Why you should eat soup this winter...

The chilly weather makes you want to pile on layers and sit down with a hot meal. But winter foods are often in the “comfort” variety, which can mean they’re high in calories and unhealthy ingredients.    Soup doesn’t have to fall into that category, however. Soup has a surprising number of health benefits if you prepare it correctly.

Seasonal weight gain varies from person to person, but certain phenomena during winter tend to tip the scales in a less desirable direction for most.  While the cold weather makes you want to bundle up and eat a warm meal, winter foods are often “comfort foods”, which can be high in calories and unhealthy.

Soup is a great way to stay warm, reduce calories and maintain nutritional intake during the winter months.  Soup has many health benefits if you prepare it correctly.

Immune Boost

Soups can support your immune system when you’ve been cooped up indoors during the winter. Protein and vegetable stock contain vitamins and minerals, which are useful against common ailments like the common cold, which may help the body repair itself.

More so, bone broth is a superfood that can strengthen your immune system and be incorporated into various dishes. Bone broth contains essential nutrients that help your immune system to function properly. Bone broth has several essential amino acids which aid the immune system.

 Increase the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI)

The RDI amounts differ by age, gender and life stage. The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend at least two serves of fruit and five servings of vegetables per day excluding starchy vegetables

Fruit and vegetable soups (hot /cold) can fill part of your daily serving and boost your health through vitamins, fibre, and support anti-inflammatory properties.  

The best way to get all of the vitamins, minerals and nutrients you need is to eat the average RDI and include a  variety of colourful fruits and veggies. You can choose to include these by chopping them up for a chunkier soup or by blending them together for a creamy smooth texture.  

Benefits of cooked vegetables

While it’s great to eat some veggies raw to preserve their vitamin and mineral content, cooking certain vegetables can also reveal an added benefit. In some cases, cooking vegetables can help our bodies better absorb the nutrients in vegetables.

Tomatoes, Carrots, Cabbage, and Potatoes are some of the vegetables you can benefit from cooking.  

A great example of this is lycopene — a type of carotenoid — found in tomatoes.

Carotenoids, an important form of phytonutrient found in most vegetables, have been associated with a decreased risk of lifestyle diseases such as heart disease and certain types of cancer

Extra Hydration

During the colder months, dehydration actually increases because people don’t feel as thirsty, and many forget to drink enough water. Additionally, cold air requires our bodies to work harder to stay warm, causing sweat to evaporate more rapidly.  If you’re not paying attention your body can become dehydrated which can cause harmful consequences. 

You can replenish your fluid levels by drinking water, decaffeinated green tea or by eating foods that have high water content.  Soup is one food that contains a high amount of water and helps your body retain water.

Broth-based soups contain sodium which can cause your body to hold water longer. This can lead to better hydration without constantly drinking water.  A broth-based dish can be enhanced by adding dumplings, protein, or vegetables.

Source of Protein

Nutritional proteins are essential to a healthy diet, as they assist your body in growing, repairing, and functioning normally. 

Proteins are made up of chemical building blocks called amino acids, which build and repair muscles and bones and to make hormones and enzymes. In addition to providing essential nutrients for bones, skin, and blood, proteins are also used as an energy source by the body. 

Adding protein to soup leads to increased meal satisfaction, especially when combined with carbohydrates and healthy fats.

For meat eaters, protein is straightforward, but vegetable lovers can also benefit from protein-rich soups. Plant-based proteins such as lentils, chickpeas, and black beans are an excellent way to add protein, fibre, and texture to round out a satisfying soup. Many leafy greens like spinach have a surprising amount of protein in them.


Warm up cold and flu season

Scratchy throat, cold chills, runny nose? Soup, particularly chicken soup, has been an age-old recommendation for colds. While studies are unclear on chicken soup’s benefits for colds, there is some evidence that it has medicinal properties. Hot chicken soup can increase the flow of mucus and clear nasal passages better than plain hot water.

Chicken broth is said to help control inflammation. The spices and temperature of the soup also help sinuses, and soup is considered comfort food for many people when they’re under the weather.


Keeps you full

Soup can keep hunger at bay longer than an unblended meal because of how your stomach digests food and water. A hormone called ghrelin lets your body know when the stomach is empty, but when you eat blended foods like soup, this process slows down. Essentially, your appetite responds to a full stomach and soup achieves that.

According to some studies, those who eat soup can stay full for up to an hour and a half longer than those who eat solid foods.