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Home arrow Nutrition arrow Healthy Eating arrow Is Pho Soup Healthy? Nutrition Facts and Benefits

Is Pho Soup Healthy? Nutrition Facts and Benefits

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Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
HR_author_photo_Edna
Fact checked by Edna Skopljak, MD
Last update: June 22, 2023
6 min read 930 Views 0 Comments
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We dive into the nutrition facts and benefits of Pho soup.

is pho healthy

Pho is a popular soup in Vietnamese cuisine that most soup lovers cannot resist. It has a rich, meaty flavor that is enhanced by natural herbs and spices and the slow cooking process.

Some people wonder if the soup is healthy because most store-bought soups can be high in calories, sodium, and saturated fat. Does this mean you should avoid pho? 

This article provides an overview of pho, including its nutritional value, potential health benefits and drawbacks, and a healthy pho recipe. Whether you want to try a new soup recipe or are just curious about pho, read on for more information.

Is Pho Healthy?

Pho is healthy because of its vitamin and mineral content. It contains iron, zinc, magnesium, selenium, B vitamins, and vitamins A, C, and K. You can increase the nutritional value by combining the soup with lean cuts of meat and extra vegetables.

However, we recommend that you eat pho in moderation as it can also be high in sodium and carbohydrates.

5 Health Benefits of Pho Soup

Eating pho is good for your health when it is made with nutritious ingredients. Here are five potential health benefits of pho.

#1 Rich in nutrients

A warm bowl of pho is a good source of vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc, thiamin, and niacin.

It also contains a variety of herbs and spices, such as basil, which boosts the immune system, reduces inflammation, and prevents illness.

#2 May improve digestive health

Some ingredients used to make pho, such as ginger and star anise, have been traditionally used to aid digestion and soothe stomach upset. In animal studies, star anise has been shown to reduce the secretion of stomach acid and may prevent the formation of stomach ulcers. 

On the other hand, research suggests ginger may be effective in gastrointestinal disorders such as nausea and vomiting. Ginger also contains anti-inflammatory properties.

#3 Good for hydration

Since pho is made with water, it can be a healthy way to stay hydrated. It is also a good source of electrolytes such as potassium and sodium, which can help restore electrolytes lost during illness or after exercise.

#4 Can help maintain a healthy weight

Pho is low in calories and a healthier option for those trying to maintain a healthy weight or lose weight. Eaten in moderation, it provides carbohydrates and fat (both saturated and unsaturated) that fuel the body. However, because it contains saturated fat, you should serve it with lean meat to reduce your intake of saturated fat and add a boost of lean protein, which improves satiety and curbs cravings.

#5 Good for joint health

Pho is typically made with beef or chicken bones. Bone broth is rich in collagen, chondroitin, and glucosamine, which are beneficial for joint health.

Side Effects of Pho Soup

Although pho has numerous health benefits, there are potential downsides to eating too much.

#1 It may be high in sodium

Instant noodle soup may contain more sodium than homemade soup. High sodium intake increases the risk of high blood pressure. To reduce sodium intake, choose low-sodium options or vegetable-based broths, or make the soup at home.

#2 Low in fiber

Pho is low in fiber, which is necessary to increase satiety and reduce calorie intake. Use whole grain noodles and serve with more veggies to increase your fiber intake.

Nutrition Facts of Pho

Is pho healthy? Let’s look at the nutritional information of pho.

Pho
Dish
Is pho keto
Not Keto Friendly
Key nutritional facts (per 100g):
Net carbs
9.8g
Total carbs
10.4g
Fats
2.26g
Protein
6.15g
Calories
88
Glycemic Index
61
Fiber
0.6g
Sugars
0.77g

Source: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/1100099/nutrients 

Low in calories

A medium bowl of pho (100g) contains 88 calories which is only 4% of the daily requirement based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Thus, making it a filling yet relatively low-calorie meal option. To determine your exact caloric requirement, please use this calorie calculator.

High in protein

One cup (100g) of pho contains 6.15g of protein per 100g, which is about 12% of the daily value based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Therefore, eating more bowls of pho or adding more protein to the soup can increase your protein intake.

Low in fats

Pho soup is low in fats. A 100g serving provides 2.26g of total fat, only about 10% of the daily value based on a 2000-calorie diet. 

The soup is also low in saturated fat, with 0.672g per 100g serving. According to research, it is recommended that women consume no more than 20g of saturated fat per day and men no more than 30g.

High in sodium

Commercially prepared pho tends to be higher in sodium than homemade soup. A typical 100-gram bowl of pho contains about 403mg of sodium (18% of the DV) compared to the daily sodium allowance of 2,300mg.

Thai Beef Noodle Soup vs. Pho

This table shares the differences between Thai beef noodle soup and pho.

ProductPhoThai beef noodle soup
OriginVietnamese cuisineThai cuisine
IngredientsBroth-based noodle soup, which is made from beef or chicken bones and herbsA stir-fried noodle dish often made with eggs, chicken, or pork
TasteHas a mild flavor with a balance of sweet and smoky flavors from roasted beef bones and spices such as star aniseHas a blend of sweet, salty, and sour from tamarind paste and palm sugar
Calories (per 100g)8834
Net carbs (per 100g)9.81g3.28g
Fiber (per 100g)0.6g0.3g
Protein (per 100g)6.15g1.93g
Total fats (per 100g)2.26g1.23g
Sugar (per 100g)0.77g1.03g
Sodium (per 100g)403g325g
Cholesterol (per 100g)12mg2mg

Source: Beef Noodle Soup

Healthy Pho Soup Recipe

A hearty bowl of soup is great for a cold evening. Try out this simple recipe at home.

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs chicken or beef bones (tofu for vegans)
  • 1 lb beef brisket
  • 5 ginger roots, halved
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 yellow onion, halved
  • 2 gal of water
  • 1 tbsp sugar (granulated)
  • Salt to taste

Spices

  • 7 star anise
  • 4 cardamom pods
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 whole garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  2. Sauté the onions and ginger in a skillet until browned, about 15–20 minutes.
  3. Place the beef bones in a large pot of water and bring to a boil. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the bones and transfer to the cilantro. Rinse and discard the water. Return to a clean pot.
  5. Toast the cloves, star anise, cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds, fennel, and cardamom pods in a skillet over medium heat to release the aroma. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.
  6. Add the onion, ginger, and spice mixture to the saucepan. Add 2 gallons of water and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for about 1–3 hours. Halfway through the cooking time, add salt, sugar, and fish sauce.
  7. Remove from the heat when the broth has been reduced by half, and the meat is tender.
  8. You can refrigerate the soup for up to 5 days or freeze it in an airtight container for up to 5 months.

For more healthy recipes, do check out these 11 best nutrition apps. These apps contain a variety of recipes for breakfast, snacks, lunch, and dinner. You will also get access to meal plans and workout trackers to help you achieve your weight loss goals. 

FAQs

How many calories are in a bowl of pho?

Pho is low in calories, as one cup (100g) serving contains only 88 calories. The number of calories may vary depending on the type of noodles, broth, and toppings used.

Is pho good for an upset stomach?

This noodle soup is gentle on the stomach, has soothing properties, and can help with stomach pain. However, reduce spices that upset the stomach, such as chili peppers.

Is pho good for weight loss?

This Vietnamese soup can be part of a weight loss diet because it is low in calories (88g). However, we would suggest reducing the number of rice noodles in the soup as this can increase the calorie and carbohydrate content.

Is pho soup gluten-free?

The soup is a good option for people on a gluten-free diet. Since it uses rice noodles and other ingredients, it does not cause food allergies.

How many carbs are in pho?

The carbohydrates in this noodle soup come mostly from rice noodles, and trace amounts from vegetables. A 100-gram serving of pho contains 9.81g of net carbohydrates.

A Word From a Nutritionist

Some variations of pho can be high in sodium and saturated fat, especially those made with fatty cuts of meat. Always pay attention to the broth you use, choose low-sodium broths, and use lean cuts of meat. Consuming too much sodium can have negative health effects, such as raising blood pressure, which can increase the risk of heart disease.

Whenever possible, make soup at home, as store-bought soup can be high in sodium. To make pho healthier, use vegetable-based broth or low-sodium bone broth to reduce your sodium intake. Then serve with a variety of vegetables to increase the fiber content.

You can always modify it to make it vegan by using vegetable broth and tofu instead of beef and chicken.

Overall, pho is a satisfying and nutritious addition to the diet when made with nutritious ingredients.

Conclusion

Pho is a hearty and healing soup made with bone broth, rice noodles, and herbs. 

So, is pho healthy? We could say yes, the Vietnamese soup is nutrient-dense and offers several health benefits, such as promoting joint and digestive health. However, it is low in fiber and can be high in sodium, depending on the ingredients used.

Overall, pho is a healthy addition to the diet when consumed in moderation.

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
The article was fact checked by Edna Skopljak, MD
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HR_author_photo_Edibel
Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
HR_author_photo_Edna
Fact checked by Edna Skopljak, MD
Last update: June 22, 2023
6 min read 930 Views 0 Comments
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