Adobo: Nutritional Value, Calories, and Health Benefits


What is Adobo?

Adobo, a beloved Philippine dish known for its savory and tangy flavors, is not only delicious but also offers some nutritional benefits. Adobo is a savory and tangy dish typically made with meat (such as chicken or pork), marinated in a mixture of vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, and black peppercorns. The meat is then simmered until tender in this flavorful marinade. Adobo is a staple in Filipino cuisine and is loved by many for its rich and satisfying taste. This article explores the nutritional value of Adobo, its calorie content, and its potential health benefits.

Adobo: Nutritional Value

The nutritional content of Adobo can vary depending on the type of meat used (chicken, pork, or beef) and the specific ingredients and cooking methods employed. Here’s a general breakdown of the nutritional components of a typical Adobo dish:

  1. Protein: Adobo is a good source of protein, thanks to the meat (usually chicken or pork). Protein is essential for muscle growth and repair.
  2. Fats: Depending on the cut of meat and how it’s prepared, Adobo can contain varying amounts of fat. While fat adds flavor, lean cuts of meat trim excess fat to make the dish healthier.
  3. Carbohydrates: Adobo typically contains very few carbohydrates, as it’s primarily a meat-based dish. The carbohydrates present are mainly from the use of soy sauce and potentially some vegetables.
  4. Vitamins and Minerals: Adobo includes ingredients like garlic, which is a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, vitamin B6, and manganese. The use of bay leaves and black peppercorns also adds flavor and small amounts of nutrients.
  5. Sodium: One potential concern with Adobo is its sodium content due to the use of soy sauce. High sodium intake can contribute to high blood pressure, but you can use reduced-sodium soy sauce or control the amount of soy sauce added.

Adobo Calories

The calorie content of Adobo varies based on the type and quantity of meat used, as well as the cooking method employed. On average, a serving of chicken Adobo contains around 250-300 calories, while pork Adobo can have slightly more, around 300-350 calories per serving. Beef Adobo tends to be higher in calories, with approximately 350-400 calories per serving. A standard serving of Adobo is generally estimated to be around 3 to 4 ounces (85 to 113 grams) of cooked meat per person. This portion size is similar to what you might find in a typical restaurant or household serving in the Philippines.

These calorie counts are estimates and can vary significantly based on factors like portion size and added fats.

Adobo Health Benefits

While Adobo can be delicious and nutritious, consider some health-conscious choices when preparing and consuming it:

  1. Protein Source: Adobo provides a good source of protein, which is essential for building and repairing tissues, making it a valuable addition to a balanced diet.
  2. Garlic Benefits: Garlic, a key ingredient in Adobo, has been associated with various health benefits, including potential immune-boosting and heart-healthy properties.
  3. Control Sodium Intake: Be mindful of the sodium content in Adobo, primarily from soy sauce. High sodium intake can lead to hypertension, so opting for reduced-sodium soy sauce and using it sparingly can help.
  4. Leaner Meat Choices: Choose lean cuts of meat or trim excess fat to reduce the overall fat content of the dish.

Which individuals should avoid eating Adobo?

Adobo is a popular Filipino dish enjoyed by many, but there are certain individuals who should consider limitations or modifications to their consumption of Adobo based on specific dietary or health concerns. Here are some groups of people who may need to exercise caution or make adjustments when it comes to eating Adobo:

  1. People with Hypertension or High Blood Pressure: Adobo can be relatively high in sodium due to the use of soy sauce. Excess sodium intake can contribute to high blood pressure or exacerbate existing hypertension. Individuals in this group should choose reduced-sodium soy sauce or consume Adobo in moderation.
  2. Those with Sodium Sensitivity: Some individuals are more sensitive to sodium’s effects, and even moderate sodium intake can affect their blood pressure. These individuals should avoid consuming dishes like Adobo that contain soy sauce.
  3. Individuals with Cardiovascular Conditions: If you have heart disease or other cardiovascular conditions, it’s wise to monitor your sodium intake. High sodium levels can strain the heart and worsen cardiac health.
  4. People on Low-Sodium Diets: Those prescribed a low-sodium diet by a healthcare professional should be particularly mindful of the sodium content in Adobo. It may be necessary to prepare a homemade version with reduced-sodium soy sauce or other low-sodium alternatives.
  5. People with Soy Allergies: Soy sauce is a common ingredient in Adobo, and some individuals have soy allergies. Use a soy sauce substitute or omit soy sauce altogether from the recipe.
  6. Vegetarians and Vegans: Traditional Adobo recipes use meat, but there are vegetarian and vegan versions available that use plant-based protein sources like tofu or seitan. Individuals following vegetarian or vegan diets should seek out these alternatives.
  7. People with Dietary Restrictions: Individuals with specific dietary restrictions, such as those with gluten intolerance or celiac disease, should be cautious about the type of soy sauce used in Adobo, as some soy sauces contain gluten. Gluten-free soy sauce can be used as a substitute.
  8. Those with Food Allergies or Sensitivities: Individuals with allergies or sensitivities to ingredients commonly found in Adobo, such as garlic, should take care to adjust the recipe to meet their dietary needs or avoid it altogether.
  9. Individuals with Gout: Adobo typically contains meat, which can be high in purines. People with gout, a condition related to purine metabolism, may want to limit their consumption of meat-based dishes like Adobo.
  10. People with Diabetes: While Adobo is relatively low in carbohydrates, individuals with diabetes should be mindful of portion sizes to manage their blood sugar levels. Opting for leaner cuts of meat can also be a good choice.

Bottom Line

Adobo is a delicious Filipino dish with nutritional value, primarily as a source of protein and essential vitamins and minerals. However, be aware of portion sizes, the type of meat used, and the sodium content to enjoy the dish as part of a balanced and healthy diet. With mindful choices, Adobo can be both a flavorful meal and a nutritious addition to your culinary repertoire.

How can I contact gastroenterologist Dr. Zavos for an appointment?

Dr. Chris Zavos is a board-certified gastroenterologist and hepatologist, located in Thessaloniki Greece, and specifically in Kalamaria suburb, about 7 kilometres (4 miles) southeast of downtown Thessaloniki. His private office is at: Fanariou 8 street (near Aigaiou and Adrianoupoleos avenues), Kalamaria (Thessaloniki), Greece.

Thessaloniki International Airport is only 10 km away from his private office in Kalamaria and can be reached by taxi within 13 minutes from the airport.

Dr. Chris Zavos performs endoscopies at Bioclinic private hospital in downtown Thessaloniki (Mitropoleos 86 street).

You can contact Dr. Zavos at phone numbers: (+30)-6976596988 and (+30)-2311283833, or you can email him at Dr. Zavos responds to Greek and English languages.

Last update: 26 September 2023, 19:07


Gastroenterologist - Hepatologist, Thessaloniki

PhD at Medical School, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

PGDip at Universitair Medisch Centrum Utrecht, The Netherlands

Ex President, Hellenic H. pylori & Microbiota Study Group