- What is bone broth? Bone broth (made from simmering chicken or beef bones) can be a good source of protein — particularly collagen. Although vitamins and minerals are naturally found in bone broth, amounts are small — less than 5% of daily requirements. The mineral found in highest concentration is potassium. (See What It Is). Sodium naturally occurring in bone broth is about 100 to 150 mg per cup, but some have added salt, boosting levels to about 500 mg. Bone broth protein supplements are produced by dehydrating bone broth.
- What are the health benefits of bone broth? Although there is not much clinical information about the effects of bone broths, research with collagen suggests that it may help build muscle, reduce joint pain, increase bone mineral density, modestly improve skin elasticity, reduce wrinkles and strengthen nails. Bone broth has also been promoted for boosting the immune system and healing the digestive tract, and the protein in bone broth also contributes to one's daily requirement for protein. (See What It Does).
(Learn how bone broth compares to other types of protein, such as whey, casein, soy, rice, pea and hemp, see the What to Consider When Buying section of the Protein Powders and Drinks Review.)
- How much bone broth do I need to get a benefit? A one-cup serving of bone broth can contribute substantially to your daily protein needs — although our testing showed that the amounts of total protein provided by products can vary widely, from 3.8 grams up to 17.6 grams. Most clinical trials of collagen have used daily doses of 10 to 15 grams. A cup of bone broth averages about 5 grams of collagen, but this can also vary. (See ConsumerTips, which also explains what to look for on labels).
- What did CL's tests of bone broth products find? The bad news: One product contained only 38% of its claimed protein and 75% more sodium than listed. The good news: All other products met their label claims for protein and sodium, and none exceeded stringent limits for contamination with heavy metals (lead, arsenic, or cadmium). However, CL found large differences in the amounts of protein and collagen (which is not typically listed on labels) in products and the cost to obtain them. To obtain 5 grams of collagen, for example, the cost ranged from just 56 cents to $9.99. (See What CL Found). Powered bone broths, in general, cost only one-quarter that of ready-to-drink bone broths. Chicken bone broths are about half the price of beef bone broths — although more of the protein in beef broths tends to be collagen.
- Best bone broth? Based on results of our laboratory and taste tests, as well as cost, CL chose 4 products as its Top Picks.