Who can resist the warmth of a warm bowl of soup on a cold winter’s day? But the benefits of soup go beyond its temperature. If you choose the right soup, its health benefits are innumerable.
In a small study published in the journal “Physiology and Behavior,” eating soups led to reductions in hunger and an increased sense of feeling full when compared to solid foods with the same calorie content. And the participants’ daily calorie intake tended to be lower on days the subjects ate soup. Any nutrient-dense food that increases satiety, that is, the feeling of fullness, is a smart addition to a healthy meal plan, and foods high in fiber also help foster weight loss.
In another study published in the journal “Obesity,” subjects who ate two low calorie servings of soup a day lost 50 percent more weight than participants who ate the same calories in a snack food. Again, this was thought to be because of the fact that soup is filling.
Soup also increases the ability to meet recommended daily vegetable consumption and improves an individual’s overall nutritional intake. Starting a meal with a low calorie, nutrient-dense soup decreases calorie intake from other high calorie foods. Homemade soups allow you to be creative, and they are lower in sodium than canned soups. It is a great place to sneak in beans, peas and other legumes for added nutrition, protein and fiber.
Many soups also freeze well, so a large pot of soup can provide healthy, ready-made meals when you don’t have the time to cook. It’s also a relatively inexpensive meal choice and often uses lean proteins. And even though our grandmothers simmered their homemade chicken soup all day, there are many soup recipes that are ready in under an hour.
Are you ready to get started? When choosing soup recipes, choose those that are broth based. Cream soups are high in fat and tend to be lower in nutritious vegetables. Feel free to modify ingredients and use what you have available in the fridge or freezer, which helps reduce food waste.
And, don’t forget, soups are great throughout the year! Consider cold soups in the warmer months.
Barb Walsh, R.D., is the community nutrition educator in the Tevis Center for Wellness.