Friday, February 22, 2013

Not all soups are created equal: go for the good ones

Even though spring is just around the corner -- thank goodness! -- we still have some cold weather around.  In the U.S., soup consumption peaks in January and February. But not all soups are created equal. Canned or packaged soups can be problematic due to high fat and sodium content, so be selective in the soup aisle. (And then there's the issue of BPA in canned foods, another potential health threat.)
Best practice when it comes to soup? Make your own. A reader sent me this link to an article "21 Blogs Featuring Soups That Will Warm Your Soul This Winter" (long title).

And here's an excerpt from "February, When Soup Consumption and Heart Awareness Converge" from the great website Natural Wellness (www.naturalwellnessonline).

Not So Heart Healthy Soups

Unfortunately, many soups have surprisingly high levels of sodium, fat and sugar.
Salt is one of the biggest problems faced by consumers of canned soup. Even soup labeled as low sodium may not be low enough. A popular brand of reduced-sodium soups lists their sodium content as 470 mg per serving. Since many of us consume at least two servings at a time, that is over 900 mg for a bowl of soup! This sodium total is more than half of the U.S. dietary guidelines of 1,500 mg per day for those with heart disease.
Many upscale restaurants add cream or bacon to their soups in an effort to produce a creamy texture or rich flavor. While these additions can be sinfully delicious, they also add a sinful amount of unnecessary, artery-clogging fat to your bowl of soup.
We don’t usually think to check the sugar content of soup, but perhaps we should. A popular brand of tomato soup contains 12 grams of sugar per serving. Again, since most of us consume at least two servings at a time, that is equivalent to 24 grams of sugar in a bowl of soup. To put that into perspective, there are 24 grams of sugar in a package of two Twix cookie bars.

Heart Healthy Soups

Even though manufacturers and chefs often add sugar, fat and salt to boost soup’s palatability and longevity, they are not necessary for tasty creations. Thankfully, it’s easy to make soups that are heart-healthy: full of vegetables, low in fat, low in sodium and low in sugar. There are plenty of delicious soup recipes that focus only on healthful ingredients. Some ideas include:

  • Carrot ginger soup
  • Roasted butternut squash soup
  • Vegetable bean soup
  • Black bean soup
  • Minestrone
  • Lentil soup
  • Vegan potato leek soup
  • Thai seafood soup
  • Mushroom barley soup
  • Chicken soup with wild rice
  • Borscht
  • Curried pumpkin soup
  • Vegan cream of broccoli
  • Tomato soup
When made in your home, each one of these soups can be prepared with very little fat, sugar or salt. In fact, making soup is one of the easiest ways to create a heart healthy meal. As we look for ways to warm up during this frigid February, soup can provide a welcome, nourishing, comforting respite from the cold. By reading labels and/or preparing it yourself, consuming veggie-packed, low sodium, low sugar soup is the perfect way to practice heart health awareness.

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