A blend of broth, rice noodles, herbs and meat, usually beef, pho soup is a common Vietnamese menu item. And like most restaurant foods, you need to be aware of how its prepared and watch your portion sizes to make sure you're not overindulging.
Pho is low in fat and supplies several key vitamins and minerals, but it can also be high in sodium. Pho soup can certainly fit into a healthy eating plan, especially if you prepare it at home and include the right toppings.
Pho Nutrition Facts Summary
For a 2.5-cup serving, Pho contains:
- 367 calories
- 6 grams of fat
- 24 grams of protein
- 51 grams of carbohydrates
Fat and Calories in Pho
A 619-gram serving of pho soup, equal to about 2 1/2 cups, contains 367 calories and 6 grams of fat. Of that 6 grams of fat, 2 grams are saturated — about 8 percent of the daily value for saturated fat.
Limiting your saturated fat consumption to less than 7 percent of your total intake of calories can help lower your chances of having a heart attack or stroke, according to the American Heart Association.
Protein and Carbohydrates
A serving of pho soup delivers 24 grams of protein — 52 percent of the 46 grams of protein women need each day and 43 percent of the 56 grams men require on a daily basis.
The same serving also contains 51 grams of carbohydrates, which falls within the 45-to-65-gram recommended daily intake for adults; something to keep in mind if you're limited your carbohydrate intake, or typically eat other foods that are high in carbohydrates.
That same serving of pho soup supplies 2 grams of dietary fiber, or 8 percent of the 25 grams of fiber women should have on a daily basis and 5 percent of the 38 grams men should aim for. Fiber helps your digestive system work normally and can help prevent constipation as well.
Read more: 12 Slimming Soups
Vitamins and Minerals
One of the most notable nutrients in pho soup is iron. A serving of the soup contains 20 percent of the daily value for iron. Iron is a mineral in red blood cells, which are responsible for oxygen transport, according to the University of California San Francisco's Health department.
You'll also get 10 percent of the daily value for vitamin C and 4 percent of the daily value for vitamin A and calcium, a mineral that helps support strong bones and teeth.
Sodium Content of Pho
You'll consume 384 milligrams of sodium in a serving of pho soup. That translates to about 26 percent of the 1,500 milligrams of sodium you should restrict yourself to on a daily basis, as recommended by the American Heart Association. A high-sodium diet can raise your blood pressure, which leaves you at a greater risk for heart attack and stroke.
How to Make Your Own Pho
While the occasional serving of pho soup at a restaurant can have a place in your diet, making your own can improve the nutritional value. For example, use low-sodium stock to cut the sodium content of the soup.
The best noodles for pho are made of rice, but swapping those rice noodles for noodles higher in fiber, such as whole wheat, is another way to boost the nutrition of the soup.
Top your pho soup with fresh vegetables to add fiber, vitamin A and potassium to the meal. Common vegetable toppings include bean sprouts, bell peppers and red onions. Fresh herbs, such as cilantro or basil, deliver a small boost of vitamin A, and a squirt of fresh lime juice adds a bit of vitamin C. Skip the salty hot sauces in favor of fresh jalapeno, which is naturally sodium free.
- King County Public Health: Pho -- Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup
- American Heart Association: Saturated Fat
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Protein
- Health.gov: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020
- University of California San Francisco: Hemoglobin and Functions of Iron
- American Heart Association: Get the Scoop on Sodium and Salt