Dr. Becky Maes - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Becky Maes

Is Better Than Bouillon Bad For You?



Short answer

Better Than Bouillon can be a flavorful addition to meals but high in sodium, making it a less ideal choice for those with hypertension or heart conditions. MSG, present in some varieties, can cause mild symptoms in sensitive individuals, although it's usually considered safe. Artificial additives in Better Than Bouillon may be of concern especially with long-term consumption. Homemade stocks could offer a healthier alternative with more control over ingredients and sodium levels. Portion control must be practiced to maintain the healthfulness of meals.



Long answer

Sodium Content in Better Than Bouillon: Health Implications

When we're bustling around our kitchens, adding a pop of flavor to our favorite dishes, Better Than Bouillon can be a go-to for enriching taste profiles. However, one scoop of this concentrated flavor enhancer carries with it a considerable dose of sodium. Understanding the health implications of this sodium content is crucial for anyone mindful about their dietary intake.

First, let's paint a picture of the sodium content in Better Than Bouillon. One teaspoon of this product typically contains about 680 milligrams of sodium, which approximates to 28% of the recommended daily limit based on a 2,000 calorie diet, as suggested by the American Heart Association (AHA). To place this in context, the AHA recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams a day and is moving toward an ideal limit of 1,500 milligrams for most adults, especially those with hypertension or prehypertension.

Connection Between Sodium and Health Risks:

  • Hypertension: A diet high in sodium is widely recognized by health experts, including the CDC, to raise blood pressure, which is a primary risk factor for heart disease and stroke, the leading causes of death in the United States.
  • Heart Disease: Excess sodium intake can contribute to the development of atherosclerosis, a condition characterized by the hardening and narrowing of the arteries, which can lead to coronary artery disease and heart failure over time.
  • Kidney Function: High sodium levels can also strain the kidneys. These organs regulate sodium balance but can be overwhelmed by high amounts, impairing their function, which may lead to kidney disease.
  • Bone Density: Some studies suggest that high sodium intake may be associated with decreased bone density, potentially increasing the risk of osteoporosis, especially in postmenopausal women.

While Better Than Bouillon provides a burst of flavor that enhances a multitude of recipes, it's important to take into account its sodium contribution to your daily intake. Individuals with high blood pressure, kidney disease, or a history of heart issues should be particularly cautious, potentially seeking lower-sodium alternatives or using the product sparingly.

Nutritionally conscious cooks might consider the following strategies to mitigate the high sodium content in Better Than Bouillon:

  1. Using less than the recommended serving size to reduce sodium intake per dish.
  2. Diluting the concentrate with more water than usual, thereby dispersing the sodium across a greater volume.
  3. Incorporating potassium-rich foods in the dish, as potassium can help offset the effects of sodium and may help to lower blood pressure.
  4. Exploring low-sodium or sodium-free stocks and broths as alternatives for soup bases and flavor enhancers.

It's clear that monitoring sodium intake is a key aspect of maintaining a balanced diet and protecting heart health. If you're taking stock of your kitchen staples and looking for ways to cook heart-conscious, don't let Better Than Bouillon's robust flavor cloud your judgment of its sodium content.

In recent years, some health organizations have called into question the rigidity of sodium guidelines, noting individual variability in sodium sensitivity. Despite ongoing discussions, the consensus remains that moderating sodium intake is, for most people, a wise health move. As with so many ingredients, the adage "everything in moderation" seems particularly apt for Better Than Bouillon.

Remember, the goal isn't to eliminate flavor from your meals—it's to achieve a harmonious balance between tantalizing taste and nutritious, health-supporting choices. Discovering this balance allows for culinary creativity to thrive without compromising on wellness. So, let's keep stirring the pot of health-conscious cooking, while keeping a watchful eye on our sodium use—one delicious spoonful of Better Than Bouillon at a time.

Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) Presence and Controversies

Monosodium Glutamate, commonly known as MSG, is a flavor enhancer that's both loved and shrouded in controversies for its rumored effects on our health. It's no surprise that when we peek behind the kitchen counter at the ingredients in Better Than Bouillon, questions about MSG bubble to the surface.

MSG is present in many processed foods, including some varieties of Better Than Bouillon. It's added to enhance the savory taste profile, known as umami, which is considered the fifth basic taste alongside sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. The use of MSG can make dishes more appetizing and complex in flavor, and it is especially common in soups, broths, and sauces.

There is a considerable amount of debate about MSG in the health and wellness community. Critics argue that MSG can trigger headaches, allergic reactions, and other symptoms collectively referred to as "MSG symptom complex." Despite the anecdotes, numerous scientific studies have looked into these claims. A comprehensive review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has found no conclusive evidence to link MSG to allergies or chronic illness when it's consumed at typical levels. Additionally, The International Headache Society removed MSG from its list of causative factors for headaches in 2018, further quelling some concerns.

However, it's essential to note that while MSG is generally recognized as safe by the FDA, individual sensitivities can vary. Some individuals might experience temporary, mild symptoms after consuming foods with added MSG, including those who may have a greater sensitivity to glutamic acid or who consume large quantities in a single meal.

For those who are sensitive to MSG or prefer to avoid it for personal or health reasons, the following points could be helpful:

  • Check labels: Some varieties of Better Than Bouillon may contain MSG, so it's crucial to read the ingredient list carefully.
  • Consider alternatives: Opt for MSG-free versions or other broth products that promise no added MSG.
  • Home-made stock: Making broth from scratch can ensure control over what goes into your food, eliminating the presence of MSG and other additives.

Understanding MSG and its role in products like Better Than Bouillon enables informed decisions about what we serve at our tables. Whether or not MSG is harmful has not been definitively shown in scientific literature, but awareness of personal sensitivities and dietary preferences is essential for individual health and wellbeing.

Artificial Additives in Better Than Bouillon

Navigating the landscape of food flavorings can often feel like traversing through a swamp of mysterious ingredients. Better Than Bouillon, a popular concentrated flavor base used to create broths and enhance dishes, is no exception when it comes to containing additives that may leave health-conscious consumers curious—or even concerned—about their impact on health.

The idea of an appealing, rich broth that's ready in an instant definitely has its allure, but let's unpack some of the artificial additives that can be found in certain Better Than Bouillon formulations:

  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG): Frequently found in many processed foods, MSG is an additive that enhances flavor profiles. While it's generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the FDA, some studies suggest that excessive consumption may lead to side effects such as headaches and other reactions in MSG-sensitive individuals. A systematic review by the International Headache Society even lists MSG as a substance that can trigger headaches in susceptible people.
  • Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP): Often used as a savory flavor enhancer or meaty taste simulant, HVP contains naturally occurring glutamates. For those watching their sodium intake or sensitive to glutamates, understanding its presence in Better Than Bouillon is crucial.
  • Artificial Colors: Depending on the variety, some Better Than Bouillon products may contain artificial coloring agents. Consumer advocacy groups like the Center for Science in the Public Interest have raised concerns about artificial food dyes, suggesting potential links to behavioral issues in children and encouraging more research into their safety.
  • Sodium Benzoate: This preservative helps extend the shelf life of products by inhibiting the growth of bacteria, yeast, and fungi. While it is also considered safe by the FDA at certain levels, there is ongoing debate about potential health effects, particularly when combined with ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to form benzene, a known carcinogen.

Moreover, it’s important to note that Better Than Bouillon indicates that their “premium” bases contain “no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives,” which gives consumers seeking fewer artificial additives options within the brand. However, it's always a good idea to read labels closely, as formulations can differ between product varieties.

Are these additives cause for alarm? The consensus among various health organizations suggests that when consumed in moderation, such artificial additives in Better Than Bouillon are likely not harmful to the average person. Yet, for individuals with specific sensitivities, dietary restrictions, or concerns about artificial ingredients, it might be a different story.

Concerns about artificial additives are more than just about potential immediate reactions; they often revolve around the unknowns of long-term consumption and accumulative effects. A 2019 study published in the journal "Nutrients" emphasized the importance of more research into the chronic dietary exposure to food additives and potential metabolic disruption or adverse health effects.

Approaching Better Than Bouillon with a spoonful of cautious curiosity, especially as it relates to artificial additives, is always a prudent choice for those mindful of their dietary intake. As with any processed food product, striking a balance and eating a variety of whole foods is key to maintaining overall well-being.

Comparing Better Than Bouillon with Homemade Stocks

When it comes to enhancing the flavor of our meals, there's a rich world of options for creating that foundational depth we so love in soups, stews, and sauces. One such player in this culinary field is Better Than Bouillon, a concentrated paste used by many a home cook for its convenience and robust flavor. But, is it a match for the traditional, from-scratch approach of homemade stocks? Let's dive into the simmering pot and compare these two broth-building routes.

Nutritional Content: Homemade stocks are typically made from simmering bones, vegetables, and herbs for an extended period. This not only extracts a complex flavor but also nutrients from the ingredients. Mineral content such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, along with beneficial collagen, can be present in homemade stocks. The presence of these nutrients, however, can vary based on the cooking duration, ingredients used, and whether or not the bones are included.

Better Than Bouillon, on the other hand, is a commercial product and its nutritional content is more consistent. However, it often contains added salts, monosodium glutamate (MSG), and sometimes sugar or other sweeteners to enhance flavor, factors that can be controlled or eliminated in homemade stocks.

Ingredients Quality: For those who cherish artisanal and organic approaches, homemade stocks can be made with ingredients of known provenance. You can select organic vegetables, grass-fed bones, and ensure that all components are non-GMO. Better Than Bouillon does offer organic options, but the conventional versions may contain ingredients that don't meet these more holistic standards.

Sodium Levels: Sodium content is a significant difference all health-conscious cooks should be aware of. Commercial products, including Better Than Bouillon, often have high sodium levels, which could be a concern for those monitoring their salt intake. With homemade stocks, you're in full control of the amount of salt added, allowing for a much healthier preparation to suit dietary needs.

Flavor Profile: While Better Than Bouillon is loved for its rich, concentrated flavor, some chefs argue that nothing beats the subtlety and complexity of a homemade stock. One's own stock can be tailored to include a variety of vegetables, herbs, and meats, yielding a unique taste that can complement specific dishes perfectly.

Convenience: There's no doubting the convenience of Better Than Bouillon - scoopable, long shelf life, and requires no hours of preparation. Homemade stocks, while incredibly wholesome and satisfying to produce, do require a substantial investment of time and planning.

Cost Effectiveness: Financial considerations come into play as well. Homemade stocks can be remarkably cost-effective, especially when using leftover bones and vegetable scraps. While Better Than Bouillon may appear economical in the short run, especially when on sale, the cost per serving can be higher than that of a homemade stock when comparing volume to volume over time.

Ultimately, whether one opts for the convenience of Better Than Bouillon or the wholesome route of homemade stocks can depend on several factors such as time, dietary preferences, cost, and nutritional goals. As a health-conscious cook, it's valuable to understand how these choices differ and what implications they have for your overall wellness strategy.

Portion Control and Potential Health Benefits

When it comes to concentrated flavor bases like Better Than Bouillon, portion control is key. Not only does it determine the intensity of the flavor in your dish, but it also has a significant impact on the healthfulness of your meal. Let's explore how appropriate portion sizes can contribute to potential health benefits.

Firstly, Better Than Bouillon is known for its rich taste, which means a little goes a long way. The recommended serving size is typically one teaspoon (6 grams), which you mix with 8 ounces of boiling water to create a broth-like mixture. Adhering to this portion can help manage calorie and sodium intake, which is crucial for overall health.

Now, let's unpack the health benefits that can be associated with controlled portions of Better Than Bouillon:

  • Hydration: When diluted correctly, Better Than Bouillon can contribute to your daily liquid intake, aiding in hydration, especially important in soups and stews.
  • Electrolyte Balance: The sodium content, while high, may help maintain electrolyte balance in moderate amounts, particularly if you're someone who engages in a lot of physical activity and sweats extensively.
  • Amino Acids: Bouillon bases often contain amino acids from the proteins (chicken, beef, vegetable sources, etc.), which are the building blocks of our muscles and important for overall body function.
  • Antioxidants: Depending on the variety of Better Than Bouillon (especially the vegetable versions), it may include herbs and vegetables that provide antioxidants, which support immune health and may reduce inflammation.

It's also worth noting the psychological benefits of using a rich ingredient like bouillon in appropriate portions. For those managing their food intake or following specific dietary regimes, the depth of flavor can make a meal much more satisfying, thereby preventing overeating while making for a more enjoyable and sustainable eating pattern.

However, despite these benefits, one must always consider individual dietary needs. For people with hypertension or heart conditions, the sodium content warrants careful consideration and consultation with a healthcare provider to ensure it fits within their dietary requirements.

In summary, while controlled portions of Better Than Bouillon can offer some nutritional benefits and make dishes more palatable, it's essential to balance its use with awareness of one's health needs, particularly regarding sodium. Remember, moderation is the key to incorporating Better Than Bouillon into a health-conscious diet.

Frequently asked questions

Better Than Bouillon offers 'premium' bases that claim to contain no artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. Consumers concerned about artificial additives should read labels carefully to choose the options that best align with their dietary preferences and needs.

While Better Than Bouillon can add rich flavor to dishes, it should be used in moderation due to its high sodium content. To ensure a balanced diet, it's wise to pair it with plenty of whole foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, and to monitor overall daily sodium intake.

To create your own low-sodium stock, you can simmer bones, vegetables, and herbs in water for several hours, skimming off any impurities that rise to the surface. For a lower sodium content, limit or completely omit adding salt to the broth and let the natural flavors of the ingredients shine through.

Better Than Bouillon typically contains a significant amount of sodium, which may not be suitable for low-sodium diets. Those looking to reduce their sodium intake should seek lower-sodium alternatives or use the product sparingly, potentially opting for the brand's low-sodium versions if available.

Ask a question about Better Than Bouillon and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • headaches
  • allergic reactions
  • high blood pressure
  • mild symptoms in msg-sensitive individuals

Possible long-term side effects

  • hypertension
  • heart disease
  • atherosclerosis
  • strained kidneys
  • decreased bone density
  • potential metabolic disruption

Commonly found in

  • soups
  • broths
  • sauces

Ingredients to be aware of


  • hydration
  • electrolyte balance
  • amino acids
  • antioxidants

Healthier alternatives

  • less better than bouillon per serving
  • dilute concentrate
  • potassium-rich foods
  • low-sodium/no-sodium stocks
  • homemade stocks

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Rachel Adams
Published on: 01-25-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Rachel Adams
Published on: 01-25-2024

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