Ask a Dietitian

Ask a Dietitian

"Diana, just a quick heads up to let you know we are still using your cookbook and the guys will often be heard saying what would Diana say about this or that....really good feed back... I made your potato salad and the oriental coleslaw on Sat. for a family luncheon and had rave reviews so thanks again."

Maeghan Henke
BC Hydro

Bone Broth: Superfood or Superfraud?

October 23rd, 2018

More and more of my clients have been asking about the health benefits of bone broth.  They wonder if it will smooth wrinkles or build bone.  There are also claims that bone broth can boost immunity, aid digestion, relieve arthritis, detox the liver and improve wound healing.  However, when you take a closer look at the nutrient profile, bone broth is not made up of a whole lot.

What is Bone Broth?

There isn’t one specific recipe for bone broth.  Generally speaking, bone broth is made from simmering bones from either chicken, pig or cow, occasionally with some meat still attached, along with various vegetables for 10-24+ hours.  It differs from a soup stock due to the length of time it is cooked.  Typically there is some vinegar added to the broth to help solubilize the minerals in the bones and leach them out into the broth.  Because the recipes vary, so too can the nutrient profile.


One cup of bone broth can contain anywhere from, 30-80 calories, 8-20 grams of protein (collagen) per serving, 2-4grams of fat, 8-10 grams of carbohydrates and varying amounts of iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium, manganese, vitamin C, B6 and sodium.   According to a study published in Food and Nutrition Research in 2017 the content of Calcium and Magnesium is less than one tenth of a milligram per cup which is less than 1% of the DRI and the amount of zinc and iron are also negligible.  They also looked at the heavy metals lead and cadmium and found that in 1 cup the levels were low enough to not cause a health risk.  However, the more times you eat broth in a day and overtime it is possible for lead to build up in our bodies.


The collagen in bone broth is digested into amino acids once consumed.  It is not magically directed to your hair, finger nails, skin or bone as collagen.  There is no evidence that eating collagen in any form will have a significant effect on these. However, 2 amino acids in collagen; proline and glycine are involved in collagen production along with vitamin C and zinc.

In terms of immune function, there is some evidence that chicken soup may help with chest colds so there may be some benefit from chicken bone broth. It may be somewhat anti-inflammatory.

There is no evidence that collagen can repair a leaky gut.

In terms of collagen production, best thing to do is eat foods that protect our collagen and promote collagen formation such as dark green leafy vegetables, kiwi, berries, fish, nuts, eggs, citrus and garlic.  These foods contain antioxidants that can help protect our collagen and minerals involved in the production of collagen.

Bottom Line:

If you want to consume bone broth, in moderation it appears to be safe.  It is not super high in nutrients so don’t use it as a source of calcium in place other calcium sources and consider adding some vegetables and whole grains if you want to have it as a meal.