In the wintertime, a warm bowl of soup often hits the spot. Many of us consider soup to be “comfort food”, whether chicken noodle, chili or your grandmother’s favorite stew.
While comforting in the cold months, due to its warm temperature, soup actually has the potential to deliver so much more. So aside from comfort, what are the health benefits of soup that pain sufferers and really anyone can gain from adding more soup to their diet?
Fighting a cold
Eating chicken noodle soup when you have a cold is not something simply done to warm you up. Scientific research shows that chicken noodle soup does provide a medical benefit when you have a cold. One of the largest studies found that soup inhibited the movement of neutrophils, the most common type of white blood cell that defends against infection. The conclusion was that by keeping these infection-fighting cells from moving away, chicken soup helped reduce upper respiratory cold symptoms.
In general, the ingredients in chicken noodle soup provide the body with a boost of vitamin A, selenium and other antioxidants. Warm liquids in general, are helpful for hydration, the thinning of mucus and the clearing of nasal passages.
Vitamin and vegetable intake
Many of us are looking for ways to get more vegetables into our diet – and the vitamins they provide. Soup makes this easy. You can add just about any vegetable to a soup recipe, including any leftovers from a previous meal. Even leafy vegetables that are a great source of fiber, such as kale and spinach, can be added to soup. Vegetables can also be pureed and added to soup to create a creamier version without the extra fat.
Another thing you may not have thought about is that soups retain the vitamins and minerals of cooked vegetables, unlike other cooking methods. This is because you don’t dispose of the water when you’re done; instead, the vitamin-packed water becomes a part of the broth you enjoy in the soup.
Immunity and Healing
Who doesn’t want to boost their immune system? Or improve healing within their body, whether they are a chronic pain sufferer or not? Soup with the right ingredients, eaten regularly, can provide boost to your immune system and work as an anti-inflammatory.
Ingredients matter. Here are a few that have great benefits:
- Cabbage can increase your body’s ability to fight infection.
- Ginger supports healthy digestion.
- Seaweed cleanses the body.
- Shiitake mushrooms increases your immune function.
- Sweet potatoes provide beta-carotene for eye health.
Weight loss and weight management
Soups lend themselves to a low-fat and high fiber meal option. The liquid and amount of vegetables typically found in soup recipes mean that if you’re counting calories or simply trying to keep your weight at a healthy level, soup can be a great choice. Avoid cream-based soups, add plenty of beans, lean meats and veggies and you’ll have a very healthy meal to incorporate into your diet or weight management plan.
How to choose the best soups
As mentioned earlier, cream-based soups often have too much fat and none of the great health benefits you may be seeking. So, stick with broth-based soups and include lean meats, vegetables, beans, some pasta and the spices that are known for some medicinal properties, such as Turmeric. Canned soups are not as healthy as home-made. Use some of your weekend time to plan ahead with soup for the week, and don’t forget that most soups freeze well and can easily be reheated – making a convenient, weeknight meal.
There are endless great soup recipes! We’d like to shine a spotlight on one called Nonna’s Italian Style Chicken Soup from 4 Sons R Us. It’s a quick and easy soup with a rich flavor that tastes like Grandma slaved away all day making it. Check out the recipe and the story of how an Italian-American boy looked forward to visiting his Italian immigrant grandparents and getting this soup from his Nonna. Recipe and story here >>>
As well, here are a few recipe resources you may enjoy: