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The 5 Healthiest Soups – Smart Options

Dr. Kristie Leong

It can be a challenge to eat healthy in a world so full of high calorie indulgences. With a fast food restaurant on every corner and a cookie stand at every mall, it's not surprising that the rate of obesity in this country is skyrocketing. It pays to be knowledgeable about what goes into the food you eat both at home and when you eat out. If you're trying to watch your calorie intake, starting out with a bowl of soup can be a smart choice. A study recently showed that those who begin a meal with a bowl of soup usually eat fewer overall calories than those who don't. Why? Because soup is a high volume food that's filling and satisfying. Unfortunately, not all soups are low in fat and calories, particularly the cream based ones which can be off the scale in terms of fat content. If you're looking for some good soup choices that you can enjoy before a meal without guilt, here are some of the healthiest soup options.

Minestrone soup

This Mediterranean soup is commonly found on the menu at Italian restaurants and is a great start to a meal. You'll be less likely to indulge in the heavy pasta dishes and high calorie desserts if you've warmed your stomach with a hot bowl of minestrone soup beforehand. This soup is usually tomato based and has lots of heart healthy lycopenes, antioxidant rich vegetables, and fiber rich beans. To reduce the calories even more, ask for the soup to be light on the pasta or make it yourself and use more beans and less pasta.

Black bean soup

Black beans get their dark color from the numerous antioxidants they contain. In general, the darker the bean, the higher the flavonoid content which makes black beans one of the best sources of cell protecting antioxidants. Black bean soup is also high in fiber and protein which means it's quite filling and satisfying. It's a healthy way to start a meal at a Mexican or Brazilian restaurant.

Miso soup

The next time you're at a Japanese or Chinese restaurant, don't eat a thing until you've savored an entire bowl of miso soup. This soup made of fermented soy paste helps to strengthen the immune system and maintain a healthy digestive tract by adding friendly gut bacteria that aid digestion. Plus, it's very low in calories. It may even protect against cancer. A small study showed that women who ate two or more bowls of miso soup daily had a lower risk of breast cancer.

Old-fashioned vegetable

Who can argue with a soup that gives you a rainbow of vegetables in every bowl? Vegetable soup is usually tomato based which means lots of lycopenes to help promote a healthy heart and prostate. One tip? It's best to make your own old-fashioned vegetable soup since canned vegetable soups are high in sodium and may contain added sugar.

Tomato soup

This is another soup that's loaded with lycopenes and usually low in calories and fat. Be careful if you order it at a restaurant. Some restaurants add butter, cream, or sugar to tomato soup to enhance the taste appeal. Stay away from tomato bisque with its added cream and high fat content.

Yes, soup really is good food. One word of warning. Many canned soups and soups served in restaurants are high in sodium. If possible, make soup at home in a crockpot and freeze the leftovers. That way you can have hot and healthy soup even when you're pressed for time. 

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