Sunday, November 25, 2012

What's in Your Soup?

Soup sales have slumped in the last few years, so the marketing machine is giving the labels a makeover. Companies are advertising whatever will get your attention, such as more fiber, protein, vegetables, whole grains, etc. As usual, many of the claims don't mean much. Here are some tips for separating the beans from the bull.
The word "natural" is quite trendy and usually means little, though most labels using the term DO contain  fewer additives. Beware however, salt is 100% "natural." Sea Salt is only a coarser grain, so of course there is less of it in a measured teaspoon. Look for soups that contain 300mg. or less per serving. Your arteries will thank you.
High fiber would be great if it were all unprocessed, or if it didn't come from psyllium or soluble corn fiber. Look for soups containing whole grain pastas, beans and lentils for the real deal in lowering LDL cholesterol.
"Full serving of Vegetables" would be impressive if the vegetables didn't come from tomato paste. If you get tired of searching the labels for real vegetables, you can always add a handful of frozen vegetables to your favorite soup for a quick nutrition boost.
Very few canned soup brands are able to advertize that they do not use BPA (bisphenol A) to line their cans. The bottom of the can will be stamped "NB." Pregnant women and young children should avoid canned products and look for soups in cartons, pouches, or microwave bowls.
"A Good Source of Protein" would be a serving that provides at least 8 grams. High protein soups are generally a bean, split pea, or lentil soup, and not necessarily one containing meat.
"Low Calorie" are soups boasting 100 calories per serving. A great choice, especially if you eat more than a serving size. Just watch out for the sodium. Most have more than the regular soups.
American Heart Association Certified To earn the Heart Check, soups must provide no more than 480 mg. sodium per serving and stay below the AHA's limits for saturated fat and cholesterol, and a hefty check to the AHA. Keep in mind the 1 cup serving size!
For those low sodium soups that need some flavor:
     Tomato soup: add some basil, or a light sprinkle of oregano, thyme, or tarragon.
     Chicken: Ginger and a squeeze of lime, or a little cilantro with a dash of hot sauce.
     Vegetable: Sprinkle some Parmesan cheese, parsley or a dash of pesto.
      Butternut Squash: a dash of dried sage, or some curry and a spoonful of plain yogurt.
      Bean or Lentil: roasted red peppers and/or fresh ground black pepper. Baby spinach.

~CSPI, 2012