I’ve used Better Than Bouillon for years, and I can tell you it is delicious and convenient. It lasts a long time in the fridge, and everyone seems to love the taste. But how does it compare to other broth options as far as nutrition? Is Better Than Bouillon healthy?
Better Than Bouillon contains real vegetables and healthy spices like turmeric. However, it also has several highly processed ingredients like soybean oil, sugar, and maltodextrin. Better Than Bouillon also has up to 700mg of sodium per serving. This makes it only moderately healthy.
Below, I’ll take a look at several flavors of Better Than Bouillon—including their Organic and Reduced Sodium offerings. I’ll cover sodium, sugar, and MSG in detail. I’ll also share which flavors are vegan, along with two alternative options for healthy broth!
Is Better Than Bouillon Good for You?
Here are the five questions I’ll be answering about Better Than Bouillon. Click any of them to skip ahead to that section—or just keep reading to learn it all:
- What Ingredients Are in Better Than Bouillon?
- Is Better Than Bouillon High in Sodium?
- Does Better Than Bouillon Have Sugar?
- Does Better Than Bouillon Have MSG?
- Is Better Than Bouillon Vegan?
1. What Ingredients Are in Better Than Bouillon?
Let’s start by looking the ingredients for 3 different Better Than Bouillon products. This way, we can check the organic line, the reduced sodium line, and the normal “premium” line.
Below the table, I’ll share my takeaway observations:
|Better Than Bouillon Flavor||Ingredients|
|Roasted Chicken Base||Roasted Chicken, Salt, Sugar, Corn Syrup Solids, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Dried Whey (Milk), Flavoring, Food Starch, Disodium Inosinate And Disodium Guanylate, Turmeric.|
|Seasoned Vegetable Base||Vegetables And Concentrated Vegetable Juices (Carrot, Celery, Onion, Tomato, Dehydrated Onion, Dehydrated Potato, Dehydrated Garlic), Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Salt, Yeast Extract, Sugar, Maltodextrin, Soybean Oil, Spice Extractive.|
|Organic Mushroom Base||Organic Mushrooms, Salt, Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Maltodextrin, Organic Onion Powder, Organic Soybean Oil, Organic Garlic Powder, Organic Food Starch, Organic Natural Butter Flavor (From Milk), Natural Flavor.|
|Roasted Beef Base (Reduced Sodium)||Roasted Beef With Concentrated Beef Stock, Yeast Extract, Salt, Sugar, Maltodextrin, Barley Malt Extract (Gluten), Flavoring, Potato Flour.|
Here’s what I notice from these ingredients:
- Most flavors of Better Than Bouillon have real vegetables. These include superfood veggies like garlic, onion, and mushroom. Usually the veggies have been dehydrated or juiced—but it’s fair to expect that some amount of their health benefits remain.
- Some flavors of Better Than Bouillon have turmeric and other spices. Spices like turmeric can be powerful sources of antioxidants. Turmeric is especially known for its anti-inflammatory, potentially anti-cancer properties. (source)
- Better Than Bouillon has added sugar. All four flavors have “sugar” (or “organic cane sugar”). Below, we’ll look at the amount of sugar and whether it’s anything to worry about.
- Better Than Bouillon has maltodextrin and corn syrup solids. These two are especially highly processed carbs, high on the glycemic index. Some flavors also have potato starch, food starch, and similar ingredients. We’ll cover more about the carb content of Better Than Bouillon below.
- Some flavors of Better Than Bouillon have soybean oil. Soybean oil is not the greatest—it’s a processed oil, high in omega-6 fat. Most Western diets already have too much omega-6, so this ingredient could potentially be inflammatory.
- Some flavors of Better Than Bouillon contain dairy ingredients. These include whey and natural butter flavor. If you’re vegan or dairy free, several flavors of Better Than Bouillon will be off the menu for you.
Overall, there are quite a few processed ingredients in Better Than Bouillon. But some of these are honestly only included in very small amounts. So let’s move on to looking at some actual numbers. We’ll start with sodium!
2. Is Better Than Bouillon High in Sodium?
Better Than Bouillon has around 640mg to 700mg of sodium per teaspoon (makes one cup of broth). This is about average when compared to other popular broth products. The Reduced Sodium flavors of Better Than Bouillon still have around 500mg to 510mg of sodium per teaspoon.
Soup can be such a healthy food, but it often comes with high sodium. That’s especially true of canned soup—but any soup broth can end up being very salty.
Here is the sodium content for six flavors of Better Than Bouillon:
|Better Than Bouillon Flavor||Serving Size (Makes)||Sodium|
|Roasted Chicken Base||1 cup||680mg|
|Seasoned Vegetable Base||1 cup||700mg|
|Organic Mushroom Base||1 cup||640mg|
|Roasted Beef Base (Reduced Sodium)||1 cup||510mg|
|Roasted Chicken Base (Reduced Sodium)||1 cup||500mg|
|Seasoned Vegetable Base (Reduced Sodium)||1 cup||500mg|
I was surprised that the “Reduced Sodium” flavors of Better Than Bouillon are not that much lower in sodium than the other flavors. They still have 500+ mg of sodium per cup of broth they make.
Better Than Bouillon marketing states, “Better Than Bouillon bases have 1/3 less salt than ordinary bouillons.” But I’m not sure I believe that… They seem to have about average sodium content compared to the other products I know of.
To illustrate the point, below are just a random sampling of other popular broth products I found on Amazon. As you can see, the sodium levels vary a lot, between ~100mg and ~1,000mg per cup of broth:
|Competitor Broth Products||Serving Size (Makes)||Sodium|
|Pacific Foods: Organic Low Sodium Vegetable Broth||1 cup||120mg|
|Imagine: Organic Low Sodium Vegetable Broth||1 cup||140mg|
|Kitchen Accomplice: Vegan No-Bone Broth||1 cup||410mg|
|Bare Bones: Bone Broth Instant Beverage Mix||1 cup||460mg|
|Pacific Foods: Organic Vegetable Broth||1 cup||540mg|
|Orrington Farms: Vegan Chicken Broth Base||1 cup||760mg|
|Edward & Sons: Garden Veggie Bouillon Cubes||1 cup||970mg|
As you can see, there are several “Low Sodium” options on the market that are much lower in sodium (120mg) than the “Reduced Sodium” line from Better Than Bouillon (500mg). You can even find “unsalted” broth options, if you want to really cut the sodium.
3. Does Better Than Bouillon Have Sugar?
Most flavors of Better Than Bouillon have 2 grams or less of total carbohydrates, and 1 gram or less of sugar per serving. Although Better Than Bouillon contains processed carbs like sugar and maltodextrin, these ingredients are not present in high quantities.
Below is a chart of the carb content and sugar content in four Better Than Bouillon flavors:
|Better Than Bouillon Flavor||Serving Size (Makes)||Total Carbs||Sugar|
|Roasted Chicken Base||1 cup||2g||1g|
|Seasoned Vegetable Base||1 cup||1g||1g|
|Organic Mushroom Base||1 cup||2g||<1g|
|Roasted Beef Base (Reduced Sodium)||1 cup||2g||<1g|
When I looked through the ingredients of Better Than Bouillon, I took note of various processed carbs: Sugar, maltodextrin, corn syrup solids, food starch, and potato starch.
But in my view, none of these ingredients are really that bad if you’re only getting like 1 gram per serving. Processed carbs really become harmful when you’re eating them as a major part of your diet. (source)
So, personally, I wouldn’t worry too much about the sugar and carbs in Better Than Bouillon. They don’t amount to much. The sodium would be a bigger concern to me than the sugar.
4. Does Better Than Bouillon Have MSG?
Better Than Bouillon does not have added MSG. Some food bloggers argue that Better Than Bouillon contains MSG under other names, such as “hydrolyzed soy protein.” But even this should not be a concern, as the scientific consensus is that MSG is harmless.
If you dig into the details of monosodium glutamate (MSG) and its history, you’ll find there’s not much to substantiate the fears people have. You’ll mostly find anecdotal reports of headaches or numbness, which haven’t held up in scientific studies.
Many foods naturally contain glutamate, including the breast milk we drink as babies. And research has repeatedly shown it to have no ill effects. (source)
Alex Renton, writing for The Guardian, summed it up like this: “[E]very concerned public body that ever investigated [MSG] has given it a clean bill of health.”
If you want to read more about the safety of MSG, check out this article from the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, which has been cited in other peer-reviewed journals dozens of times since its publication.
5. Is Better Than Bouillon Vegan?
Better Than Bouillon comes in six vegan flavors: Seasoned Vegetable, Organic Seasoned Vegetable, Roasted Garlic, Sautéed Onion, No Chicken, and No Beef. All other flavors contain meat, dairy, or other animal ingredients.
Alternative Options for Healthy Broth
If you’re not concerned too much with your sodium intake, I think Better Than Bouillon is a decently healthy and convenient option. I’ve personally used it for many homemade soups that I would consider healthy.
But if you need to really cut your sodium intake—or if you feel extra picky about sugar, oil, or MSG—there are options that are even healthier.
The first option would be to make your own broth. This will allow you to use any mix of ingredients you want. It’s really not that hard, and there are many guides you can follow online.
Another good option would be finding an “unsalted” broth. These products often eliminate nearly all the sodium. And then you can add whatever else you want from there to bring the taste up to your standards.
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