Starting off your meal with a bowl of vegetable soup can give your health a boost, as long as you serve the right one. Vegetable soup can help fill you up without a lot of calories and meet your recommended vegetable intake of 2 to 3 cups per day, but some versions of this soup are also loaded with sodium, which can have an adverse effect on your blood pressure, so choose wisely.
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Rich in Essential Nutrients
Consuming plenty of vegetables may help you lower your risk for cancer, high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease and type-2 diabetes due to their high nutrient content, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Low-sodium versions of chunky canned ready-to-serve vegetable soup provide about 23 percent of the daily value for potassium, 52 percent of the DV for vitamin A, 14 percent of the DV for riboflavin and 10 percent of the DV for fiber. Potassium helps counteract the increase in blood pressure caused by high sodium intakes, and vitamin A is essential for healthy vision and immune function. You need riboflavin to produce red blood cells, and fiber improves digestive function and lowers your cholesterol.
Helps Maintain a Healthy Weight
Foods that are low in energy density, or calories per gram, help fill you up without a lot of calories, making it easier for you to maintain a healthy weight or lose weight because you can eat a greater volume of food without going over your daily calorie budget. A study published in "Appetite" in November 2007 found that eating broth-based soup before meals, including both pureed and chunky versions, helped people eat up to 20 percent less during the meal. Regularly consuming soup may also increase your blood levels of leptin, a hormone that regulates fat storage in your body, according to another study published in the same journal in June 2010. This may help explain why people who eat soup regularly tend to weigh less.
Choosing a Nutritious Vegetable Soup
Avoid canned soups that are high in fat or sodium. "Fitness" magazine recommends choosing canned soups that contain less than 3 grams of fat and 360 grams of sodium and more than 10 percent of the DV for fiber. Soups that contain beans tend to be among the more nutritious options, while creamy soups tend to be higher in fat and calories.
Making Your Vegetable Soup Healthier
If you make your own soup, you can control the ingredients. Use just a small amount of oil to saute your onions, opt for low-sodium broth and use beans or another lean protein source along with your favorite vegetables. Season the soup with spices, such as garlic, parsley, oregano or basil, instead of salt. If you prefer creamy soups, include potatoes in your soup and puree part of the soup to thicken it instead of adding cream. Should you opt for canned soups, you can always add more vegetables to the soup to increase the fiber and nutrients it contains.