Why Is Chicken Broth and/or Bone Broth So Good For You?
Posted Jun 11 2010 2:01pm
I will begin by saying that the difference between “broth” and “stock,” is not much. These terms are often used interchangeably, but sometimes “broth” means from meat and vegetables, where “stock” always includes bones.
Let’s begin with the basics by breaking down some of the things that most of us already know about the healing powers of “broths” and “stocks.” To keep it simple I am going to use the term “stock” as you will soon learn that it truly is the bones that provide the bigger part of the nutrients being offered. Some of these already understood benefits of “stock” include:
Boosting the immune system
Aids in digestion
Improves the efficiency of protein digestion
Provides easily digestible minerals, including calcium
Crazy…I know…why are we all not drinking this stuff on a regular basis? I do, and I think after reading this, you might too! In fact, I prepare a batch every week to have with my breakfast or for a dessert. It is a great alternative to nighttime tea!
The question remains…How does it do all these wonderful things?
Considering that chicken is one of the most popular ingredients in stock (beef is also popular but more specifically with bone broths)it makes sense to to understand what exactly it is that chicken has to offer.
Chicken contains an amino acid called cysteine, a substance released when you make the soup. This amino acid is similar to the drug acetylcysteine, which is prescribed by doctors to patients with bronchitis due to its ability to breakdown proteins found in mucous that settles in the lungs.
Cysteine can be found in proteins throughout the body and when used as a supplement it is usually in the form is N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC). The cool part about this is, cysteine, whether taken in supplement form or not, converts to glutathione, a very powerful antioxidant!
Glutathione is a potent antioxidant, protecting fatty tissues from the damaging effects of free radicals. The antioxidant activity of glutathione is attributed specifically to the presence of cysteine in the compound.
In addition, glutathione also plays a vital role in the detoxification of harmful substances by the liver and can chelate (attach to) heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and cadmium. It is also believed that glutathione carries nutrients to lymphocytes and phagocytes, important immune system cells.
Next, we have the carrots! Carrots, one of the routine vegetable ingredients found in chicken soup, are the best natural source of beta-carotene. The body takes that beta-carotene and converts it to vitamin A. Vitamin A helps prevent and fight off infections by enhancing the actions of white blood cells that destroy harmful bacteria and viruses.
In addition to their antioxidant and immune-enhancing activity, carotenoids have shown the ability to stimulate cell to cell communication. Researchers now believe that poor communication between cells may be one of the causes of the overgrowth of cells, a condition which eventually leads to cancer. By promoting proper communication between cells, carotenoids may play a role in cancer prevention.
Onions, another chicken soup regular, contains quercetin, another very powerful anti-oxidant. Quercitinis a bioflavanoid that is found naturally present in teas — both green and black — apples, onions, and beans. It offers many benefits including maintaining the health of collagen. which is responsible for the firmness and health of our skin. Quercitin also improves the health of capillarie and connective tissue (alleviating bruising, edema, varicose veins, etc.). Other benefits include its ability to inhibit histamine, acting as a natural anti-histamine in many bronchial related conditions, such as allergies and asthma. In addition, quercitin has been ascribed anti-inflammatory and decongestant properties!
For individuals who live in high pollen count areas, quercitin is extremely advantageous as it limits allergic reactions due to pollen.
To top it off, 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.
I could probably keep going but I will let you learn more by giving it a try. Any of you reading this probably would assume this without me having to tell you, but I am going to anyway…use only organic, free range protein, organic veggies and filtered water to get the best results from your broth. Cut the legs and wings off at the joint to expose the bone and let soak in water and 2 tbsp of vinegar prior to cooking. This will assist in the leaching of these minerals from the bones.