In the ever-evolving landscape of dietary trends and wellness pursuits, certain culinary classics have stood the test of time, proving that healthful eating need not sacrifice flavor. Among these steadfast contenders are soups and stews, celebrated for their versatility, comforting warmth, and an impressive array of health benefits. As we continue to journey through these colder months, it makes sense that we crave hearty stews and cozy soups. But there’s more to these simmering concoctions than meets the eye – they are, in fact, a wholesome treasure trove of nutrients that cater to both body and soul.
More Than an Old Wive’s Tale: Soups and Stews Have Powerful Health Benefits
Do you remember when you were a child and, at the first sign of a cough or a sneeze, your mom might have whipped up her traditional chicken noodle soup? It turns out there’s more to this practice than simply creating a comforting meal for sick children.
“Anyone who’s had a bowl of chicken soup when they’re sick knows the broth is something special — and people as far back as ancient times knew it, too,” explains Mashed. “Chinese medical texts from more than 2,000 years ago declare chicken soup to be warming and therapeutic, and the Greek physician Galen claimed the broth could cure a variety of diseases. […] As it turns out, this isn’t just an old wives’ tale — a good chicken soup recipe can actually help you fight off those nasty colds.”
That includes a groundbreaking research study conducted by the University of Nebraska. In the study, where researchers used a traditional chicken noodle soup recipe, the study found that soup helped support the health and stamina of neutrophils (white blood cells), helping activate them and keeping them active longer. Put simply, drinking chicken soup helped people’s immune system better respond to infections.
But that’s not all.
1. Nutritional Benefits of Soups and Stews
Soups and stews serve as a canvas for a diverse array of nutrient-dense ingredients. From vibrant vegetables to lean proteins, whole grains, and legumes, these concoctions can be packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants essential for optimal health. The simmering process allows the flavors to meld, creating a rich and satisfying broth that carries the nutritional goodness of each component.
2. Soups and Stews Provide a Hydration Boost
Research shows that hydration is a key part of your immune response, and dehydration compromises your immunity.
Soups and stews — by their very nature — have a high water content, aiding in hydration. Proper hydration is crucial for various bodily functions, including digestion, nutrient absorption, and temperature regulation. Enjoying a bowl of soup can contribute to your daily fluid intake, especially beneficial for those who may struggle to meet their hydration needs through plain water alone.
3. Weight Management Benefits of Soups and Stews
The high water content and fiber in soups and stews contribute to a feeling of fullness, promoting satiety. This can be advantageous for those aiming to manage their weight as it helps control overall calorie intake. Additionally, research suggests that incorporating soups into meals can lead to lower calorie consumption without sacrificing satisfaction.
4. Enhanced Digestive Health When You Enjoy Soups and Stews
The slow and gentle cooking process of soups and stews can break down tough fibers in ingredients, making them easier to digest. Moreover, the warmth of these dishes can have a soothing effect on the digestive system. Ingredients like bone broth, commonly used in soups, contain gelatin, which may support gut health by promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria.
Finally, there are the obvious immune benefits that we discussed. Soups and stews often feature immune-boosting ingredients such as garlic, onions, and various herbs and spices. These components can contribute to a robust immune system, helping the body defend itself against common illnesses. The warmth of the soup can also provide relief to a congested nose and throat during cold and flu seasons.
Packed with nutrients, supportive of hydration, and versatile in their composition, these culinary creations stand as a testament to the harmonious fusion of taste and wellness. The next time you feel January’s chill and you start to crave a bowl of soup or stew, know that you’re not just treating your taste buds but also nourishing your body from within.