Chicken stock is a liquid used to make soups or add flavor to roasts and vegetables during cooking. One prepares chicken stock by boiling a whole chicken or chicken parts with selected herbs, vegetables, salt and pepper. Low-sodium chicken stock is a healthier alternative to regular chicken stock. This type of chicken stock has 6 percent or less of the U.S. government’s recommended daily adult sodium intake.
Based on a standard 2,000-calorie diet, the U.S. government recommends a daily total of less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium intake from all sources for healthy adults. A low-sodium food has less than 140 milligrams of sodium per standard serving. Very-low-sodium products have 35 mg or less per standard serving.
Convenient to use, chicken stock is often available in cans or tetra packs. Depending on the brand, commercial versions of regular chicken stock can have an unhealthy amount of sodium in each serving. On average, retail versions have more than 30 percent of the recommended daily sodium intake for adults in 1 cup (250 milliliters), the standard serving. Reduced-sodium versions have less sodium than the manufacturer normally uses in a product or less sodium than competing brands. Fat-free versions often have a higher sodium content to counteract the flavor loss from the fat reduction.
Before purchasing a low-sodium chicken stock, one should compare the serving size and sodium content to government guidelines. To avoid confusing the different versions of chicken stock, one can review the nutrition label on product packages. The U.S. government’s labeling laws, for example, require that food manufacturers provide details on the amount of sodium in products. These laws also prohibit packaging displays that imply that a product meets the government’s definition of low sodium when it doesn't.
Making homemade chicken stock allows one to be certain that the sodium content meets guidelines for low-sodium products. The principal ingredient in low-sodium chicken stock is chicken. Like most proteins, a chicken contains a small amount of natural sodium, but not enough to push the content of a homemade stock to a level above government guidelines.
Controlling additions to homemade chicken stocks allows one to make flavorful low-sodium chicken stock. Carrots, celery, onions, pepper and herbs are the basic components of an artfully seasoned homemade low-sodium chicken stock. Instead of salt, one can add sage, thyme, marjoram or other herbs that complement poultry. The judicious use of garlic and lemon juice helps to offset the lack of salt in a low-sodium chicken stock recipe.