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Choosing the Best Canned Soup

Written on December 21, 2011 at 1:01 pm , by

 

alphabet soup

Photo by iStockphoto

By Kati Mora, RD for DietsInReview.com

As the weather turns colder, nothing quite hits the spot like a bowl or cup of delicious soup. Homemade soup is typically the most nutritious option for when you’re on a diet, because you have total control over which ingredients you add or omit from the mix…but it’s not always possible on a hectic day.

When canned soup is more convenient, knowing how to determine which ones are your best choice is important. Not all canned soups are created equal, so here’s what to look at on the label:

Fat
Cream-based soups are often higher in fat than their broth-based counterparts. Although this is an admitted generalization, you can be sure you are choosing a soup low in fat by checking the label. If your soup has 3 grams or less of fat per serving, consider it a low-fat choice.

Sodium
Canned soups are notorious for their often high sodium content. Again, broth-based soups are typically lower in sodium than cream-based options, but this may not always be the case. You’re best bet? Soups that have 360 grams of sodium or less in each serving.

Fiber
If you can, try to grab a can of soup that has at least 10% of its daily value of fiber. Most Americans don’t get enough of this very important nutrient. Plus, the more fiber your soup has, the more likely it will keep you feeling full.

Vitamins and Minerals
The more nutrients your canned soup has, the better. Look for soups that have plenty of vegetables, beans, and lentils. These ingredients can increase the amount of vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, and protein your soup has and help you more easily reach your daily nutritional needs. Plus, bean- and lentil-based soups are often higher in fiber and lower in sodium than other soup varieties.

Look for the Word “Healthy”
Soups that use the word “Healthy” in their brand name are required to meet specific guidelines. Brands such as Healthy Choice, Campbell’s Healthy Request, and Healthy Valley must keep sodium levels below a certain threshold, as set forth by the Food and Drug Administration. This means that these food may have a lower sodium option than others; however, it is still important to turn the can around and determine for yourself whether the sodium levels in each can meet your own specific requirements for health.

MORE from DietsinReview.com: If you do want to prepare your own healthy soup, try these recipes. It’s easy to spend some time on the weekend making a big batch (or two), filling single-serving containers, and then freezing or refrigerating for the perfect brown bag lunch during the week.