For those interested in losing or simply maintaining weight, soup should be a regular “go to” component of your diet strategy. Why? There’s something about soup that proves particularly satisfying. Women who ate either a) casserole with a glass of water or b) soup made from both the casserole and water ended up reporting less hunger and ate 80% fewer calories at a later meal when they opted for soup over the solid food plus water option. Even more intriguing is how the macronutrient make-up of that soup affects appetite. Obviously the fiber content of soups made from vegetables and even fruit can help fill you up. But what about protein — and fat?

Surprising research from the University of Texas found that when calories were held equal, fat trumped protein as the “less fattening” soup component, insofar as dieters ate less later on. The study involved 12 lean and 12 obese subjects who were served two different kinds of soup on different occasions. All the soup servings had 160 calories — but one (chicken broth and veggies) had significant fat, while the other (egg drop soup) had mostly protein. Afterwards, all volunteers were given access to an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet. The higher protein soup group ended up consuming 20% more calories than the higher fat soup group. That said, opt for healthy fat sources — olive oil, nuts, avocado (think stress-relieving gazpacho) — over those high in saturated fat, since the latter may increase your risk for cardiovascular disease.

Research links regular soup consumption with higher levels of vitamin C, folate and beta-carotene.  The nutrient density of soup also may translate into greater satiety; by giving your body the nutrition it needs, the brain gets the signal you’ve eaten enough. For optimum health, we recommend making your soup from whole food ingredients.

Published January 1, 2012