Soup! It’s what you think of when you hear the cold wind blowing outside or when you feel you’re coming down with a cold (or maybe both). The good news is soup has several benefits in addition to the fact that it has the power to warm you up on a chilly night. Read on to find out what these health benefits are!
1. It can help you pack in those extra nutrients.
Soups are a great way to pack in veggies and whole grains, even those least favourite (but healthy) vegetables. Adding small pieces and/or quantities of such vegetables to soups can improve individuals’ tolerance towards them and boost the nutrient content of your soup. Similarly, whole grains such as barley and quinoa can be added to soups to boost fibre.
In terms of children, a 2013 Dutch study indicates that toddlers that were given vegetable soup containing spinach and endives twice a week over a duration of seven weeks, tolerated vegetable containing soups in a better manner in comparison to those who weren’t. This suggests that soups may be a good way to expose fussy eaters to unpopular vegetables.
2. Heating certain vegetables makes their nutrients more available.
Some vegetables yield more absorbable nutrients when they are cooked in comparison to when they are eaten raw. For example, lycopene, the red pigment in tomatoes, becomes readily available upon being heated and therefore, allows individuals to get increased nutritional benefits. In terms of lycopene, increased availability is helpful as lycopene is a powerful antioxidant and may help in the prevention of certain cancers.
In addition to that, adding vegetables such as spinach to soups has double the benefit. This is because you are not losing any of the water-soluble vitamins that you would typically lose upon spilling the excess water after steaming or boiling the spinach....instead you enjoy the nutrient rich broth (win-win).
3. It may boost your immunity.
Research shows that chicken soup (or soup containing chicken broth) may prevent inflammatory white cells from reaching other parts of the body and therefore, may have the ability to decrease symptoms associated with colds (there is nothing I crave more when I am sick). The illness fighting abilities of chicken soup are thought to be associated with the collagen from the chicken bone broth and the release of an amino acid, called cysteine, during the cooking process.
4. Eating soup can reduce the number of calories you consume at a meal.
According to a study conducted at Penn State University, eating a low-calorie soup before having a meal (lunch entrée) reduced the total calorie intake (includes soup and entrée) of participants by approximately 20 percent. This was in comparison to individuals who did not consume soup before their meal. The study results found that low-calorie soups contributed to the “full effect” regardless of their form (pureed versus chunky). So, if you want to reduce your portion sizes during a certain meal, try having a bowl of soup first.
5. Soup (especially chicken soup) is good for the soul.
According to a 2011 study, the “comfort” associated with comfort foods, such as chicken soup, is associated with relationships and may have the power to lessen feelings such as loneliness. This is because comfort foods give rise to relationship-related thoughts and concepts.
I couldn't agree more, soup is my ultimate comfort food because I relate it to my mom and nonna's homemade cooking.
Side note: soup can also be a very economical dish as you can add many different vegetables and grains to it (and keep it vegetarian). If making chicken soup, you can opt for the less expensive pieces of meat (e.g., thighs and wings).
Here’s a quick and easy soup recipe:
Homemade Chicken Vegetable Soup
½ kg chicken (with or without bone)
4 cloves of garlic
1 medium tomato, diced
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1-2 cups mixed frozen vegetables (any kind you like) or fresh if available (e.g., carrots, celery)
1 cup button mushrooms or Portobello mushrooms
1 tbsp. corn starch or thickening agent of your choice
Hot sauce, to taste (optional)
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, minced (for garnish)
Fill a pot with 5 cups of water and add chicken, garlic cloves, tomato and salt and pepper (season to liking). Boil on high heat until approximately half (2.5 cups) of broth is left.
Remove chicken pieces/bones and garlic cloves from the broth.
Shred chicken pieces so they can be added back to the soup.
Add 1-2 cups of water (based on how much soup you intend on making), frozen vegetables, mushrooms, and shredded chicken to the broth.
Allow soup to boil on medium heat for 30 mins or until vegetables are tender.
Mix the corn starch in ¼ cup water and add to the soup. Stir and allow the soup to boil for 1-2 minutes or until desired consistency is achieved. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
Add hot sauce (to taste) and enjoy!
I hope you get to enjoy some soup during this super chilly week - stay warm!
Cheers to happy and healthy eating.
Until next time,
Eat Right Feel Right - Benish Syed and Angela Wallace
de Wild et al. (2013). Effectiveness of flavour nutrient learning and mere exposure as mechanisms to increase toddler's intake and preference for green vegetables. Appetite, 64, 89-96.Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23357431
Penn State News (2010). Eating soup will help cut calories at meal. Retrieved from: http://news.psu.edu/story/196394/2007/04/25/eating-soup-will-help-cut-calories-meal
Troisi, J., & Gabriel, S. (2011). Psychological Science, 24(6), 747-743. Retrieved from: http://www.uoguelph.ca/~naseem/SONA/Psychological%20Science%202011%20Troisi.pdf
Wertz, K. (2009). Lycopene effects contributing to prostate health. Nutrition and Cancer, 61(6), 775-783.