Is Chicken Noodle Soup Good For Weight Loss

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Is chicken noodle soup good for weight loss? Yes, but not in the way you might be thinking. A study published in JAMA ( Journal of the American Medical Association ) concluded that there was no statistical difference between people who ate a cup of chicken noodle soup and people who didn’t eat anything at all. So if you’re hoping to lose weight by drinking chicken noodle soup, it’s not going to happen. However, all is not lost – there are health benefits to this seemingly simple dish. Chicken noodle soup contains high amounts of protein, which can keep your body healthy and active. Protein is a key macronutrient that helps support muscle growth and vitality as well as aid in digestion!

Is Chicken Noodle Soup Healthy?

Chicken soup is one of our favorite foods to eat when we’re not feeling well. But was grandma right—is it actually good for you? Here we took a closer look at why a bowl of chicken soup is comforting and healthy.

It’s that time of year again. Leaves are changing, temps are dropping—snowfall is not far behind. With the changing seasons and cooler temps also comes a higher likelihood and risk of colds and flu. And with that brings up the talk of supporting healthy immunity through our lifestyle—foods, exercise and sleep—as a start to offer at least some layer of protection, so you show up ready to battle anything that comes your way.

Then specifically, from a nutrition front, there’s one dish that emerges more than any other. Chicken soup. Is it truly good for the soul or is it simply an old wives tale that’s been passed down for generations?

Let’s look at what the science says and if, yes, your mom (grandma and grandma’s grandma) were right all along. In fact, chicken soup has been “prescribed” for the common cold for centuries. Cure is probably a bit aggressive of a word, but there are some data I’ll share that at the very least makes it super healthy.

The real question starts with, “How it is made,” says John Whyte, M.D., M.P.H., Chief Medical Officer at WebMD. “The best and healthiest chicken soup is usually the one you make yourself. The key is ingredients. All the vegetables and herbs are great sources of vitamins and minerals, so that’s a huge advantage.” (Our Classic Chicken Soup recipe, pictured above, fits the bill.)

And certainly better than most canned soup options available on most grocery store shelves, which can be loaded with sodium but very little in the way of added vegetables (or flavor, for that matter). In addition to the vegetables themselves though, there’s actually some research to support the benefits of a little chicken soup.

Benefits of chicken noodle soup

Experts agree that chicken noodle soup is a well-balanced meal that not only provides hydration, but also a wide variety of nutrients.

“A good-quality chicken noodle soup is nourishing because of the bone broth, vegetables, and protein-rich meat,” says Josh Axe, DC, a certified doctor of natural medicine and clinical nutritionist. “It’s packed with a range of macro- and micronutrients, including protein, fiber, B vitamins, vitamin C, amino acids, and more. It also contains powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients.”

Research suggests that chicken noodle soup may prove particularly beneficial when you’re sick. Some chicken noodle soups contain a compound called carnosine, which a small 2012 study found can prepare the immune system to fight the early stages of flu. 

Not all chicken soups are created equal, though. The benefits of any bowl of chicken noodle soup depend on the particular recipe. Most recipes include the following ingredients — all of which have their own vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to offer:

Chicken: The amount of protein in a soup can vary greatly depending on how much chicken is added — some canned varieties, like Campbell’s Condensed Chicken Noodle Soup, contain as little as 3 grams of protein per serving. 

Protein is considered an essential nutrient for the growth and function of immune cells, which are responsible for releasing antibodies to defend you against harmful invaders like the common cold and flu.

Noodles: Carbohydrates in chicken noodle soup noodles are broken down into glucose and are the primary source of fuel used by your muscles, brain, and other organs. Hence, Chiara Jorristma, a registered dietician at Yale New Haven Hospital, says the carbohydrates in noodles can provide much-needed immediate energy for your body when it’s fighting off an infection.

There is a difference, however, between complex carbs and simple carbs. Axe notes that sprouted or whole-grain noodles have more fiber than noodles made from refined grains and can help you feel more satisfied and full. Additionally, since they take longer for your body to break down, they can deliver a more steady supply of energy without triggering a spike in blood sugar.

Broth: It’s no secret that you should drink plenty of fluids when you’re sick — and according to Jorristma, the broth can help you stay hydrated. When you’re congested, staying hydrated is particularly important because it can help to thin out mucus, thus helping to drain your sinuses more easily.

Axe says bone broth is also rich in nutrients, including collagen, gelatin, and glycine, which help to protect and nourish the gut lining, improve joint function, and regulate the immune system.

“The most beneficial soups will be made with bone broth that has a long cooking time,” he tells Insider. Axe says bone broth or stock should cook for at least four hours for maximum health benefits.

Jorge Moreno, MD, an internal medicine physician at Yale Medicine, adds that bone, chicken, and beef broth alike can be too high in sodium, so he recommends specifically seeking out a low-sodium option or diluting it with water.

Also, the steam alone from a piping hot bowl of soup may prove beneficial when you’re congested. The National Institutes of Health recommends inhaling steam two to four times a day when you’ve got a stuffy nose.

Vegetables: Vegetables contain a wide array of micronutrients, antioxidants, and fiber — all of which your body needs while it’s trying to recover from an infection. In fact, research indicates that eating a diet high in vegetables is a solid prevention strategy for fighting off illness and boosting your overall health. Here are some healthy veggies you may benefit from adding to your chicken noodle soup:

  • Onions and garlic are rich in organosulfides, which are known to stimulate the production of macrophages, a specialized type of immune cell that can detect and destroy bacteria and other harmful organisms in your body. 
  • Carrots are an excellent source of vitamin A, which plays a crucial role in the health of your heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs. Vitamin A is also needed to protect the mucous membranes, which may act as a barrier against infectious invaders. Carrots are also high in beta-carotene, which in theory could help reduce common symptoms of a cold — like a stuffy nose or sore throat — due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

A Pros & Cons List of the Chicken Noodle Soup Diet

Enjoy a bowl of soup before your meal and you may eat less.

You can lose 10 or more pounds in a week by eating soup and certain combinations of foods, claim the guidelines for the seven-day Chicken Noodle Soup Diet. Also known as the Sacred Heart Diet, the Cleveland Clinic Diet and the Spokane Heart Diet, the program may help you lose weight, but it doesn’t conform to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s recommendations for balanced, healthy eating.

It also is not endorsed by any of the medical organizations that share its name, all of which deny the claim that they developed the diet to help heart patients lose weight. Don’t start any version of the Chicken Noodle Soup Diet until you’ve spoken to your doctor.

Eating Soup Aids Weight Loss

Followers of the Chicken Noodle Soup diet eat as much of the soup as they want along with that day’s specified foods, such as bananas and skim milk on Day 4 or beef and tomatoes on Day 5. Some research, including a study presented by scientists at the Digestive Disease Week Conference in 2007, supports eating soup as a weight-control measure.

A bowl of soup, like chicken noodle soup, eaten before a meal can decrease overall food intake by 20 percent. In addition, liquid-based foods like soup may help satisfy your hunger longer than solid foods.

Quick Weight Loss Is Encouraging

According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, restrictive, low-calorie diets like the Chicken Noodle Soup Diet may help motivate overweight individuals to make the changes needed for healthy, sustainable weight loss when they experience success in just a few days.

They may also see a quick improvement in the symptoms of weight-related medical conditions like diabetes, high blood cholesterol and hypertension. The institute cautions, however, that such diets are best conducted under a doctor’s supervision and need to be replaced by a balanced diet and regular exercise to continue losing weight.

Can Lead to Yo-Yo Dieting

Unless you focus on being more physically active and limiting your fat and overall caloric intake, it’s likely that you will regain all the weight lost when your week on the Chicken Noodle Soup Diet is over, especially since most of the decrease in pounds is due to lost water or muscle, not fat.

This may lead you to begin another round of the diet or to experiment with another restrictive crash diet, a practice that may result in a cycle of yo-yo dieting. Repeatedly gaining and losing weight can impair your immune system and increase your risk of cardiovascular disease.

How to make healthy chicken noodle soup

The broth

Starting from scratch might be easier than you think. Cookbook author, Dana Angelo White, M.S., R.D., A.T.C. has a DIY-broth trick that starts with rotisserie chicken. “Making your own chicken stock is ridiculously simple. After eating a rotisserie chicken, toss the carcass in a pot with some carrots, celery, onion, garlic and herbs—add some salt and fill the pot with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer (uncovered) for about 2 to 3 hours. Strain and store in the fridge for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 3 months.” Get inspired by these healthy recipes for broth and stock.

If you’re not making broth from scratch, though, use a store-bought stock or bone broth. Try to pick one that’s lower in sodium and with a simple ingredient list (I’m partial to Pacific Foods’ Organic Free Range Chicken Broth). The best store-bought broth will be just like you would make at home but without the mess and still rich and full of flavor so it can be used as a base for your favorite chicken (or any) soup.

Add veggies

Once you’ve figured out your broth, it’s time to up the veggies. Choose nutrition powerhouses like garlic and ginger to add flavor and nutrients. Include carrots, celery, onions and handfuls of spinach or baby kale and plenty of fresh or dried herbs, like parsley and basil (and sometimes a dollop of pesto at the end). More veggies means more color, more flavor and the better for you.

Go whole grain

Growing up, my mom always served her chicken soup soup over orzo. We now opt for other, more fiber forward grains that are also rich in plenty of vitamins and minerals to add to the nutrition (and give a flavor boost to boot). And, let’s face it, fiber itself is great for gut health, which in turn is a powerful way to strengthen immunity. We love using hearty, nutty farro in place of noodles, like Bob’s Red Mill Farro, which offers 5 grams of fiber and 5 grams of protein per serving, making it a nutritional gem that helps fill us up as well. Get creative with whole-wheat pasta, quinoa, bean-based pasta, barley or wild rice.

The one time you may want to hold off on too many veggies and not use whole grains is if you need something easy to digest—like after a stomach bug or GI symptoms

Top it right

Finally, think about what you top and serve your soup with. For a protein-rich crunch try a cheese crisp, like Whisps Parmesan cheese crisps, which are made with real cheese. If you are a fan of crusty bread with your soup aim to make that whole-grain as well.

Heck, outside of all of this, even all those colorful, vitamin and mineral rich veggies and ingredients – the simple fact that soup is an easy way to add fluids to your daily routine is important and considering hydration is an important part of health and immunity, it’s another check in the win column for chicken soup!

What about store-bought soup?

Most canned and boxed soups at the store are going to be higher in sodium and lower in vegetables. Plus, you likely won’t find whole grains or a whole lot of chicken in the options you can buy. Compare labels for sodium content and read ingredient lists to find an option that feels close to homemade.

If you’re short on time, buying a quality broth and adding noodles, pre-cooked chicken and a few vegetables is a nice shortcut. Or, when you make a batch aim to freeze it so you have some on hand during busier nights.

So go ahead, make up your own pot this winter and you can be assured your chicken soup truly is good for the soul!

The chicken noodle soup diet is not sustainable

Eating chicken noodle soup and other liquid-based foods may aid weight loss and help motivate people to make better long-term diet and lifestyle changes. However, this diet is ultimately not sustainable. Since the chicken noodle soup diet is only a week long, it won’t help you lose weight over time. In fact, it may even lead to yo-yo dieting. According to Livestrong, yo-yo dieting is a term that refers to the pattern of losing weight, regaining it, and then dieting again.

Engaging in yo-yo dieting is not recommended and can even result in further health complications in the future, like an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. That’s why it’s important to talk to your doctor before starting any short-term diet plan. If you’re looking for a more efficient way to lose weight in the long term, experts recommend engaging in regular exercise and limiting your overall caloric intake by maintaining a healthy and well-balanced diet.

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