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10 Hidden Health Benefits of Fish Broth

Posted by Christina Boyes on

Free Fish Broth Recipes

These days, bone broth is all the rage – and with good reason. It’s a nutritious, filling, and comforting beverage with roots that are probably as old as cooked food. While bone broth stole center stage, however, an equally healthy and most-likely ancient treat flew under the radar. Fish broth.

I know, I know. Fish juice. Sounds gross, right?

If you’re squeamish, the preparation of fish broth at home is daunting. It starts with fish heads. How’s that for intimidation?

I’m not the kind of person who deals well with food that stares back. I don’t even drink coffee from mugs that are head shaped. It’s creepy.

When I first heard about the benefits of  fish broth, I was hesitant. I knew how good bone broth was for me, and it made sense that fish stock would be, too. But could I get past the… heads? It turns out that I could. Of course, I got a little help from an article in Modern Farmer that described, in decadent detail, how scrumptious these oft-forsaken bits of fishy heaven could be.

The health benefits of fish broth far outweigh a little queasiness over the use of fish heads, tails, bones, and other remnants. Trust me, the final result is worth it (and doesn’t even taste fishy!) Fish heads do more than benefit your health, as you’ll soon find out. And you might already be eating them…

Hello, Iodine

Homemade fish stock is often touted as an excellent source of iodine. That’s a good thing, especially if you like fancy salts. That Himalayan pink salt in your pantry is most likely not fortified with this vital micronutrient. And that could be hurting your IQ. Low iodine levels and iodine deficiencies, although rare, are linked to problems like obesity, lower IQ, goiter, and hypothyroidism, among others.

One of the most important and unique benefits of fish broth is the iodine it adds to your diet. Drink up – it’s time to make sure you’re as smart as you can be.

Real Brain Food

Speaking of intelligence, fish broth is a powerful brain food, in every sense of the word. It provides a mix of fats, vitamins, and minerals (and amino acids, too!), that’s perfect for putting your brain in prime condition. Fish, in all forms, has repeatedly been shown to slow cognitive decline and improve memory.

Yum, Yum, Calcium

What’s in bones? You guessed it. Calcium. Fish broth is no exception, and if you make your own homemade fish broth, you can save the bones. Once they dry, you can crush them into a fine powder in your food processor and combine them with a little salt for a dash of added flavor and nutrition – and calcium – in your meal.

Calcium is a bone-building mineral that also helps muscle contraction, coagulate blood, and release hormones and enzymes in the body, among other functions. Good stuff. Without it, your heart couldn’t beat.

Make Your Thyroid Happy

Hypothyroidism is a growing problem, but fish broth might have an answer. Rich in thyroid-supporting nutrients, it’s a food that many nutritionists recommend to support thyroid health. If you’ve got hyperthyroidism, however, steer clear.

Gelatin

Calcium isn’t the only bone-building component of fish broth. This culinary treat is also a great source of gelatin, which contains collagen, something most of us are quite familiar with. Although the jury is still out on the overall impact of gelatin on bone and joint health, the anecdotal evidence is strong. It’s a popular remedy for osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and numerous other conditions, not all of which are bone-related.

Healthy Fats… and Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Vitamin bioavailability is a big concern for many healthy eaters, myself included. What good is taking a supplement or eating specific foods to gain nutrients if they aren’t bioavailable? Luckily, fish broth contains a delectable combination that your health will love. It includes high quantities of healthy omega-3 fatty acids as well as fat soluble vitamins. Healthy fats + fat soluble vitamins = nutrition delivered where your body needs it.

Vegetarian Friendly

Life on a specialized diet can be difficult. Add to that the desire to eat in a way that matches your morals, and life gets really complex. Vegetarians who crave the health benefits of bone broth can relish in the fact that fish broth is often considered nutritionally superior to meat and poultry bone broths, but doesn’t require the death of any mammals or birds.

Move Over Sports Drinks

Even bone broth skeptics agree on one major point: bone broth (and fish broth) is an excellent athlete’s drink. Post-game or competition, a little bone broth can help the body replenish electrolytes and hydrate. An added benefit is the amino acid content. Fish broth’s amino acids can actually help muscle repair and recover post-exercise.

Mineral Mania

Fish broth is loaded with vital minerals outside of those already discussed in this post. From trace amounts of rare minerals to abundant quantities of calcium and iodine, it’s an excellent way to pack more nutritional punch into your day.

Not Just Your Health…

The health benefits of fish stock aren’t limited to the ones you personally experience. When you eat this delicious broth, it’s beneficial for other people and the planet, too.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of fish heads, skeletons, and fins are discarded. In 2011, Norwegian fishermen dumped more than 220,000 tons of “fish parts” at sea after processing their catch. The bulk of a fish’s weight is in its head, and much of that weight is edible.

Aside from the obvious waste that would be eliminated if more people ate fish broth made with boiled fish byproducts like the head and skeleton, there’s another factor to consider. The planet.

Raising cattle and poultry is energy intensive and requires hundreds to thousands of gallons of water. Boiling the bones of livestock into broth is also energy intensive, taking from 12-48 hours, depending on the recipe and type of bones being cooked.

Wild-caught fish don’t require excess energy or freshwater to raise, and cooking fish broth takes 2-4 hours, making it significantly less energy intensive to create.

Conclusion

Fish broth is a delicious, vegetarian alternative to bone broth that offers a surprising range of health benefits. If you haven’t tried it, it’s time to give it a taste. From improving thyroid health to increasing your brain power and helping you rehydrate after a sporting event, fish broth health benefits are many and the time it takes to make a good homemade fish stock is negligible.

Keep in mind that you need to simmer your fish broth over low heat in order to make sure you extract the mot nutrition from the fish, but don’t get the heat so high that those nutritive components break down in the cooking process.

When it comes to preparation, I’m not a fan of messy filleting and butchering, so I get it if you can’t get past the idea of cooking with fish heads. You can still get fish broth in your diet, however. Pre-made fish broth is a great option for many home cooks.

Having fun with fish broth recipes? Share this article to help your friends and family join in the adventure. Waste less, live better, and nourish your body. Eating fish broth regularly is a great way to get started. 

Image Credits: Pixabay

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