How healthy is chicken noodle soup?
You may recall a loved one making you a bowl of chicken noodle soup whenever you were feeling under the weather; however, just how healthy is this culinary cure-all? “Studies have shown that a hearty bowl of chicken noodle soup may help clear nasal congestion and ease cold symptoms. It’s all about the ingredients,” said Sandy Allonen, RD and clinical dietician at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre (BIDMC).
When fighting a cold, it is important to stay hydrated. A clear vegetable or chicken broth can be warm and soothing, providing a good source of hydration while soothing a sore throat. “You may think added salt and other seasonings aren’t great for you, but in moderation, these spices can help combat the feeling of dull taste buds. A loss of taste is common in a cold, but as with any flavour enhancer, salt is great for getting you to eat more,” Allonen said.
Allonen notes, however, that if doctors have recommended a low sodium intake (for hypertension, kidney disease, congestive heart failure or another medical condition), then patients may want to find a broth that is low in sodium or has no added salt.
Chicken is full of protein that helps support the immune system. It also contains vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins, which boost immunity and help regulate digestion.
“Chicken is also high in tryptophan, which helps your body produce serotonin that can enhance your mood and give you the feeling of ‘comfort’ that helps make chicken noodle soup a true comfort food,” Allonen said.
The noodles in chicken noodle soup contain carbohydrates, which can help you feel full and satisfied. “Carbs are the preferred source of energy for your body, so getting in a good dose through soup can help you feel less sluggish,” Allonen said.
The carrots, celery and onions commonly found in chicken noodle soup provide vitamins C and K, as well as other antioxidants and minerals. Vegetables like carrots are also high in beta-carotene, and can help reduce symptoms due to their anti-inflammatory properties. “Not only does this help build a healthy immune system to fight off viruses, it also helps your body recover from illness more quickly,” Allonen said.
While steam isn’t a traditional ingredient in chicken noodle soup, it is important to serve the soup warm, as the hot steam coming from the soup can help reduce nasal congestion. “Steam can open up airways, making it easier to breathe. It also has a mild anti-inflammatory effect that can help relax your muscles and soothe the discomforts of cold symptoms,” Allonen said.
While chicken noodle soup is not a cure for colds, it is a delicious way to provide nutrients for your body and increase hydration. Make an appointment with your primary care physician if you are feeling under the weather this winter.
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