Is Pho Healthy?
Is the sky blue? Do fish live in water?? Does the week have seven days??? We kid, we kid. But in all seriousness, this is one of the most common questions people ask. And here’s the short answer: yes! People have enjoyed this staple of Vietnamese cuisine for hundreds of years. And at its core, pho contains all the components your body needs: healthy carbohydrates, protein, and fat.
Of course, as with any food, there is no shortage of ways to dial-up (or down) how healthy a bowl of pho is. And that takes us to the long answer, which is actually quite interesting. Let’s dig into a few of those different components of pho (some of which are traditional to Vietnamese cuisine, some of which are new) so you can create just what your body (and mind) requires.
It all starts with the broth. Traditional broth is typically beef broth, although that’s changing. You can now pick from veggie, chicken, mushroom, garlic…the list goes on. Beef broth is typically higher in fat, but also offers some unique nutrients that are hard to get elsewhere. Some spices in pho broth can have anti-inflammatory properties. And let’s not forget about how comforted and good it makes you feel. If you happen to have the sniffles, you can throw in a little ginger into the broth as well.
A typical bowl of pho with chicken or beef added contains roughly half of the recommended amount of protein per day for most people. Not only is it delicious, but that protein serves as essential building blocks for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. And if meat isn’t your thing, throw in some extra-firm tofu or an egg. In fact, throw in that egg either way.
Oh, toppings! How we love you! Because you can throw nearly anything into a bowl of pho (in fact, we encourage it), this is probably the largest area for dialing in which health benefits your pho delivers. We’re big fans of adding big florets of broccoli for calcium and iron and spinach for Vitamin A and Vitamin C. Think of it as a choose-your-own-adventure food, and play the game as you see fit!