You can easily make homemade soup to warm you up during the colder months. Or eat it just to help fill you up before your main meal so you don't consume too many calories.
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Most homemade soup recipes start with broth, such as vegetable broth. Although the store-bought version is the most convenient, vegetable broth nutrition is often really high in sodium, so you might be better off making your own at home.
Read more: Bone Soup Nutrition
Vegetable Broth Calories and Macros
Vegetable broth doesn't contain many calories. A 1-cup serving only provides 10 calories, all of which come from the 3 grams of carbohydrates it contains, according to USDA FoodData Central.
Other types of broth have similar calorie counts, chicken broth calories clock in at 5 calories per 1 cup serving, and each cup of beef broth provides 20 calories, according to USDA FoodData Central. Beef broth has the nutritional benefit of nearly 3 grams of protein per 1 cup serving, adding to its calorie count.
Vegetable broth boosts your liquid intake for the day, helping to prevent dehydration. According to the Dietitians of Canada, men should aim to drink 3 liters of fluid per day and women should target 2.2 liters — and urine should be light yellow or clear once you're well hydrated. Broth can also help replace salt and water loss after exercise.
Spare the Salt
The main drawback to store-bought vegetable broth is that it is quite high in sodium. Each cup contains 540 milligrams. Chicken and beef broth also contain sodium, with chicken broth containing 420 milligrams and beef providing 889 milligrams.
Look for a vegetable broth labeled "low sodium," as these broths can contain no more than 5 percent of the DV, or 140 milligrams of sodium per serving. According to the American Heart Association, healthy adults should consume no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day — or 1,500 milligrams if you have high blood pressure or other risk factors for heart disease.
Read more: What Are the Benefits of Chicken Broth?
Get a Few Vitamins
Although vegetable broth is made from vegetables, the end result isn't very high in vitamins. A vegetable broth benefit is small amounts of vitamin A, but it doesn't come close to the recommended daily amount according to the National Academies of Sciences.
Vitamin A is needed for healthy vision and immune function. Opting for beef or chicken broth won't increase your vitamin intake much, either since the trace amounts found are likely from the vegetables themselves.
Make a Healthier Version
Your best bet is to take any vegetables you need to use up, as well as any vegetable scraps, and make your own vegetable broth. Just make sure not to include the green leafy tops of carrots or the skins of your onions, since this can make the end result bitter.
When you make your own broth, you can greatly limit the salt you add or skip it altogether. Make sure to include onion, garlic and other herbs you like, such as parsley or thyme, to add flavor without sodium.
- American Heart Association: "How Much Sodium Should I Eat Per Day?"
- National Academies of Sciences: "Vitamins and Minerals"
- Dietitians of Canada: "Guidelines for Drinking Liquids to Stay Hydrated"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Vegetable Broth"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Chicken Broth"
- USDA FoodData Central: "Beef Broth"