Chicken Soup During Pregnancy: Safety and Benefits

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Written by Gina Wagg BA, Dip.

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Chicken soup is so good and effective, it’s almost legendary. But is it good for pregnant women?

Chicken soup is great for pregnancy because it is nutrient-dense. It is rich in protein, amino acids, B vitamins, vitamin C, fiber, and more. The hot broth can also help alleviate nausea.

While chicken soup is thought of as a delicious remedy, should you worry about any other factors? We’ll answer all your questions below!

The Benefits of Chicken Soup During Pregnancy

Chicken soup is the dish of choice when someone isn’t feeling well. That’s because chicken soup is, in a sense, wellness in a bowl.

Chicken soup contains chicken, broth, and vegetables. Other recipes call for rice, pasta, noodles, tortillas, or Matzah balls. It’s inviting and delicious and will warm you up the right way. 

Aside from being warm, nutritious, and filling, it can also help chase the flu or colds away when you are not feeling well, whether pregnant or not. Chicken soup is rich in amino acids, protein, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K, and fiber (source: WebMD).

During pregnancy, amino acids and proteins are crucial for the growth of maternal tissues and increased blood volume. Remember, all your body’s processes are heightened during pregnancy to accommodate the fetus.

Amino acids and protein are equally as vital for the growth and development of the baby (source: Nutrition During Pregnancy). 

Chicken soup with noodles and vegetables in white bowl

When carbohydrates, protein, and fat are metabolized, B vitamins help release the energy they provide. During pregnancy, the mother’s body needs more B vitamins because of greater energy requirements, especially during the third trimester.

Vitamin C is helpful during pregnancy because it helps build collagen. It is also a powerful antioxidant that fights off oxidative stress. which is linked to complications such as pre-term birth and preeclampsia (source: Nutrients).

Fiber can help lower the risk of constipation, pre-eclampsia, and glucose intolerance. It can also diversify your intestinal microbiome and help your baby achieve good gestational weight (source: Nutrients).

Chicken soup also helps with nausea that is caused by a cold or a congested nose. The hot chicken broth helps increase nasal mucus velocity and manage infections in the upper respiratory tract (source: Chest). This means it helps relieve the congestion in your nose and improves your breathing. 

Is Chicken Soup Always Pregnancy-Safe?

While chicken soup has an excellent nutritional profile and is a great help for recovery from colds, congestion, or flu, some versions are definitely better than others.

If we compare homemade with canned chicken soup, the obvious better choice would be homemade. This is because commercial chicken soups contain significantly high levels of sodium.

A chicken broth from a commercial chicken soup could contain 924 mg of sodium per cup. That’s about 40% of the total daily limit for sodium in a day (source: USDA). 

Too much salt in the daily diet not only affects the mother by inducing hypertension and negatively affecting kidney functions, but it can also affect the baby’s kidneys and overall renal functions (source: The Journal of Endocrinology).

The chicken must also be cooked well, or at least reach the safe internal temperature of 165 °F (73.9 °C) (source: USDA). This ensures that no disease-causing bacteria can survive. 

Vegetables should be washed thoroughly before cutting and cooking. If you want to add noodles, we advise you to not use Asian noodles, which are often salted. Pasta or rice would be better.

Can I Have Chinese Chicken Soup When Pregnant?

It is safe to eat Chinese chicken soup during pregnancy, but it would be best to make this soup at home. If you order at a restaurant, ask if they add MSG or any forms of added glutamate, if they use salted noodles, and if they use fresh or canned sweet corn.

You will double your sodium intake if you eat noodles already flavored with salt and if the soup has added MSG or glutamate. Most Chinese dishes do, as it provides the signature umami taste. 

Ask the same questions if you order takeout. We also recommend reheating the soup if it is no longer hot or warm when you receive it. The key is to reheat it, not cook it again, so the ingredients don’t turn into mush. 

black chicken soup in a stainless bowl

Is Black Chicken Soup Good for Pregnancy?

In Asia, black chicken soup is popular. The black chicken breed prevalent in China is called Silkie chicken, while in India it’s called Kadaknath. 

Silkie chickens are thought to have a unique flavor and more nutrients such as protein, fat, B vitamins, iron, phosphorus, and calcium, as well as more antioxidants than regular chicken (source: Ser Seng).

These claims have yet to be proven, but studies do suggest Kadaknath chicken is a good dietary source of antioxidants (source: Scientific Reports).

Black chicken soup, in general, is safe for pregnancy as long as it is cooked well and is not too high in salt or fat.

With proper preparation, chicken soup is a great pregnancy meal!