Is Bone Marrow Healthy? Pros and Cons, Nutritional Benefits, and Risks Explained

Bone marrow is a flavorful, nutrient-rich food with proteins, vitamins, and minerals that benefit the immune system, joints, and gut. However, it may contain cholesterol, heavy metals, additives, and glutamate, posing potential risks.

eating bone marrow pros and cons

Bone marrow, once considered undesirable, is now popular among wellness enthusiasts and chefs. This tender meat, found in various animal bones, is flavorful and nutritious. Cooking it makes it soft and it can be enjoyed on toast or in broth. But is it actually healthy? Let’s weigh the pros and cons.

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TL;dR eating bone marrow pros and cons

Bone marrow contains proteins, vitamins, minerals, fats, and antioxidants. It can benefit the immune system, reduce inflammation, and promote healthy weight and gut, bone, joint, and teeth. However, bone marrow can contain cholesterol, heavy metals, additives, and glutamate, which can be harmful.

8 Pros Of Eating Bone Marrow

Very little scientific research has explored the role of bone marrow in the human diet. However, passionate enthusiasts testify to the many benefits of eating bone marrow, whether as a glutinous soup or capsule supplements. What are the reported advantages of eating bone marrow?

Delicious Taste

Fans of bone marrow refer to it as “the butter of the gods.” Bone marrow is deliciously decadent, with a buttery texture and savory umami flavor, making it a tasty choice.

Enjoy bone marrow as a creamy paté or spread with a side of toast or to enrich a flavorful soup like Vietnamese pho. It’s not hard to add to your diet to enjoy the benefits it provides.

Rich In Nutrients 

How nutritious bone marrow is depends on how you eat it: scooped straight out of the bones, boiled to release the nutrients in the bones as a broth, with fat and sodium, or in a soup with added veggies.

Bone marrow consists mainly of stem cells that develop into blood cells, whether red, white, or platelets. Bone marrow is a rich source of protein, vitamins A and E, niacin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, thiamine, biotin, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, zinc, potassium, chondroitin, glucosamine, and glycine.

If you cook beef, chicken, pork, lamb, or game bones, you release both the bone marrow and other nutrients in the bones. This makes the resulting broth highly beneficial. These nutrients include collagen, gelatin, antioxidants, protein, vitamins, and minerals. 

Adding vegetables to a bone broth makes it even richer in nutrients. However, like any soup, much of the substance is water, which is good for hydration.

Low In Calories

If you consume bone marrow as part of a hearty broth, it is low in calories, only 50-60 calories per cup. The soup’s richness leaves you satiated, allowing you to eat fewer calories and keeping you full until the next meal. Bone broth thus makes a handy snack for those on weight loss diets.

Bone marrow is a zero-carb source of fat and protein, making it ideal for those with a keto diet.

Regulates Weight

Bone marrow contains the protein hormone adiponectin, which helps to break down fats and reduce blood glucose. Adiponectin lowers the amount of glucose the liver produces and stimulates skeletal muscles to use more glucose and fatty acids. 

Adiponectin also helps to maintain insulin sensitivity, lowering your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and other lifestyle diseases.

Many people with obesity show low adiponectin levels, which is why they struggle to lose weight. 

Enhances Immunity

Animal bone marrow contains stem cells for making blood, just like human bone marrow. Eating bone marrow improves your production of white blood cells, which are an integral part of the immune system, defending the body against toxins and disease.

Bone marrow is rich in the B vitamins necessary for bodily processes like energy production. It also contains the fat alkylglycerol, which is immune-boosting. The only other source of this fat is breast milk.

Increasing your intake of these nutrients improves your body’s immune system.


Inflammation is one of your body’s defense mechanisms against trauma and disease. Unfortunately, poor diet and lifestyle lead to chronic inflammation in our bodies, related to diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer.

Nutrients in bone marrow, like the protein glycine, the hormone adiponectin, and the omega-9 fat conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), work actively to reduce inflammation and thus enhance the immune system.

Heals The Gut

Enjoying bone marrow in bone broth means you benefit from the nutrients in the bones, including glutamine. This amino acid helps to regenerate cells in your gut.

The protein collagen reduces inflammation in the bowel by lining the stomach. 

Adding bone marrow to the diet helps to ease the unpleasant symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), gluten intolerance, celiac disease, and leaky gut.

Eating bone broth for breakfast gives your gut a healthy start to the day.

Promotes Joint, Bone, And Teeth Health

Bone marrow and broth are rich in the protein collagen, essential to your body’s growth and development. This protein is vital for joints, bones, and teeth health and hair and nail growth. Adding collagen to your diet increases joint function. 

Other amino acids in bone marrow (like glucosamine and chondroitin) reduce arthritis symptoms like pain and inflammation and develop cartilage. These proteins and amino acids are the active compounds in many expensive pain medications – consuming them in bone marrow and broth is a natural source of healing.

Makes Skin Glow

Collagen is also responsible for the health of your skin, making it elastic, increasing hydration, and reducing wrinkles. This protein can heal and protect against sun damage.

Getting enough collagen means avoiding Botox and other surgical interventions to maintain youthful-looking skin.

6 Cons Of Eating Bone Marrow

Bone Marrow Is Bone Marrow Healthy? Pros and Cons, Nutritional Benefits, and Risks Explained

Although bone marrow is highly nutritious, there are some disadvantages to eating this meat, which can even cause harm. So – is eating bone marrow bad for you?

Low In Vitamins And Minerals 

Although bone marrow contains various vitamins and minerals, like calcium and magnesium, these substances only appear in microscopic proportions. Even though there are relatively high protein levels, it is not enough to meet your protein RDA. More nutritious foods include greens, fruit, chicken, and liver.

High In Fat

Bone marrow is high in fat – 97% – even if the fats have health benefits. It is essential to moderate your consumption of bone marrow to avoid putting on weight and suffering from high cholesterol.

The fats in bone marrow also contain cholesterol, which is a reason to eat bone marrow in moderation.

Heavy Metal Poisoning

One of the biggest dangers of eating bone marrow is exposure to toxic heavy metals.

Animal bones can contain lead and cadmium, amongst other metals, which are released when you cook bones

Exposure to heavy metals can damage hearing, the nervous and digestive systems, the kidneys, and joints. Lead, especially, can negatively impact the growth of muscles and bones. 

Although the levels of heavy metals recorded are low, heavy metal contamination is still a serious concern. Researchers urge caution in consuming bone broth.

Harmful Additives

Commercially produced bone broth can also be contaminated by harmful additives. 

Pre-made bone broth can contain additives like preservatives, coloring and flavoring agents, and fillers.

Before purchasing prepared bone marrow or broth, check that the main ingredients are meat, bones, water, and salt. If there are several artificial additives, buy organic meat and make your own bone marrow and broth.

Glutamate Allergies

Bone marrow and broth potentially contain glutamate, a neurotransmitter.

Some people react negatively to glutamate, which impacts their memory and mental functioning. Glutamate is associated with neurological disorders like seizures, multiple sclerosis (MS), autism, attention deficit disorder (ADD), and auto-immune diseases. Other adverse effects of glutamate allergy can be anxiety, restlessness, insomnia, mental fatigue, joint pain, confusion, and concentration problems.

Consult a doctor or medical professional immediately if you or a family member reacts negatively to consuming bone marrow or bone broth. 

Not Vegetarian or Vegan

Bone marrow and broth are excluded for those following a plant-based diet. While eating organic and free-range meat is the most ethical choice, vegans and vegetarians tend to avoid all animal-based products.

The nutrients in bone marrow and broth are all available from plant sources. For example:

  • Collagen is available in tomatoes, beetroot, carrots, berries, citrus, spinach, kale, and soybeans.
  • Foods rich in glycine include soybeans, dairy products, legumes, and the superfood spirulina.
  • Glucosamine is found in shellfish if you’re pescatarian and willing to eat crawfish, crab, lobster, and shrimp.
  • Sources of magnesium include whole grains, avocados, legumes, seeds and nuts, leafy greens, and dark chocolate.

Is Eating Bone Marrow Good For You?

Research on the nutritional benefits of bone marrow is limited. Still, bone marrow contains many essential nutrients which positively affect your immune system, gut, joints, bones, and skin. Bone marrow includes substances that reduce inflammation in the body and help you lose and regulate weight.

However, there are concerns that bone marrow is high in fat and cholesterol and may contain harmful heavy metals and artificial additives.

Is Bone Marrow High In Cholesterol?

Bone marrow is rich in fat and, therefore, high in cholesterol. The amount of fat depends on the animal, with cattle bones containing the highest cholesterol levels. Enjoy it in moderation if you choose to include bone marrow in your diet.

Is Bone Marrow Healthier Than Meat?

Bone marrow, like other organ meats, is richer in nutrients than regular meat from the muscles of animals. For example, bone marrow contains double the amount of vitamins A and B, four times the vitamin E in beef. Because it is nutrient-dense, a small portion of bone marrow will give you as many nutrients and more health benefits as a larger piece of meat. 

What Are The Negative Effects Of Bone Broth?

Bone broth containing bone marrow can have a negative impact because it is high in fat and cholesterol, so you should eat it in moderation. Unfortunately, many animals are exposed to toxic levels of heavy metals, which are present in the bone marrow you eat, exposing you to lead and cadmium poisoning. 

Commercially produced bone broth can also contain harmful artificial flavoring and coloring additives. Finally, bone broth contains glutamates, which react negatively with some people’s neurological systems.

What Are The Best Sources Of Bone Marrow?

The best bone marrow sources are ruminants, cows, moose, buffalo, bison, and reindeer. However, you can also get bone marrow from chicken, pig, and lamb bones. 

Choose organic meat from free-range, grass-fed animals, available at butcheries, health stores, and farmers’ markets.

Ask your butcher for the larger bones and to split them for you: shanks, knuckles, neck, and tail bones. Roast larger split bones and scoop out the creamy marrow. Or cook the bones to create a nourishing soup or broth.

You can also take bone marrow supplements.

What does bone marrow taste like?

Bone marrow actually has an umami flavor and is often described as buttery and creamy due to its high fat content. When cooked correctly, it offers a slightly sweet and savory taste with a rich, full-bodied flavor.

Is it healthy to eat bone marrow?

Eating bone marrow can be beneficial for various aspects of your health, such as supporting your immune system, heart, joints, digestive system, cognitive function, blood health, bone strength, skin renewal, and weight control, as suggested by research.

Is bone marrow expensive to eat?

Bone marrow is not expensive to eat. It can be found on the menu of many fine dining restaurants and is usually priced at a higher cost. However, making bone marrow at home is actually quite affordable, accessible, and easy to do.

Is bone marrow a meat or fat?

Bone marrow is not classified as meat or fat, but rather as a nutrient-rich substance. It is abundant in calories and fat, while also containing essential components such as protein, vitamin B12, riboflavin, collagen, and conjugated linoleic acid.

Does bone marrow taste fishy?

Bone marrow does not taste fishy. It is rich in fat and protein, offering a delicate and creamy nutty flavor with a touch of sweetness. The taste is truly remarkable, whether enjoyed on its own with a sprinkle of sea salt or added to enhance the umami profile of a hearty stew.

What are the best bones for eating marrow?

The best bones for eating marrow are beef marrow bones from the femur of cows, which are widely preferred for roasting because of their large size compared to other bones. Moreover, their straight shape makes them ideal for the canoe cut technique, where they can be easily cut lengthwise.

How do you make bone marrow taste good?

To make bone marrow taste delicious, you can enhance its richness by using ingredients that have a strong umami flavor. Consider incorporating anchovy, Stilton cheese, Marmite, miso, or confit shallots. Just like Fergus Henderson’s parsley salad accompaniment, it is advisable to pair the bone marrow with fresh and sharp flavors to balance out its fattiness.

Is bone marrow slimy?

Bone marrow has a slimy and gooey texture, which allows the bone to transform into a liquid pool of fat when cooked thoroughly. However, due to this particular texture, it is an acquired taste and not everyone enjoys it.

Is bone marrow hard or soft?

Bone marrow is a spongy and soft tissue that has a texture similar to jelly or jam that can be spread on toast. It is available in two colors, red and yellow. The purpose of bone marrow is to fill the hollow spaces within our bones and house the cells responsible for producing red and white blood cells, as well as platelets, which are essential components of whole blood.

Why do people like eating bone marrow?

People enjoy eating bone marrow due to its remarkably rich and buttery taste, which is why contemporary chefs are particularly fond of incorporating it into their dishes. Throughout history, humans have been consuming bone marrow for its exceptional blend of flavor and nutritional benefits, dating back to ancient times.

Are there dangers of eating bone marrow?

There are no dangers of eating bone marrow as long as the meat is cooked to a safe temperature. It is perfectly safe to consume the marrow inside the bones when raw beef, pork, lamb, and veal steaks, chops, and roasts are cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F, as measured with a food thermometer, before removing the meat from the heat source.

How do you prepare bone marrow to eat?

To prepare bone marrow for consumption, you can start by placing the seasoned bone marrow side up on a baking sheet tray or ovenproof skillet. Proceed to roast the marrow for a duration of 15 to 25 minutes, taking into account the size of the bones, until the marrow starts to bubble up. It is advisable to check the bones after 15 minutes. The marrow should be fully cooked when it attains a soft, jelly-like consistency, without being completely liquid.

Is it safe to eat raw bone marrow?

It is safe to eat raw bone marrow as it provides numerous health benefits due to its abundance of healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals. This practice is highly favored by advocates of the paleo, carnivore diet, and ancestral health movements. Enjoying it with a dash of salt is a simple and delightful way to consume it.

Why do chefs use bone marrow?

Chefs use bone marrow due to its rich and distinctive flavor. Exploring the unique texture and flavors of bone marrow is highly recommended for individuals enrolled in online cooking classes. The fatty substance extracted from the interior of bones has been discovered by chefs to have numerous fascinating and delicious applications.

Is it safe to eat bone marrow raw?

It is safe to consume raw bone marrow as it contains beneficial saturated fats, minerals, and proteins such as collagen. It can be enjoyed directly from the bone, spread on bread, or used as a topping for tacos. Additionally, marrow bones can be simmered with vegetables to create a nourishing bone broth.

What happens if you eat beef bone marrow?

If you eat beef bone marrow, you will be consuming several health-promoting compounds such as collagen, conjugated linoleic acid, glycine, and glucosamine. Although research on the specific health benefits of bone marrow is limited, these compounds have been associated with reduced inflammation, enhanced skin health, and improved joint function.

Is red bone marrow safe to eat?

Red bone marrow is safe to eat and is commonly consumed by humans as a food source. It is composed of yellow marrow found within the long bones, along with red marrow that contains a higher concentration of nutrients compared to yellow marrow.

Are there any benefits to eating bones?

There are indeed benefits to consuming bones as they are living tissues, similar to the meat we consume, and contain essential micronutrients for our bodies. Vital minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, sodium, magnesium, and other important trace minerals are abundant in bones.

Should you eat the skin of a marrow?

The skin of a marrow can be eaten, whether it is steamed, baked, boiled, fried, or roasted. However, if you choose to roast or fry it, it may be preferable to remove the seeds and stringy middles in order to fully savor the flesh.

What animal bone marrow can you eat?

You can eat bone marrow from animals such as cows, lambs, buffalo, or caribou. Consuming bone marrow provides a diverse range of health benefits. Research indicates that it contains a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals compared to muscle meat. Additionally, the stem cells present in bone marrow can support the production of both red and white blood cells in your body.

How safe is it to eat bone marrow?

It is safe to eat bone marrow as long as the meat is cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 145°F, as measured with a food thermometer, before removing it from the heat source.

Which animal bone marrow is best?

The best animal bone marrow is found in animals like cows, lambs, and moose. It offers various advantages, including reducing inflammation and supporting joint health. For thousands of years, bone marrow has been cherished as a culinary ingredient across the globe.

Is beef bone marrow healthy to eat?

Beef bone marrow is a healthy food choice due to its abundant nutritional content, including proteins, beneficial fats, vitamins, minerals, collagen, and other essential components. Its significance throughout history and versatility in cooking highlight its value as a nutrient-rich dietary source.

Is it OK to eat cow bone marrow?

It is acceptable to consume cow bone marrow as it is rich in beneficial saturated fats, minerals, and proteins such as collagen. It can be enjoyed directly from the bone, spread on bread, or even added to tacos. Additionally, the marrow bones can be simmered with vegetables to create a nourishing bone broth.

Can you eat all the marrow?

The marrow can be prepared by steaming, baking, boiling, frying, or roasting. While the stripy skin is edible, it is recommended to remove the seeds and stringy middles if you are roasting or frying, allowing you to fully enjoy the flesh.

What bone has the most marrow to eat?

The bone with the most marrow to eat is typically the long, straight femur bone. This is because the femur bone is the largest and contains a significant amount of marrow. As a result, beef or veal bones, specifically the femur bones, are commonly used for consuming marrow due to their size and easy accessibility.

What country eats bone marrow?

Bone marrow is consumed in Germany, particularly in traditional dishes like beef soup accompanied by bone marrow balls known as Markklößchen.

Is bone marrow always beef?

The bone marrow is not always beef; it can also be found in veal shanks. Primarily sourced from beef, commonly inside the femur, bone marrow is used in various famous recipes such as Pot-au-feu in France, Osso Bucco in Italy, or Bulalo, a Filipino beef marrow stew.

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