Many processed foods, including soups, are very high in sodium, which is something we should all be mindful of in our diet. The Dietary Guidelines recommend keeping daily sodium intake under 1,500-2,300mg.
More than 80% sodium in the average American diet comes from processed foods. When deciphering a nutrition label, keep in mind that anything containing 480mg (20%DV) or more of sodium per serving is considered high in sodium.
As we take a look at the different soup options available to us, notice the serving size of most cans of soup. Most cans of soup are two servings, meaning everything on the nutrition label would be doubled if the entire can is eaten in one sitting. Many of the soup options heavily exceed the cut off for being a high sodium food, so doubling it can bring this number up to staggering heights. Even many of the on-the-go soups that can be put directly into the microwave contain two servings. When picking out soups, the lower the sodium, the better.
Let’s turn our focus to calories. In general, we want to get a high amount of protein and fiber, which help to keep us fuller longer, for fewer calories. We especially want to keep the calories low if the soup is being consumed only as a part of the meal, and not the entire meal. Generally, cream based soups will be higher in fat and calories, while broth based soups will generally be lower in calories. Look for broth or vegetable based soups with plenty of vegetables and beans for a higher protein and fiber content.
Chili doesn’t always come to mind when we think of soups, but can be a good option. Chili is high in protein and fiber (from the meat and bean content), but most of the canned chili found in stores is extremely high in sodium. We did find Amy’s Kitchen Lower in Sodium Chili to be a good choice, but had trouble finding many others. This may be something you are better off making on your own and controlling what goes into it.
Dry Bean Soup Mixtures
There are numerous dry bean soup mixtures, which are all good sources of protein and fiber, while being pretty low in sodium. The nice thing about making your own soups is that you can control what goes into it. Instead of using so much sodium, herbs and sodium free spices can be used for flavor. Also, if broths are used, low sodium versions can replace the higher sodium alternatives. To further reduce sodium, pureed vegetable based soups are a great option. Soups and stews can be thickened with beans, potatoes or other vegetables instead of heavy cream, which can help trim down the calories.
While making your own soup may be time consuming, it is overwhelmingly cost efficient. Homemade soups can be made in large batches and frozen in single servings until ready for use as a healthier alternative to canned soups.
For more tips on making healthy soups and stews at home, visit this website.
Some examples of healthier soup options:
**Remember, always read the nutrition label
Hopefully this will help you: “Shop well, and eat well.