looking for other Food for Thought?
UPDATE 2015 – I’ve gathered all my best knowledge of chicken stock into one handy post: The Encyclopedia of Chicken Stock
Quoted information on Stock
“Stock contains minerals in a form the body can absorb easily-not just calcium but also magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, sulphur and trace minerals. It contains the broken down material from cartilage and tendons–stuff like chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine, now sold as expensive supplements for arthritis and joint pain.” Broth is Beautiful
Everything below is from here:
“Gelatin (broth) can be considered for use in the following conditions: food allergies, dairy maldigestion, colic, bean maldigestion, meat maldigestion, grain maldigestion, hypochlorhydria, hyperacidity (gastroesophageal reflux, gastritis, ulcer, hiatal hernia) inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis), irritable bowel syndrome, leaky gut syndrome, malnutrition, weight loss, muscle wasting, cancer, osteoporosis, calcium deficiency and anemia.”
“Collagen (broth) can be considered for use in the following conditions: poor wound healing, soft tissue injury (including surgery), cartilage and bone injury (including dental degeneration).”
“Glycine (broth) can be considered for use in the following conditions: anemia, fatigue, detoxification, blood sugar dysregulation, muscle wasting, wound healing, pregnancy, infant and childhood growth, asthma, hypochlorhydria, jaundice and liver support.”
“Deficiencies of minerals can be acquired, similar to vitamin deficiencies. Generally there are two ways this can happen, lack of intake in the diet, or lack of absorption in the intestines. Broth can be an excellent remedy for both of these causes of mineral deficiency because it provides easily absorbed extracted minerals, plus promotes healing of the intestinal tract.”
“Calcium (broth) can be considered for use in the following deficiency signs, symptoms and conditions: pain and inflammation, cramps, muscle spasms, delusions, depression, insomnia, irritability, hyperactivity, anxiety, palpitations, hypertension, high cholesterol, allergies, brittle nails, periodontal and dental disease, pica, rickets, osteomalacia, osteoporosis and any situation that creates bone loss such as aging, immobilization, postmenopause, and caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol use.”
“Phosphorus (broth) can be considered for use in the following phosphorus deficiency signs, symptoms and conditions: decreased attention span, fatigue, weakness, muscle weakness, celiac or sprue disease, rickets, osteomalacia, primary hyperparathyroidism and seizures.”
“Magnesium (broth) can be considered for use in the following magnesium deficiency signs, symptoms and conditions: loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, nervousness, anxiety, restlessness, confusion, hyperactivity, insomnia, muscular irritability and weakness, allergies, immunodepression, kidney stones and heart attack.”
“Broth can be thought of as a protein supplement, and a calcium supplement. The chemical ingredients extracted from broth are glycine and proline (collagen/gelatin), calcium and phosphorus (minerals), hyaluronic acid and chondroitin sulfate (GAGs), and other minerals, amino acids and GAGs in smaller amounts.”