‘Tis the season... for chicken soup?! That’s right—whether you’re feeling under the weather or simply craving the soothing concoction, chicken soup may be your perfect solution! But ever wonder just how nutritious this comfort food really is? Let’s take a closer look at its ingredients.
Especially when it comes to treating a cold or the flu, hydration is imperative. Staying hydrated is a daily necessity, as water and other fluids keep all systems in your body functioning properly. They carry nutrients and oxygen to your cells, aid digestion, prevent constipation, normalize blood pressure, regulate body temperature, and maintain electrolyte (sodium) balance, to name a few.
Chicken broth, a clear liquid, counts towards your hydration goals. Nutritionally, it’s rich in essential fatty acids and protein. Essential fatty acids, which the body cannot make on its own and which must come from the foods we eat, are a source of energy and major components of cell membrane structure. Proteins, often called the body’s building blocks, are used to build and repair tissues and help fight infection.
Chicken broth is also a rich source of minerals, including iron. Your body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body, and myoglobin, a protein that supplies oxygen to muscles. Your body also needs iron to produce certain hormones.
Selenium is another nutrient found in chicken broth. Selenium is an essential component of various enzymes and proteins that help make DNA and protect against cell damage and infections.
Probably the most popular of all white meats, chicken is an excellent source of lean, low-fat protein that contributes to muscle growth and development, and bone health. Chicken can also help support a healthy body weight as well as weight loss.
In terms of vitamins, chicken contains vitamin B-3 (also known as niacin), which helps keep your nervous system, digestive system and skin healthy, and vitamin B-6, which is important for normal brain development and for keeping your nervous system and immune system healthy. Eating poultry also adds selenium to your diet; the trace mineral that is also found in chicken broth.
Like turkey, chicken is high in tryptophan, an essential amino acid that helps your body produce serotonin, the key hormone that stabilizes your mood, feelings of well-being and happiness.
The best chicken soup recipes are chock-full of veggies like carrots, celery and onions—all of which are rich in vitamins C and K, not to mention other antioxidants and minerals.
Vitamin C is a nutrient your body needs to form blood vessels, cartilage, muscle and collagen in your bones. It plays a role in controlling infections and healing wounds, and is a powerful antioxidant that can neutralize harmful free radicals. Vitamin K helps produce certain proteins needed for blood clotting and building bones. Beta-carotene, found in carrots, is converted by the body into vitamin A, which is necessary for healthy eyes and skin.
Chicken soup wouldn’t be the same without the noodles! These hearty strands are packed with carbohydrates—an important energy source that helps fuel your brain, kidneys, heart muscles and central nervous system.
Carbohydrates provide the body with glucose, which is converted to energy used to support bodily functions and physical activity. Of course, carbohydrate quality is important—if you’re making chicken soup from scratch, choose whole-grain noodles over white pasta.
While obviously not an ingredient, the steam from hot chicken soup can help increase blood flow and decrease the nasal congestion often experienced from a cold or the flu. So, while it won’t cure your infection, it may help you breathe easier. Steam also has a mild anti-inflammatory effect that can help relax your muscles and soothe the coughs and discomforts associated with cold and flu symptoms.
Knowing the nutrients behind the foods we eat is essential for ensuring our bodies are getting we what need to stay healthy. Mom’s Meals offers menus for people with chronic conditions as well as selections for maintaining general health. No matter what you choose, our meals incorporate only the highest quality ingredients and include a complete listing of ingredients and nutritional information.