Lentil soup makes for an easy lunch or soothing dinner. Luckily, it's also low in calories, making it a smart choice for your healthy diet. However, if you choose to eat canned lentil soup rather than making it yourself, be aware of the amount of sodium it contains.
Lentil soup has 159 calories per cup, according to USDA's FoodData Central, but that number will vary based on how the soup is made or what brand it is.
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Lentil Soup Calories and Nutrition
One cup of lentil soup contains 159 calories, 22 grams of carbohydrates and 4 grams of fat, according to USDA's FoodData Central. However, the canned or pre-made lentil soup calories can be much higher or much lower, depending on the brand purchased. For example, 1 cup of lentil soup from Whole Foods Market has just 100 calories, while a cup of Saor lentil soup has 350 calories.
The majority of lentil soup's calories and carbs come from the lentils themselves, which, according to USDA's FoodData Central, contain 114 calories and nearly 20 grams of carbohydrates per 100-gram serving. However, there is also plenty of plant-based protein and fiber in lentil soup, both of which are a beneficial part of a healthy diet. Like all types of legumes, or pulses, lentils are high in both nutrients, with each 100-gram serving of legumes containing 9 grams of protein and nearly 8 grams of fiber.
Protein plays a vital role in your body by providing 20 types of amino acids, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These amino acids are an essential component of every cell in your body and help to build and repair cells and body tissues, including muscles.
Fiber, on the other hand, keeps your blood sugar in check and aids in digestion. You should be eating between 20 and 30 grams of fiber each day, according to Harvard's T.H. Chan School of Public Health, but most Americans only consume about 15 grams a day. Pulses also contain B vitamins, iron, calcium, magnesium, zinc and potassium, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. They're also full of antioxidants and phytonutrients.
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Sodium in Canned Soup
When you make lentil soup yourself, you can control the amount of sodium that's added by decreasing salt in the recipe and using low-sodium broth. However, when you purchase pre-made or canned soup, it's often high in sodium. For example, lentil soup from Target has 720 milligrams of sodium per one-cup serving, according to USDA's FoodData Central.
Although some sodium is essential for your body, you should consume less than 2,300 milligrams per day, recommends the Mayo Clinic. The average person, however, consumes about 3,400 milligrams a day, often from prepared foods, and certain people are hyper-sensitive to too much salt in the diet. Too much sodium on a regular basis increases the risk for hypertension, or high blood pressure, notes the Linus Pauling Institute. Chronic hypertension also increases the likelihood of developing heart disease or having a stroke.
- USDA's FoodData Central: "Lentil Soup, Home Recipe, Canned, or Ready-to-Serve"
- USDA's FoodData Central: "Lentil Soup - Whole Foods Market"
- USDA's FoodData Central: "Lentil Soup - Saor"
- USDA's FoodData Central: "Lentils, Mature Seeds, Cooked, Boiled, with Salt"
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: "Health Benefits of Pulses"
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration: "Protein"
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Fiber"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Lentil Soup - Target Stores"
- Mayo Clinic: "Sodium: How to Tame Your Salt Habit"
- Linus Pauling Institute: "Sodium (Chloride)"