There’s a lot to be said about the comfort a bowl of soup offers, especially during the winter season. But if you think of soup as just a starter to your meal instead of being a central and key position-holder in your daily diet with nutritional and health benefits, then you are wrong.
“Soups keep you warm, activate the feeding centre in your brain, boost your metabolism, help with weight loss and boost your immunity,” says Akanksha Mishra, a Nutrition and Wellness Expert associated with myUpchar.
“You can choose your soup as per your requirements. For example, to increase your appetite, have lemon and coriander soup. For a starter or snacking purpose, you can have minestrone or chicken soup and for immunity boosting purposes, you can have garlic and basil tomato soup. Some soups like the Tibetan thukpa can be both nutritious and a full meal by themselves. But whatever you do, try to add one soup daily to your diet to keep yourself warm and healthy during this winter,” Mishra said.
Benefits of drinking more soup
Over the years, many studies have shown that adding soups of all kinds — whether they are made with vegetables, chicken, bones or ingredients like miso (a Japanese seasoning prepared by fermenting soybeans, which are extremely nutritious) — to your diet can be extremely beneficial. A study published in Physiology & Behavior in October 2020 reveals that there is a significant inverse correlation between soup consumption and obesity, meaning that the higher your soup consumption, the lower the odds of you suffering from obesity.
This link between soup consumption and low risk of obesity may be due to the fact that soups are satiating and can keep you feeling full for a longer period of time. A study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2013 tested the satiety and glycaemic response after the consumption of a solid meal, chunky soup and smooth soup and found that participants were fuller after having smooth soup compared to those who had a solid meal. This is because soup consumption was found to be linked to delayed gastric emptying, quick access and absorption of nutrients and greater glycaemic response.
The fact that soups facilitate the absorption of nutrients faster and more easily also makes this type of food one of the best ways of boosting your immune system and benefitting every organ in the body. The benefits of soup often depend on the ingredients used, which is why many studies highlight some essential soup ingredients like chicken. A May 2020 study published in the journal Chest highlights that chicken soup has an antineutrophil effect, which helps reduce inflammation and manage symptoms of viral infections like the flu and common cold.
This study even goes on to suggest that chicken soup should be given to patients recovering from COVID-19 . Such antiviral and anti-inflammatory benefits apart, a 2020 study in Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine also underlines the fact that soup consumption increases sympathetic nerve activity of the central nervous system, which in turn helps lower blood pressure and heart rate. This study maintains that soup consumption is great for those at risk of hypertension, heart disease and chronic inflammatory diseases.
Health risks of buying readymade soups
But simply because soup is good for your health doesn’t mean you should stock up on readymade soup packets.
“Instant or packaged soups are definitely a quick solution but you can get a lot of health-related complications if you have them regularly,” Mishra explains.
“Because of the presence of preservatives and taste enhancers, you can experience an overdose of sodium, which can lead to water retention, elevated blood pressure and kidney-related problems. These soups also have emulsified fat powders, trans fats, sugar, guar gum, starch and other chemical preservatives which pose even greater threats to your health. Fat powders and sugar are especially linked with obesity and heart disease. Often, these soups contain corn starch, which leads to increased blood sugar and weight gain. Try to avoid packaged soups and make home-cooked soup to avoid these problems instead.”
Fresh soups made from scratch aren’t that difficult to rustle up in any case. All you need to do is roughly chop up all your favourite seasonal vegetables, from carrots and beetroots to mushrooms and spinach and cook them in a cooker with a little olive or vegetable oil, ginger, garlic, coriander stems and leaves. If you are non-vegetarian, then add chicken with bone or just soup bones to this mix. Add salt, pepper and water and cook the entire mix for two whistles.
Once everything is cooked, remove the bones from the watery mix and have the soup as it is or, better still, just blend the entire mix once it cools down. Adjust the salt and pepper but avoid adding fresh cream, cornflour or any refined or rich thickening agent. You can even make a large batch of this soup and freeze it for daily consumption but since making soup is really easy, it’s best to make a fresh batch for consumption whenever you need it.
For more information, read our article on Bone broth benefits.
Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.