Many classic British food products are pretty divisive, and we've written guides about lots of them, for example, Twiglets.
Bovril is one such classic British food product which divides opinion - this beef drink is often served at football games to help keep punters warm during the halftime break. Personally, we love the meaty, warm taste of Bovril, but we'll admit that we know very little about what Bovril is made from and how healthy it is.
So we thought it would be interesting and useful to take a close look at Bovril to see how healthy it is and what it's actually made from. Let's get into it:
What is Bovril made from?
Despite the beefy taste of Bovril, we have to admit that we expected the product to not actually contain any real beef, but we were wrong. In fact, Bovril contains 50% beef broth, and beef broth is actually the number one ingredient listed. And although "beef broth" sounds quite vague, it is usefully outlined on the back of the Bovril packet that beef broth is simply beef bones and water. The next ingredient listed is yeast extract, which is 27% of what you'll find in Bovril. This makes sense to us as yeast extract is basically just Marmite, and both Marmite and Bovril are owned by Unilever.
Despite being impressed that around 77% of what you'll find in Bovril basically consists of water, beef bones, and Marmite, we are a little frustrated to see some artificial ingredients, including ammonia caramel for colour and disodium guanylate for flavour.
What are the nutritional statistics of Bovril?
Bovril is essentially just a beef stock, and many people will simply prepare a normal beef stock cube or sachet in boiling water as an alternative to Bovril, so it's quite useful to compare Bovril to beef stock products when trying to determine how healthy it is.
Bovril contains 252 calories per 100g when unprepared, which is actually quite high compared to other beef stock products. For example, the Knorr Beef Stock Pots contain just 90 calories per 100g when unprepared, almost a third of what you'll find in the same amount of Bovril. Bovril is also higher in sugar compared to the Knorr Beef Stock Pots (1.4g per 100g versus 0.5g per 100g respectively), but it's the salt content which is really alarming to us - Bovril contains 11.3g of salt per 100g unprepared, whereas the Knorr Beef Stock Pots contain just 0.86g of salt per 100g unprepared.
Now, we would caveat this by making it clear that this isn't a like-for-like comparison, because Bovril is much richer in taste than Knorr Beef Stock Pots in our opinion. However, we wouldn't have expected Bovril to contain more than 11 times the salt that you'd find in Knorr Beef Stock Pots, and having made a drink using the Knorr Beef Stock Pots, we actually think they make for quite a good low salt alternative to Bovril.
So, is Bovril healthy?
So although we're impressed that Bovril contains mostly natural ingredients and is made using real beef broth, we're disappointed to see the very high salt content when compared to other beef stock products.
Hopefully, this guide helps you to decide how healthy Bovril is. Let us know if you've tried this product or if you have any other similar products you'd like us to take a look at.