Does chicken broth help asthma, colds and flu? Yes.

Does Bone Broth Help Asthma, Colds, and Flu? Yes.

Winter is here and we are right in the middle of cold and flu season. There have been discussions on the Facebook page about the “powers” of chicken noodle soup to reduce the symptoms and duration of colds and flu. But does it work? It seems so.

How is broth good for asthma?

Let’s talk about the main ingredient used for chicken noodle soup, the broth. Bone broth has been used to heal since the 12th century. Even Hippocrates was recommending bone broth as an aid to digestive issues. Chicken soup and its broth is full of so much goodness that studies have shown its anti-inflammatory properties may ease symptoms of upper respiratory infections, according to a study published in the American College of Chest Physicians journal, CHEST.1

Chicken broth is one of my favorite ingredients to cook with, and I enjoy warm cups of homemade broth as a snack or instead of a meal when I’m not feeling well. Drinking broth also keeps you hydrated, which is extremely important when you're sick. I always make a big batch on Sundays to use for weekday meals all year round.

Stock, broth, and bone broth - what’s the difference?

When I was in culinary school (back in the early ’90s) we learned there were only two types of liquid; broth and stock. Stock and broth are often used interchangeably since they are very similar. Due to great marketing, stock is almost always more expensive in the grocery store.

Broth vs stock

  1. Ingredients. The differences in ingredients may seem small, but they are important. All three share the same main ingredients; bones, vegetables including onion, carrots and celery, aromatics or seasonings such as bay leaf, rosemary, oregano and thyme. Broth is sometimes made with chicken meat instead of or with bones. Bone broth differs because the bones are usually roasted before making the broth, and includes a small amount of vinegar to help pull out the nutrients found in the bones.
  2. Cooking time. The standard cooking time for broth is 45 minutes - two hours, and a little longer for a flavorful stock (I like six hours). The standard cooking time for bone broth is much longer, 12 - 24 hours. Longer cooking time allows for more nutrients to release from the bones.
  3. Color and consistency.  Broth is light in color, thin in consistency. Stock is darker in color, with consistency between broth and Jello. Bone broth is dark in color and thickens to look like Jello.

Why does both broth take so long to cook?

Bones contain essential nutrients such as calcium and magnesium. However, the real gold in these bones are collagen and gelatin, nutrients that are associated with improving joint and gut health. Simmering the bones for 12+ hours helps to release amino acids, which may reduce systemic inflammation. The long simmer also makes the nutrients easier to digest and absorb.

Cooking tips

  • Broth and stock smells delicious when slow cooking. Bone broth, on the other hand, can smell pretty horrible. The vinegar doesn’t help. You can try using a different acid such as lemon or tomato paste (my personal choice). Using a pressure cooker will reduce cooking time and help with the smell.
  • I get beef bones from the meat section in my local grocery store. Sometimes they are in the meat case, or I ask the butcher for them. Health food stores often sell frozen bones in a bag. You can save the carcass from store-bought rotisserie or homemade chicken.
  • Roast bones by placing them on a baking sheet and baking for 20 - 30 minutes at 400 degrees.
  • Add as many veggies as you like - potatoes, mushrooms (keep whole) and brussels sprouts are a few of my favorites. You can never have too many aromatics, either. I like heads of garlic, extra bay leaf and several sprigs of rosemary.

Has broth helped improve your health? Have a favorite recipe or tips to share? Let us know in the comments!

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