October 10, 2007

Do You Know What You're Sipping?

Ah, autumn! Leaves turn, pumpkin is all the rage, animals begin stocking up on food, and we trade in iced lattes for soup.

As nutritionally innocent as a hot cup of it may sound, you can make some real blunders as you navigate the canned soup aisle at the supermarket.

Read below to mak sure the soup in your cart will do more than soothe your soul.

Calculate calories!

Although many people consider one can of soup to be one serving, food companies beg to differ. A standard can of soup is considered two servings, meaning you need to multiply every single value on that food label by two.

Sometimes, this leads to higher numbers than one would expect. For instance, a can of Campell's Chunky New England Clam Chowder clocks in at 480 calories, while the same variety made by Progresso adds up to 460 calories. Amy's Organic Tom Kha Phak Coconut Soup is also a significant source of calories, at 440 per can.

Stay vigilant of sodium levels.

Canned and frozen goods -- except for flash-frozen fruits and vegetables -- are often loaded with sodium, a mineral that is necessary for basic cellular functions, but can contribute to several health risks if consumed in high amounts.

Although the recommended daily allowance is set at no more than 2,400 milligrams, the average adult in the United States is getting 150% of the amount.

The worst culprits in soup world? Progresso's Savory Beef, Barley, and Vegetable Soup (1,980 mg per can), Progresso's Chickarina (2,020 mg per can), and Campbell's Chunky New England Clam Chowder (1,960 mg per can).

Luckily, there are some sodium saints. Amy's Organic recently launched a new line of "light in sodium" soups which, on average, contain approximately 550 milligrams of sodium per can.

Health Valley offers "no salt added" soups which are extremely low in sodium, contributing a mere 140 milligrams per can.

Don't saturate yourself.

If you're not careful, you could be taking in a lot of saturated fat with your soup of choice.

Consider the following. A can of Campbell's Chunky Sirloin Burger with Country Vegetable soup packs in 10 grams of saturated fat (50% of the recommended daily limit, and more than a Crunch bar).

Don't be fooled by organic products either. Despite offering many nutritionally sound purposes, some of Amy's soups deliver a wollop of artery-clogging saturated fats. The organic potato soup? 12 grams per can! Her organic corn chowder? 9 grams! The Tom Kha Phak coconut soup? An alarming 22 grams (more than a day's worth!) in a single can.

One good strategy is to be careful of chowders and other cream-based soups.

Find fiber.

Those of you seeking to get more fiber in your diet should turn to soup for help.

Varieties chock full of beans and legumes will offer significant amounts of fiber, protein, and healthy fats -- the three pillars of satiety!

The average can of black bean soup will provide a powerful 14 grams of fiber, while lentil varieties typically contain 10 to 12 grams of the intestinal tract clearing, cholesterol-lowering, colon cancer protecting all-star.

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