Soup for a winter’s day. Go for it!

The canned stuff, with its overload of sodium, will ravage your internal body parts and leave a legacy of trouble. Stick with the wholesome fare you cook yourself.

Tenille Sonnichsen Fit for life
Tenille Sonnichsen
Fit for life

A nice hot bowl of soup seems like the perfect meal for a cold winter day. But we must not forget to check the sodium content if we are buying canned or pre-prepared soups.

If we look at the label for a can of Campbell’s Classic Chicken with Rice, we see a sodium content of 650 milligrams. And that’s only for one half-cup (125 milliliter) serving. So if we eat one cup of soup, our sodium intake goes up to 1,300 mg. That’s almost an entire day’s worth of sodium for someone who is trying to limit their salt intake!

Campbell’s Classic Chicken Noodle has a sodium content of 940 mg for one-half cup, or 1,880 mg for one cup! Campbell’s Classic Tomato Reduced Sodium brings the sodium down to 480 mg per half-cup serving, 960 mg for one cup, which is still a very high dose of sodium if you are aiming for only 1,500mg per day.

Why do we need to be so careful about our intake of sodium? The first thing most people think of is hypertension, or high blood pressure. Sodium can cause fluids to be retained in the body, which increases the pressure on the blood vessels in the body, and also causes the heart to work harder to pump the extra fluid volume.

Hypertension increases the risk of stroke, and of damage to the heart and coronary arteries, including heart attack, congestive heart failure, aortic dissection (tearing of the large blood vessel of the heart), and atherosclerosis (buildup of plaque in the arteries).

Even if you don’t have high blood pressure, excessive sodium can increase calcium excretion from the body (bad for our bones), can be hard on the kidneys, can stiffen the blood vessels (increasing the likelihood of plaque buildup), and can also cause the heart to enlarge (a larger heart has to work harder and is more prone to fatigue).

Keeping our intake of sodium to a target of 1,500-2,300mg of sodium per day is beneficial for our health, whether or not we have hypertension or heart disease.

Soups can be a very healthy winter meal- when they are made at home. Use a chicken carcass or beef bones to make a broth, and add plenty of vegetables, herbs, spices and legumes (dried beans, peas, lentils), to get a good mixture of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants without all the extra sodium added to canned soups as a preservative.

For recipe ideas for homemade lower sodium soups, check out these websites:

Tenille Sonnichsen is registered dietician at the Reh-Fit Centre.

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