Eat Soup to Lose Weight

by Joel Fuhrman, M.D., Wellness Contributor

Why Sunday is Definitely Soup Night
In my house, Sunday is Soup Day. Almost every Sunday I make a huge pot of vegetable bean soup. It is a convenient way to do two important things: make sure that I have a reliable meal on weeknights when I am tired after working all day, and it ensures that the quick, handy meal that I am relying on is nutritious and filling. I use that soup for several days to limit my cooking chores. Soups are great because they can be served as part of a meal or as its centerpiece. They keep great in the fridge for days (in fact they often taste better the second or third day when the flavors have time to blend) and they freeze well, too. And since they are cooked in bulk, they provide several days’ worth of leftovers, convenient to have on hand or to pack to take along to work or school. They are perfect for those who dread cooking or are just too busy to cook a meal each night. Just heat and eat.

Eat Soup to Lose Weight
Soups, along with salads, are essential to my Nutritarian diet. Eating like a Nutritarian is the healthiest style of eating and it can also help you achieve the greatest weight-loss benefits. That’s because the Nutritarian diet makes it almost impossible to become overweight because you eat to satisfy true hunger, not addictive cravings. The foods in a Nutritarian diet can be eaten in bountiful quantities because they are rich in nutrients, yet low in calories. For busy people, a Nutritarian diet can be predominantly a vegetable and bean soup and salad diet. Soups, along with stews, are healthy, flavorful and easy-to-prepare. Best of all they don’t leave you hungry.

As a weight-loss strategy, eating soup helps by slowing your rate of eating and reducing your appetite by filling your stomach. Scientific studies show a linear relationship between soup consumption and successful weight loss. 1

Why Soup is Special
Soup is super healthy. Since soups are gently cooked with a liquid base, nutrients are retained and some are made more absorbable. Many nutrients, like B vitamins, niacin, folate, and a range of minerals, are water soluble. Normally, with water-based cooking, like boiling, water-soluble nutrients are leached into the cooking water and discarded. However, with soups, the liquid and the water-soluble nutrients are retained and consumed.

Additionally, soup is easy to digest. Cooking soup heats, moisturizes, and softens vegetables and beans, which dramatically increases the potential digestibility and absorption of the nutritious compounds contained within them. Recent studies confirm that the body absorbs more of the beneficial anti-cancer compounds, carotenoids in particular, especially lutein and lycopene, from cooked vegetables as compared to raw vegetables. Scientists speculate that the increase in absorption of these antioxidants after cooking may be attributed to the destruction of the cell matrix or connective bands to which these compounds are bound.

How to Make Great Soups
Be wary of commercially-available canned soup as they are often high in sodium. For superior nutrition, make your own soup using some of what I refer to as G-BOMBS, superfoods like greens, beans, onions, and mushrooms. These are the most nutritious foods on the planet. Start your soup with a base of water and add the dried beans (they take the longest to cook).  Then prepare your fresh vegetable juice like carrot, celery or tomato juice or no-salt added vegetable broth . Then blend some onions or leeks, leafy greens, with some of the broth and add to the soup.  Then prepare the chopped veggies you choose, such as parsnips and mushrooms.  Then, season with herbs or spices, such as dill, rosemary, parsley, black pepper or lemon. For creamier soups, blend some nuts in the mix. Vegetable soups can keep up to days in the refrigerator or longer in the freezer. Soups on!

1. Flood JE, Rolls BJ. Soup preloads in a variety of forms reduce meal energy intake.  Appetite.   2007 Nov;49(3):626-34;  Jordan HA, Levitz LS, Utgoff KL, et al. Role of food characteristics in behavioral change and weight loss.  J AM Diet Assoc.   1981;79:24;  Foreyt JP, Reeves RS, Darnell LS, et al. Soup consumption as a behavioral weight-loss strategy. J Am Diet Assoc. 1986;86:524-26.

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