Chicken Broth: Are There Health Benefits?

Chicken broth is a staple of American cuisine that came from Northern Europe, chicken broth helps keep you cozy on cold nights and is a go-to remedy for many ailments.

It’s easy to see why chicken broth is an American comfort food with its soothing heat, rich aromatic smell, and classic flavor profile. The lightness of chicken broth makes it an excellent choice for people recovering from illness and lacking appetite. Even when you're feeling well, chicken broth is a great choice for a healthful, low-calorie meal. 

Chicken broth can be enjoyed alone or as part of a variety of recipes, from chicken noodle soup to a creamy chicken casserole. There are also hundreds of chicken broth varieties and thousands of homemade recipes. No matter how you enjoy it, chicken broth is a low-calorie choice that’s packed with nutrients and health benefits.

Nutrition Information

Chicken broth is rich with essential fatty acids and protein. Both help your body build and repair healthy muscle, bone, skin, and blood cells. Chicken broth is also a rich source of minerals like iron. 

Chicken broth also contains selenium. That helps prevent and manage cardiovascular diseases and complications, including strokes, and high cholesterol.

Depending on the ingredients used to prepare it, chicken broth may also contain:

1 cup of canned chicken broth contains:

  • 12 calories
  • 1 gram of protein
  • 0 grams of fat
  • 0 grams of fiber
  • 0 grams of sugar
  • 860 milligrams of sodium

Potential Health Benefits of Chicken Broth

When cooked, chicken broth helps sooth the body with heat, hydration, and nutrients. Chicken broth is rich with vitamins and minerals, which are useful against common ailments like the common cold, the flu, and food poisoning. The broth also provides several other notable health benefits, such as:

Weight management. With only 12 calories per serving, chicken broth is an excellent low-calorie option to enjoy as a part of a balanced meal. Chicken broth can be used as a substitute to lighten rich, high-fat recipes or as a low-calorie snack. As a part of a balanced diet, chicken broth can help to prevent obesity and encourage healthy weight loss

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Less inflammation. Chicken meat contains a compound called carnosine, which may help to ease inflammation. Chronic inflammation is associated with early stages of viral infection. Research has also shown that inflammation comes with a greater chance for diseases such as cancer.

Clearer nasal passages. Chicken broth not only provides valuable nutrients to help your body fight disease, cold, and the flu, but hot liquids like chicken broth help mucus move, clear airways, and ease nasal congestion.

Hydration. As a fluid, chicken broth helps to keep your body hydrated. Because it contains relatively high amounts of sodium, chicken broth also provides a natural way to help replenish the body’s electrolytes. Rehydrating is especially important if you're recovering from things like the common cold, flu, or food poisoning.

Potential Risks of Chicken Broth

Chicken broth is packed with sodium, which people with high blood pressure or heart disease should limit.

Be sure to watch how much salt you add to any broth-based dishes — to not only prevent a dish from tasting too salty, but also to manage your sodium. If you prefer to buy canned chicken broth instead of preparing your own, make sure to double check the label. Even “low sodium” varieties might contain too much sodium.

Healthy Alternatives

There are "no salt added" broths that bring the sodium numbers down to reasonable levels. However, if you use these, make sure not to try to make up the salt differences in the dishes you make with them.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on December 13, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Chest: “Effects of drinking hot water, cold water, and chicken soup on nasal mucus velocity and nasal airflow resistance.”

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon.

Food and Nutrition Research Vol. 59: “Role of poultry meat in a balanced diet aimed at maintaining health and wellbeing: an Italian consensus document.”

Journal of Applied Physiology: “Effect of sodium in a rehydration beverage when consumed as a fluid or meal.”

Nature: “Inflammation and cancer.”

The American Journal of Therapeutics: “Management of the virulent influenza virus infection by oral formulation of nonhydrolized carnosine and isopeptide of carnosine attenuating proinflammatory cytokine-induced nitric oxide production.”

The New York Times: “A Superior Chicken Soup.”

Fooducate: "Swanson Chicken Broth, Unsalted."

© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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