Why Most Bone Broth Is BAD for Your Health
Collagen and bone broth brands spend lots of money to convince you their products are “clean” and “healthy.” We’re talking millions of dollars on marketing and fancy packaging with bogus health claims.
They are crafty marketers to say the least.
But fear not, because there’s an easy guide to cut through their b.s. and find out if you should buy a bone broth. The first step:
Read and understand the nutrition facts and ingredients in your bone broth.
It’s the only objective piece of information you have to judge if the ingredients are legitimate or not. Here are 8 things to look for on the nutrition panel/ingredients list:
Bone Broth Buying Guide Checklist
1. Is There Real Bone Broth on the Ingredient List?
Any bone broth powder should have bone broth as the first ingredient on the ingredient list. You will notice that some do not. Some have ingredients like collagen, bone broth protein, broth powder or bone broth concentrates.
None of these are real bone broth. They are cheaper alternatives that these brands use to increase protein without increasing cost.
The quality of the finished product suffers. Look for ingredients like: ‘chicken bone broth’ or ‘beef bone broth.’
2. Which Artificial Sweeteners do They Use?
A high quality bone broth powder should not contain any of the most popular artificial sweeteners like saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium and sucralose.
But supplement manufacturers are notorious for sneaking so-called “all-natural” sweeteners that may not be so good for you into their bone broth. Here are a few to be wary of:
Avoid these so-called “natural” sweeteners.
Erythritol is a ‘new’ sugar alcohol that can cause serious gut issues including gas, bloating and diarrhea. Some people are fine with erythritol, other are not.
Cane sugar is self explanatory. It’s sugar.
Xylitol is a highly processed sugar alcohol that can cause gut issues.
Monk fruit is the new stevia. It’s becoming very popular among many supplement and food companies. It's an incredibly concentrated sugar substitute made using ethanol chemical resins and often contains GMO fillers.
Stevia is the most popular sweetener of choice for big food and supplement brands. The stevia that most brands use is highly processed and chemically made using bleaches and fillers.
3. Is it Free From Cheap, Filler Protein Sources ?
Many top bone broth powder manufacturers don’t even use real bone broth (see #1 above). You’ll want to scan the ingredient list for any of the following cheap filler protein sources. Brands use these fillers instead of real bone broth because they are cheaper.
You’ll find that there are many brands masquerading as bone broth that have nothing resembling bone broth in their ingredients. Don't buy this bone broth.
Sadly there is no legislature to stop these brands from misleading you. Here is what to look for:
Collagen: anything resembling collagen including ‘bovine hydrolyzed collagen’ is still just… collagen. Collagen is not bone broth, it’s a highly processed protein powder.
Bone Broth Protein: Bone broth protein is a nutritional supplement form of bone broth. It is bone broth powder that has been stripped of its flavor and natural electrolytes. You need to be careful because these are highly processed versions of bone broth. Oftentimes, there are additives and anti-caking agents not listed on the ingredient lists in these bone broth protein products.
4. What Other Processed Ingredients (Flavors, Gums, Fillers, etc.) do They Add?
Here are a few ingredients you’ll find in the majority of the popular so-called bone broth powders:
Natural flavors: About 90 percent of “natural” flavors have chemical solvents and preservatives. They’re found in processed meat products (or Beyond Meat) to simulate the taste of meat. If you see them on the ingredients list of your bone broth, make sure you ask the brand how they’re made and what’s in them.
Chicory Root : Chicory root is a plant fiber made mostly of inulin. It is ground up and used as a coffee alternative. Nowadays, it is used as a food additive to add fiber to processed foods. Inulin that you find in packaged foods is sometimes chemically changed to make it sweeter (1, 2).
Yeast Extract: Used a lot in plant based foods to mimic meat flavour. It adds flavor and lots of sodium. Yeast extract is also used to make MSG mimicking flavors.
Salt: This is usually to add flavor. It is interesting to note that they use regular salt in the bone broth powder, but sea salt in the reduced sodium chicken bone broth powder.
Potassium Chloride: Potassium chloride is used to mimic the taste of salt without adding sodium to a nutrition label. It is also used as a flavor enhancer, stabilizer or thickener in processed foods.
Spices: This could be anything. We will assume it is a blend of spices to enhance flavor.
Guar / Xanthan Gum: These are thickening agents used to help powder products disperse in water.
Sunflower Lecithin: An emulsifier that is used to make liquids and oils combine and mix together.
Silicon Dioxide: Used as an anti-caking agent in protein powders.
5. How Much Sodium is in the Bone Broth?
Here’s the dirty secret with bone broth powder: most of them are chalked full of sodium. This is because many of the filler ingredients are salt bombs. Also, some brands will add extra salt as an ingredient to help the taste.
You won’t find high sodium in the bone broth powders that use unflavored bone broth protein because the salt has been stripped out during the processing.
6. Are There Electrolytes in the Bone Broth?
Naturally made bone broth will have electrolytes including potassium, chloride and phosphorus. The best bone broth powders will also have small amounts of magnesium and sodium.
The electrolyte test serves as a good rule of thumb to test how processed a bone broth powder is.
No potassium (or less than 250 mg per serving)? Then you know it is processed because the processing strips electrolytes out of the bone broth.
7. How Many Grams of Carbs and Fat do You See?
There should not be any carbs in bone broth powder. If there are, then the product likely has sugar or other ingredients that make up the carbs.
Fat has its place in some bone broth products. Some prefer to leave the fat in the bone broth, while others do not.
8. How are there Ingredients Processed?
Closely guarded secrets among bone broth powder and supplement brands. Why? Truth be told, they don’t actually know how their products are truly manufactured.
This is because they pay a contract manufacturer to make their product and label it for them.
Most protein powders (including bone broth protein) are made using a high heat, acid-flushing process. So if you see bone broth protein on your ingredient list, you can assume it’s highly processed.
This high heat and chemical-laden processing destroys vital nutrients. I spoke about how it removes electrolytes above, it also denatures other micronutrients. Not to mention it;s not stuff you want to be ingesting in the first place.
A small group of bone broth brands disclose how they make their products. Most do not and it’s a big red flag.