Bone Broth, Meat Broth, or Collagen. Which is Best?
Bone Broth, Meat Broth, or Collagen. Which is Best?
To keep with the feel-good theme this month let’s talk about bone broth! This nutrient powerhouse ticks all the boxes, it is budget-friendly, easy to make, and can be easily incorporated as a simple step to level up your health game.
Bone and meat broths are liquids used across the ages for their flavour and health benefits. Specifically, the bone broth trend is one that has blown up in recent years much to the delight of naturopaths and clinical nutritionists! What was once old is now new and for a great reason. Creating broth is an easy and inexpensive way to maximise the intake of specific nutrients and level up the flavour profile of your spaghetti, soup, rice and so much more. Just like with every trend, there is a bit of confusion around the difference between bone broth, meat broth, and a pure collagen supplement and which one is the best option depending on your desired outcome. Let’s dive into the health benefits of each option and how they differ.
What Is The Difference?
We should quickly bring attention to the fact that the terms used to describe broths and stocks can be confusing, what we will be calling meat broth in this article is often referred to as “broth” elsewhere and what we are calling bone broth can also be called stock. Just something to keep in mind if you are diving into other articles and research on this topic.
Meat broth is how it sounds, it is made with bones that also have meat attached, a whole chicken in your slow cooker as an example. Meat broth is typically simmered or slow-cooked for a short period of time, 45 minutes to 6 hours depending on the cooking method and desired outcome of the meat. Meat broth is very light in flavor, thin in texture, and rich in gelatin however, due to the low cooking time it is less rich in a more full array of amino acids, collagen, and minerals.
Bone broth is made typically with beef or chicken bones and can contain a small amount of meat adhering to the bones. Sometimes bones are roasted first to improve the flavor of the bone broth. Bone broths are typically simmered for a very long period of time (often in excess of 24 hours). This long cooking time helps to remove as many minerals and nutrients as possible from the bones. At the end of cooking, so many minerals have leached from the bones and into the broth that the bones crumble when pressed lightly between your thumb and forefinger. bone broth has a thicker texture than meat broth, and the flavour although still great is not as culinary desirable as meat broth. Bone broth is rich in amino acids, specifically glutamine, collagen, and various minerals.
Collagen is a popular supplement used today for many different purposes, to enhance skin and joint health as well as support lean muscle mass following resistance exercise. (1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,) It is no surprise that a daily dose of collagen is desirable, as we age we want to offset inevitable losses. Always remember, not all collagen is the same. It is important to read the label and consult the research on what specific collagen peptide you are consuming and if the evidence supports the claims. Learn more here: skin, joint or muscle support.
Which One To Choose?
Use for flavour and if you are not able to tolerate bone broth.
- Short cooking time (45mins - 6 hours)
- Includes meat and bones
- Rich in gelatin
- low histamine and glutamine levels
- Easier to Digest
You could consider using meat broth when your dish is all about flavour and less about maximising your nutrient and mineral intake. Meat broth does contain gelatin which contains glutamine and can have a beneficial effect on the gut lining (13). Meat broth only contains small amounts of some minerals, it is not the powerhouse of minerals, amino acids, and collagen when compared to bone broth. A very particular situation in which meat broth could be a better option over bone broth is if you have severe gut inflammation or are on a diet such as the Gut and Psychology Syndrome (GAPs) diet and you are not tolerating bone broth. Due to the high histamines in bone broth and the higher amino acid content bone broth can be harder to digest than meat broth. Some people find it can be a good idea to start with meat broth while they slowly work their way up to being able to tolerate bone broth.
Use for gut healing compounds, immune support, mild flavour and anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Long cooking time (24 hours +)
- Mostly bones
- Rich in gelatin, amino acids, collagen, and small amounts of minerals such as copper, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium and phosphorus.
- High histamine and glutamine
- Due to a more complex nutrient profile, more effort to digest then bone broth.
The amino acid content of bone broth has been found in the literature to have anti-inflammatory benefits specifically with issues such as ulcerative colitis.(14) Bone broth also has a variety of minerals in small amounts, although this will not provide all that you need if consuming a cup a day, it is also wonderful for nutrient absorption. The nutrients are bioavailable and in an easy-to-digest form. Its amino acid structure and high gelatin content makes it soothing and healing for the gut and enhance the absorption of nutrients from other foods as well. It also contains glucosamine, chondroitin, sulphites and other compounds that support joint health.
Use as a gut-friendly way to increase lean muscle growth and repair, joint and skin health.
- Concentrated supplement form, can be sourced from marine sources or bovine.
- Higher more reliable concentrations of amino acids such as hydroxyproline, glycine, proline, hydroxylysine, leucine, and lysine. Needed as precursors for collagen synthesis.
Research shows that bone broth is unlikely to provide reliable concentrations of collagen precursors when compared to a collagen supplement. (15) A good quality collagen supplement containing specific amino acid sequences will have higher amounts of the necessary amino acids needed for collagen synthesis. Amino acids such as proline is a precursor for hydroxyproline that is used to make collagen in the body. Proline helps the body break down proteins and helps improve skin elasticity and smoothness (goodbye wrinkles). Collagen supplements also have higher amounts of Glycine which enhances muscle repair/growth by increasing levels of creatine and regulating Human Growth Hormone secretion from the pituitary gland.
If your specific need or goal is collagen then supplements such as Noway Collagen bodybalance Protein (support lean muscle mass), Beauty Collagen (Verisol skin health), and Jolt (tenderfort/fortigel bone and joint health) are great gut-friendly options.
Bonus Bone Broth Recipe
- 2kg of ORGANIC beef bones with marrow
- 4 carrots, chopped
- 4 celery stalks, chopped
- 2 medium onions, pool on, slice in half lengthwise and quartered
- 4 garlic gloves, peel on and smashed
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
- 5-6 sprigs of parsley
- ¼ cup of ORGANIC apple cider vinegar
- 18-20 cups of cold water
- Place all ingredients in a crock-pot
- Add water
- Turn on, walk away and be your brilliants self for the next 24-48 hours
- Remove from health and allow to cool slightly
- Discard solids and strain remainder in a bowl through a colander. Let stock cool to room temperature, cover and chill
- Use within a week or freeze up to 3 months (ice cubes are a great hack for portion size).
How To Use Bone Broth
Bone broth is extremely versatile and many chefs use it as a base for soups, gravies, sauces and more. Some ways to use bone broth can be as a base for soups and stews, in a mug by itself as a warm drink, as a base for gravy and sauce, use it to cook veggies or rice in place of water. After making a batch you can pour broth into ice cube trays and freeze it to use in many dishes.
The Take Home Message
Depending on your desired outcome, bone broth, meat broth or a high quality collagen supplement might be the best choice for you. If your focus is gut healing, immune health, and anti-inflammatory benefits then a cup of bone broth a day (or incorporated into cooking) could be the best option for you. If you are more interested in the collagen that bone broth contains, a collagen supplement would be the best option as collagen amounts in bone broth can be unpredictable and the specific amino acid collagen precursors are much lower. If you can why not go for the ultimate combo, bone broth, and collagen?
- Zdzieblik D, Oesser S, Baumstark MW, Gollhofer A, König D. Collagen peptide supplementation in combination with resistance training improves body composition and increases muscle strength in elderly sarcopenic men: a randomised controlled trial. Br J Nutr. 2015 Oct 28;114(8):1237-45. doi: 10.1017/S0007114515002810. Epub 2015 Sep 10. PMID: 26353786; PMCID: PMC4594048.
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- Zdzieblik D, Jendricke P, Oesser S, Gollhofer A, König D. The Influence of Specific Bioactive Collagen Peptides on Body Composition and Muscle Strength in Middle-Aged, Untrained Men: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Apr 30;18(9):4837. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18094837. PMID: 33946565; PMCID: PMC8125453.
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