Chicken broth nutrition can vary quite a bit since there are many different types. A consommé can be light and herbal, adding the smallest touch of flavor and additional nutrients to a dish, while a hearty, bone-based stock can act as a rich base for any soup or stew and is likely to have more collagen and gelatin. However, most commercially prepared chicken broths have minimal nutritional value; the healthiest chicken broths are those cooked at home.
Read more: 7 Surprising Foods to Combat Colds
Chicken Broth Nutrition Facts
Your chicken broth's nutrition depends entirely on the manufacturer. In general, most chicken broths' calories are fairly low. Fat, carbohydrates and vitamins may or may not be present, but there is always sodium and protein in chicken broth. For example, a cup-sized serving (240 milliliters) of unbranded chicken broth taken from the USDA Branded Food Products Database has:
- 5 calories
- 1 gram of protein
- 6 percent of the daily value (DV) for sodium
In comparison, the same amount of Wal-Mart brand chicken broth has:
- 10 calories
- 1 gram of protein
- 1 gram of carbohydrates
- 37 percent of the DV for sodium
This type of chicken broth also has trace amounts of potassium and vitamin A. Finally, in one cup (240 milliliters) of an organic, free-range chicken broth like Imagine Organic Free Range Chicken Broth, you can find:
- 20 calories
- 1 gram of fat
- 1 gram of protein
- 2 grams of carbohydrates
- 6 percent of the DV for vitamin A
- 31 percent of the DV for sodium
This type of chicken broth also has trace amounts of calcium and potassium. As you can see, most commercially purchased chicken broths don't have many nutrients. However, it's possible to make your own broth and enrich its nutrition substantially.
Sodium in Chicken Broth
Essentially, all commercially prepared chicken broths are low in calories and nutrients. With few exceptions, these products tend to be high in sodium. The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. When possible, most people should actually try to consume a maximum of 1,500 milligrams of sodium on a daily basis.
According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, reducing your sodium intake can help improve your cardiovascular health while decreasing your risk for health problems like cancer, osteoporosis and kidney disease.
There is one exception to this recommendation, though. People who live very active lifestyles or have physically active jobs may need to consume more sodium. Sodium is both an essential nutrient and an electrolyte. Other electrolytes include calcium, potassium, phosphate, magnesium and choline.
Electrolytes are important, as they help move nutrients into your cells while moving waste out of them. They also help balance the amount of water in your body and keep various organ systems, like your central nervous system and heart, working properly. While most people need to limit their sodium intake, people who lose electrolytes throughout the day when they sweat need to replenish them. This can include people who are actively trying to lose weight.
Although water can help rehydrate your body, it's not enough to balance your electrolytes. According to the American Council on Exercise, people often use energy drinks, sports gel or sports candies like gummies to replenish their electrolytes. However, soups and broths can also help you maintain electrolyte levels.
If you're looking for a low-calorie, low-sugar way of balancing your electrolytes, many chicken broths can help maintain healthy sodium and chloride levels. While calcium and magnesium are typically present in fairly small amounts, these can also be found in many homemade bone broths and can help to support your electrolyte levels.
Homemade Chicken Broth’s Benefits
Regardless of why you're consuming chicken broth, making your own chicken broth at home is healthier than buying commercially prepared versions. Homemade chicken broth allows you to avoid consuming excess sodium.
This doesn't mean tossing in a bouillon cube, though — you have to actually to boil your chicken from scratch. Chicken stock that comes from bouillon cubes actually has more sodium than commercially prepared products, with about 40 percent of the daily value. Bouillon-based chicken broths also have less fat (0.6 grams), carbohydrates (0.7 grams) and protein (0.7 grams) compared to other chicken broths.
The best homemade chicken broth will contain a variety of other ingredients that can enhance the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants of this food. Of course, most of these ingredients are typically filtered out if you're consuming just broth, which means you won't obtain certain types of nutrients, such as fiber. However, other nutrients, like vitamins and minerals, can leach out into the broth.
According to an October 2015 study in the Journal of Functional Foods, fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices can all act as nutrient-enhancing, antioxidant-rich ingredients. Examples of these ingredients include rosemary, sage, garlic, ginger, thyme, carrot, potato and onion.
Adding these ingredients doesn't turn your chicken broth into a vegetable broth. These antioxidants are simply beneficial, as they are able to potentially improve the functionality of your immune system and protect your cardiovascular system. Antioxidants aren't only good for your nutrition; they can also improve the shelf life of your chicken broth.
Read more: 10 Easy Clean-Eating Recipes
Consuming Homemade Chicken Bone Broth
Slow-cooking your chicken and chicken bones can also help to improve the quality of your chicken broth. Slow-cooked broths are often cooked over long periods of time. This leads to chicken broths that are typically less clear in color and have much more intense flavor. Unlike consommé, these are known as bone broths. Bone broths are less clear in color and might even be used to make stock. Consommés can also be bone broths, but are clear and filtered in comparison to heartier stocks.
Many bone broths that are cooked for a longer period of time, even on lower temperatures, tend to have more fat. This fat comes from the collagen and gelatin in chicken's bone marrow. This fat is not desirable for everyone's diet and can be easily filtered out, though. Just allow the broth to cool and remove the hardened, gelatinous layer on top.
According to the authors of a July 2017 study in the journal Food and Nutrition Research, bone broths have been shown to help increase mucus production when you have a respiratory infection, which is why bone broth is often recommended as a remedy to help resolve colds. The authors note that bone broth may also help support your immune system by minimizing inflammation and, more recently has been recommended as part of the treatment for health problems related to the gut-brain axis, such as autism and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
- Food and Nutrition Research: "Essential and Toxic Metals in Animal Bone Broths"
- Journal of Functional Foods: "Phenolics and Polyphenolics in Foods, Beverages and Spices: Antioxidant Activity and Health Effects – A Review"
- MyFoodData: "Nutrition Facts for Soup Chicken Broth or Bouillon Dry"
- American Council on Exercise: "August 2010 Electrolytes: Understanding Replacement Options"
- MedlinePlus: "Fluid and Electrolyte Balance"
- American Heart Association: "How Much Sodium Should I Eat per Day?"
- Imagine Foods: "Free Range Chicken Broth"
- USDA: "Full Report (All Nutrients): 45103429, Chicken Broth, UPC: 078742371566"
- USDA: "Full Report (All Nutrients): 45242291, Chicken Broth, UPC: 099482442514"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Salt and Sodium"
- Chest Journal: Chicken soup inhibits neutrophil chemotaxis in vitro; Barbara O. Rennard, et al; 2000
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Americans Consume Too Much Sodium (Salt)