Janice Stanger, PhD

Janice Stanger, PhD

Posted December 4, 2010

Published in Health

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What Kind of Soup Is Best for Colds?

Read More: colds, flu, respiratory infection, soup, vegetables

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vegetables for soup_opt.jpgColds, flu, and all manner of upper respiratory infections blossom in winter. Modern medicine has no effective cure for the patient's misery. Some drugs can temporarily help with symptoms, but may have unwanted side effects that make things worse in the long-run.

So what is a desperate sufferer or their family member to do? Folk cures abound. Chicken soup is reputed to be useful in alleviating cold symptoms. In fact, a scientific study published in 2000 in the peer-reviewed medical journal Chest is often cited to support the idea that chicken soup has real clinical effects. The action the study authors see as most beneficial in helping with cold misery was the demonstrated anti-inflammatory power of the soup.

With the advent of cold and flu season, I decided to revisit the Chest study to see if the supposed beneficial effect of chicken soup would be duplicated or improved by plant-based soups.

The study authors started out making their soup with only chicken, then after some cooking time added lots of excellent vegetables - onion, sweet potato, parsnips, turnips, carrots, celery, parsley. They tested the soup for a beneficial effect on dampening over-active immune system cells (which are responsible for inflammation) periodically as they cooked it.

Here's the whole story of the startling findings. Before vegetables were added, the chicken broth had no anti-inflammatory activity. Right after vegetables were placed in the pot, the broth acquired potent anti-inflammatory impact on human immune system cells. After the vegetables cooked for a while (exact times are not given in the article, but total cooking time was 2 hours and 15 minutes), they lost some of their anti-inflammatory power.

So, in this widely touted article, it turns out the findings indicate that lightly cooked vegetable soup is a powerful weapon to relieve cold symptoms. The study authors suggest other effects that soup may have

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