Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Are Soups Healthy?

As we all know, the first dish of a meal is the most important one. Even today, with all the debates going on about right and wrong food, nobody doubts the good effects of soups in our body. Hot soup in particular has numerous health benefits.

Soup is made by boiling ingredients in water or broth until the ingredients become tender and the flavor is extracted. Drinking this liquid, the body can then absorb and assimilate these nutrients quickly without having to digest and break down the meat and vegetables. It is an ideal way to obtain loads of nutrients minus the calories!

A big advantage of soup is that it can be made from almost anything and that too in minutes. Thus, making soup is a good way to get rid of leftovers. You can toss nearly any kind of meat or vegetable into a pot of boiling water along with some onions, sliced potatoes, add some salt and pepper; and in 30 minutes or less you will have a nice pot of soup. Another advantage of soup is that it does not require a sense of timing. Once it is made, it can set on the stove for hours to be devoured at any time. For those of us who are continuous eaters, this is a great advantage.

Soups have many health benefits like:

  • They are the most nutritive method of consuming vegetables because the vitamins and nutrients in the soup are retained unlike the overcooked vegetables.
  • Soups are excellent for many diseases like asthma, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and many others. The reason being that the soup are packed with the nutrients of the vegetable plus while making the soup we also tend to add ginger, garlic, black pepper which are responsible for making the mucus and phlegm thinner and hence it can be easily coughed/drained away. The antioxidants present in vegetables and garlic are excellent for decreasing the high cholesterol levels. Diabetics would also benefit from drinking soup as the high antioxidant content of soups helps rectify the damage by the high blood sugar levels.
  • Soups are filling and very low calorie, therefore they are great for someone trying to decrease the quantity of food.
  • Soups are a great substitute to excessive tea/coffee and now many companies offer soups in the workplace besides the coffee/tea vending machines.
  • Kids often enjoy soups and it is far tastier than cooked vegetables.

Different ingredients used to make soups determine what the soup can do for the body. Some good soups include:

  • Onion soup: Good for clotting disorders.
  • Spinach soup: Prevents anemia.
  • Lentil soup: Great for growing children.
  • Mixed vegetable soup with chicken: A complete and nutritious meal.
  • Cabbage soups: Great to lose those extra pounds.

The list is endless and open to creativity...

Points to keep in mind while making soups:

  • Do not add milk or cream to the soup, not only does it add calories to the soup but even more important is the fact that it binds and locks the vitamins in the soup which are then not available to the body.
  • Avoid adding cornflour or maida (plain white flour) to the soup because it prevents the decongestant benefits of soups.
  • Do not always have packet soups because only the fresh soups have the antioxidant properties.
  • Add herbs like coriander, lemon grass, ginger, garlic etc as they add to the healing properties of the soup.
  • To make the soup a complete meal you can add chicken, vegetables, tofu or boiled and mashed mung dal (green gram) or channa dal (skinless black chickpeas) OR you can also make lentil soup.

Take soup to drink away the problems. Preparation of soup can be carried out at home as well. It is better than going to restaurant. Methods of preparation can be obtained from kitchen booklets available in the market or by surfing on the internet. You can even switch on to cookery show in TV. Many people believe in blind faith that having soup actually doesn't yield any good to health. Throw away this belief and drink soup.

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