What Are the Benefits of Chicken Broth?

Drinking chicken broth may conjure up memories of your childhood when your mother would offer you chicken soup when you were sick, which may have you wondering if the broth can cure your cold like your mom insisted. Well, your mom was sort of right.

When it comes to chicken broth benefits, the hot soup may ease your cold symptoms, but it's not a cure. (Image: Madeleine_Steinbach/iStock/GettyImages)

While chicken broth benefits may be a bit exaggerated, the hot, clear soup can ease your congestion and keep you hydrated. It's not a cure-all for viral infections, but chicken broth has its place in a healthy, balanced diet.

Tip

When it comes to chicken broth benefits, the hot soup may ease your cold symptoms, but it's not a cure. However, the low-calorie drink may curb your appetite and assist with your weight-loss efforts.

What Is Chicken Broth?

When it comes to something as simple and wholesome as chicken broth, you'd think that you wouldn't need to really ask what it is. But it's important to understand from a culinary perspective exactly what is considered a chicken broth.

According to the Professional Chef by the Culinary Institute of America, published by Wiley in September 2011, chicken broth is a slow-simmered mix of bone-in chicken parts, aromatic vegetables, herbs and spices. The goal of the broth is to create a clear soup that can be consumed as is.

By comparison, a chicken stock, according to the Professional Chef, is made from the bones of the chicken, along with aromatic vegetables, herbs and spices, and is used as a base for other foods, such as a soup or stew, or as a flavorful liquid when making your mashed potatoes or rice.

Chicken broth and stock are not to be confused with consomme, which can be made from either the broth or stock. This French soup is highly flavorful but must be crystal clear and free of all ingredients other than the liquid itself.

Basic Chicken Broth Recipe

While homemade chicken broth takes time, the preparation is minimal. You can find many a chicken broth recipes that use a variety of ingredients on the internet. A simple chicken broth recipe may include:

  • 3 pounds of chicken (with skin, bone and flesh)
  • 2 large chopped onions
  • 1 large chopped celery stick
  • 2 large chopped carrot sticks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 sprig of parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of whole peppercorns

First, you want to soak your chicken in cold water for an hour; then drain and rinse. Then you place your chicken and the rest of the ingredients in a stock pot and cover with 3 1/2 quarts of cold water. Place your filled stock pot on the stove and bring the mixture to a boil; then turn your heat down to simmer and let it cook partially covered for two hours.

After cooking, taste your broth and season it with salt and pepper as needed. Then strain the liquid through a fine sieve into a container with a lid, and place your broth in the refrigerator. Allow the it to sit overnight so the fat can rise to the top and solidify, so you can skim it off. You can then enjoy your homemade chicken broth.

Chicken Broth Nutrition

Making your own chicken broth is fairly simple and a good way to control ingredients. While the ready-to-go chicken broth you find at the grocery store is convenient, it tends to be high in sodium. Low-sodium broth is usually available though.

Homemade chicken broth nutrition may vary depending on the ingredients you add. You may be able to find a recipe that provides nutrition information to use as a guide. In general, chicken broth you make from scratch should be fairly low in calories and sodium.

You can use the nutrition information from a ready-to-serve chicken broth to give you an idea of the nutrition in your homemade broth. One cup of ready-to-serve chicken broth has:

  • 15 calories
  • 2 grams of protein
  • 0.5 gram of fat
  • 5 milligrams of cholesterol
  • 1 gram of carbohydrate

According to the USDA, the ready-to-serve chicken broth isn't a significant source of any health-promoting nutrient other than riboflavin, providing 11 percent of the daily value. But the broth does contain a small amount of calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, vitamin B12, zinc, selenium, niacin and vitamin E.

The store-bought chicken broth is a significant source of sodium, with 923 milligrams per cup. The American Heart Association recommends you consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium a day. One cup of ready-to-serve broth meets more than 40 percent of the daily recommendations. If making your own chicken broth is too much, look for ready-to-serve low-sodium versions, which may have about 70 milligrams per cup.

Chicken Broth Benefits for Sickness

One of the reasons you may find chicken broth so comforting is because of its association as a cure for illness. In fact, it may be your go-to food when you're feeling under-the-weather.

According to MedlinePlus, chicken soup has been promoted as a remedy for the common cold since the 12th century. Warm chicken broth may help soothe your symptoms and clear up your congestion, at least temporarily. It's also a good source of fluids to help keep you hydrated. However, despite what your mother may have said, chicken soup or the plain chicken broth won't cure your cold.

While drinking chicken broth may not do much for your cold, it's a good source of fluids. Chicken broth is also easily digested and is part of the prescribed clear liquid diet, which is often recommended when you're experiencing digestive issues, such as diarrhea, nausea or vomiting. The broth is also a source of some electrolytes, which is important when you need to replace losses caused by diarrhea or vomiting.

Chicken Broth Benefits for Weight

When it comes to weight loss, you certainly have many ways to go about it, some more complicated than others. But if you're following a healthy, lower-calorie diet, you may find that initially your hunger makes it nearly impossible for you to stick with your plan. But chicken broth may be all you need to keep you feeling full so you can lose the weight for good.

According to an August 2017 systematic review and meta-analysis published in Eating Behaviors, consuming a low-energy density preload meal before your full meal may help you eat less. This review included an April 2007 study published in Appetite, that found that consuming soup in various forms, including broth, before a meal helped participants eat 20 percent fewer calories during their regular meal. Note, this was a small study with only 60 participants.

Drinking chicken broth, whether you made it yourself or you're using a ready-to-serve variety, before you eat lunch or dinner may help you feel full so you eat less. And with only about 15 calories per cup, you can drink the broth whenever you're feeling the urge to snack to help tame your appetite.

What About Bone Broth?

If you're drinking bone broth before bed because you heard it may help smooth out those wrinkles, you may want to reconsider. There have been numerous claims about the health benefits of bone broth, from improving bone strength to reducing arthritis pain. Unfortunately, according to Harvard Health, there's no scientific proof to back up any of these claims.

However, bone broth may help clear up congestion, much like chicken broth, and may help reduce inflammation, although the evidence is limited for both of these benefits as well.

There's nothing wrong with drinking bone broth, and it's a good source of protein with as much as 12 grams per cup. But it's not the miracle broth it's been claimed to be.

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