Plant-Based "Bone Broth": The Healthier Alternative
Although used for centuries in various cultures around the world, the last few years has seen ‘bone broth’ become a buzzword and make headlines as a cure-all "superfood" capable of healing issues ranging from colds and flu, to gut and joint issues and cellulite.
Whilst the concept is right on the money, what is overlooked is the unhealthy and potentially harmful, toxic effects that this animal-part-derived concoction can have.
Beyond this, with an ever-increasing proportion of the population becoming more health and "animal rights" conscious, the question is then…
Can animal bones be substituted with vegetables and other plant-based foods to provide better health benefits?
As it turns out, the answer is a resounding YES and as you’ll read here, a plant-based version can not only be extra delicious, but offer a host of additional advantages too!
The Truth About Traditional Bone Broth
The reality is that this slow-simmered soup consisting of the bones, skin, cartilage, ligaments and tendons of dead animals is really nothing exceptional at all.
Especially when you consider that the key nutrients and minerals contained within it are actually found in higher quality and more readily assimilated forms from plant sources - with no risk of toxic residue being caught in the gut!
Contrary to the hype and popular belief, eating collagen doesn’t mean you’ll have more collagen. Just like eating protein doesn't mean you'll build more muscle - because protein is actually built from plants.
It is highly questionable that collagen can even be digested properly!
Our bodies absorb the nutrients they need from food, which they then use as ‘building blocks’ to produce the collagen it requires.
Plants, especially leafy green vegetables, actually provide better ‘foundations’ for collagen production (and in abundant quantities), when compared to the tiny quantities of these same nutrients found in animal-based broth.
Similar to collagen, a lot of fuss is also made about the stomach-healing properties of Gelatin for restoring the health of the gut.
Well, guess what? There are some fantastic plant sources of that too!
Especially in the form of fermented foods, ‘good’ fats from plant oils, seaweed and turmeric.
Vitamins & Minerals
Any and all of the essential vitamins and minerals claimed to be in traditional bone broth are just as plentiful, if not more so in plant-based versions:
- Vitamins A, B, C & K
From these points alone, without even considering the issue of 'animal rights', it’s becoming pretty clear to see that the use of bones is at the very least over-rated, and possibly even useless, especially when held up against alternative ingredients based on plant whole foods.
Moreover, there is also something else to keep in mind…
Potential Health Concerns
Alarmingly, there are two factors that stick out which can actually cause health issues if bone-based broth is consumed on a regular basis:
1) High Glutamate content
The problem with too much glutamate is that it’s classified as an ‘excitotoxin’, which means that it’ll bind to certain brain and body receptors and damage neurons.
This can lead to symptoms and contribute to issues such as:
- Inability to focus (ADHD)
- Multiple Sclerosis
- Neurological disorders
2) Heavy metals
Although not all animals are contaminated with heavy metals like lead, it's tough to know which ones might be in varying degrees.
However, just like in humans, animals will ‘store’ certain heavy metals in their skeletons as a way to contain the toxicity in order to limit damage to other more sensitive body systems.
What compounds the potential issue though, is that traditional bone-broth is stewed and simmered for upwards of days at a time, giving ample opportunity for any toxic compounds stored in the bones to seep out into the broth.
Healthier Plant-Based Versions
So if you now accept that 'animal bones' are not only unnecessary, but also not as nutritious as plants, you'll probably agree that an alternative version prepared from plant-based ingredients, is going to be way more wholesome and healing without the risk of health-threatening side effects.
However, there’s one caveat.
You don’t want to heat, stew or simmer plant ingredients to absolute death, as this can actually reduce the nutritional value. Additionally, fermented foods need to be eaten raw, in order to preserve their gut-healing and health-promoting 'probiotics', so you’d be best to consume those separately.
Learn more in Probiotics: Health Benefits & 7 Powerful Food Sources
Although you could use a whole variety of different plant whole foods as well as numerous variations, in order to get the maximum health and healing benefits mentioned above, you’ll want to include certain types of plant whole foods, which we'll get into now…
When sourcing your plant-based ingredients, do your best to get organic ingredients or at the very least be sure to remove any toxic residue from pesticides or herbicides by soaking your produce in a mix of water and Apple Cider Vinegar.
Learn more in Organic Versus Non-Organic
Sea vegetables are not only great sources of vitamins and minerals, Iodine, fibre and polysaccharides that support your gut, but certain types like 'Wakame' are also high in essential Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Good For Inflammation, Brain & Heart Health.
In addition to their flavour, adding both fresh and dried mushrooms, such as 'Shitake' together into your broth is not only a good way to add in lots of protein and amino acids, but also an infusion of selenium to support your joints and immune function.
An extra benefit is that they're one of the few food sources of Vitamin D - important for your bones!
'Good' healthy fats found in many plant oils can not only lower your cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart dis-ease.
Some of the best choices are:
Dark Leafy Greens
Including either Spinach, Kale or a mixture of both will boost your broth with antioxidants, Vitamin K, iron, magnesium and calcium - all essential to the optimal performance of your body's systems and functions.
Aside from its beautiful flavour, adding this spice as an ingredient will not only naturally colour your broth yellow, but also add strong anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties.
Not only an excellent source of beneficial enzymes and antioxidants, true to their 'sign-of-nature', the body part which they resemble, they're also one of the best ingredients you can eat to support the health and strength of your bones.
As their orange colour indicates, carrots are high in beta-carotene which along with improving immune function also protect the skin and can keep your vision healthy.
Full of fibre, folic acid and organic sulfur compounds, as well as providing a flavourful contribution, will also add to the curative powers of your culinary creation.
Famous as a garnish and well-known for its detoxifying qualities, this popular herb is also highly nutritious and delicious!
Flavour Enhancers & Optional Extras
In addition to the base ingredients above, there's really no limit to what other vegetables and herbs you add to your broth. It really comes down to your personal flavour preferences and what's available seasonally. Some other suggested additions include:
- Bay Leaves
- Soy Sauce
- 1/4 Cup of Seaweed
- 1/2 Cup of Shitake Mushrooms
- 1/2 Cup of Fresh Mushrooms
- 4 Cups of Dark Leafy Greens
- Small Chunk of Tumeric
- 2 Cups of Celery
- 1 Carrot
- 1 Whole Onion
- 1/4 Cup of Parsley
- 2-3 Garlic Cloves (optional)
- Finely chop all base ingredients;
- In a large stock pot, sauté the celery, onion, garlic and turmeric using a few tablespoons of your plant oil of choice;
- Once tender, add 12 cups of filtered or spring water, a pinch of nature-made salt and slowly bring to boil;
- Add all other ingredients, reduce the heat and leave to simmer with the lid on for about 45 minutes;
- Enjoy hot or leave to cool - the broth will last refrigerated for up to a week. Store it in airtight glass jars and reheat either in a saucepan, or by placing the jar into a container of boiling water for 5-10 minutes to warm.
Tolman Self Care Team.