The Healthiest Winter Food – Chicken Soup
Jan, 16, 2014
Winter is heavy upon us this year. With temperatures dropping to a “balmy” one degree earlier last week and dropping over 45 degrees within the span of 15 hours, you want to make sure that you’re eating foods that help keep you healthy, build up the immune system and help keep you warm. In that regards, almost nothing is better than chicken soup. Growing up, I never really liked soups and I would only eat them when I was sick. As I’ve grown older, I’ve come to recognize the folly of my ways.
There are so many health benefits to a healthy soup made with the bones intact. A simple chicken soup made with chicken thighs, or a soup made with some bone marrow bones (or a combination thereof), really only calls for meat with bones in it, water, salt and a bunch of vegetables cut up to your liking.
That simple recipe though has a slew of health benefits and you might not even appreciate just how wide-ranging those benefits truly are. To hope sway you towards making and eating a lot of soup this winter I’m going to list the top 5 benefits of eating chicken, or any other boned (such as Oxtail) soup.
Top 5 Benefits of Chicken Soup
1 – High in Collagen forming Glycosaminoglycans
What are glycosaminoglycans? They are the basic building blocks of collagen. Collagen is what makes up your bones, joints and skin amongst every other connective tissue in your body. If you have dry skin during winter, instead of simply using extra cream on your skin, you can doubly protect it by eating soup. The benefits of the glycosaminoglycans are numerous, but here are the top 3:
A – They are not digested by your stomach.
This means they can go directly to your bones and joints or wherever else they’re needed to help strengthen them. Since collagen forms the backbone of your skin and joints, if you want to look and feel younger, the best way is to eat more of the raw material needed to build them up.
B – Ever have problem with cellulite? Do you know the difference between those who have cellulite and those that don’t? Those with cellulite only have 2 layers of collagen under their skin within their fat. That lessened support forms the cottage cheese look in the appearance of the skin. Those without cellulite have 3 layers. That extra layer doesn’t get rid of fat, but does make it look smoother under your skin. If you’ve ever seen someone who’s really skinny, but still has cellulite in their legs (and since 90% of women have cellulite, it’s not uncommon to see), it’s most likely due to poor collagen formation. Therefore, if you want to potentially lessen your risks of having cellulite, then start eating more soups with bones in them.
C – Help you to recover from small injuries quicker.
Have you ever worked out and had a small pain in your shoulder or knee (or really any other joint) and after a week, it starts to become really annoying? One of the best ways to heal quicker from that injury is to again, provide the body with the basic building blocks it needs to heal. Chicken soup provides those building blocks and can help to speed up recovery from those minor aches and pains better than any pain killer. This is to not say that pain killers can’t be used, but to decrease their use and speed up recovery the more natural way, eat more soup.
2 – High in Vitamins and Minerals
A good soup will have a slew of vegetables. As such, a good vegetable soup will have a lot of natural vitamins and minerals. Most people don’t realize that most vitamins and minerals work better when eaten in combination with each other. Along with the meat which will help to provide a lot of vitamins and minerals in and of itself, when combined with the vegetables, you have a complete list of vitamins and minerals and a lot of other co-factors that have a slew of benefits.
For example, cruciferous vegetables (think broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, etc) will be high in specialized detoxifying compounds such as sulphorphane which helps to lessen one’s risk of breast and prostate cancer. It does this by helping to stimulate the second phase of liver detoxification when it comes to estrogen mimickers in the environment. If you’ve ever heard of the potentially dangers of plastics, then you might have heard of BPA. BPA acts as an estrogen mimicker in the body causes the body to act like it has higher levels of estrogen. By doing so, men have lower sperm counts, women are at an increased risk of breast cancer and children’s learning becomes impaired.
Every time you hear about the new “super food” just know that about every vegetable has some sort of beneficial property that can be sold as a “super food.” The more you eat them and combine them in ways your body can easily digest (like in a soup), you give yourself the upper hand in staying healthy throughout the winter…and beyond.
3 – Lowers Inflammation
If you don’t eat the soup with any pasta or rice, you increase your odds of decreasing inflammation throughout your body. Small inflammation in your body can show up in a variety of small annoyances in your body. Anything from body rashes, to wheezing and coughing to a runny nose to brain fog and acne can all be attributed to chronic low-grade inflammation.
Basically, what inflammation does is to call on your immune system to be hypervigilant. Although this might sound like a good thing, what usually ends up happening is that your immune system ends up attacking your own tissues and you end up with a higher incidence of rashes, allergies and the things listed above.
By decreasing that inflammation, you give yourself the upper hand at staying healthy throughout the cold winter and in being able to stick to your workout routine instead of having to stop because of “being under the weather.”
4 – High in Electrolytes
Electrolytes are really not well understood and as such, the only thing that most people associate with electrolytes is Gatorade. That’s disappointing because electrolytes help with a lot of processes in your body. For example, have you ever felt a bit more stiff when it gets really cold outside? This is usually because your body is out of balance when it comes to electrolytes.
What are electrolytes? They consist of potassium, magnesium, sodium, calcium, chloride and phosphorous. When these things are in balance, you feel flexible and fluid, able to move freely and as such, feel younger. If you are out of balance with these things, you feel tight, stiff and old.
Guess what has a great profile for electrolytes? Chicken soup. When made with sea salt and the run of vegetables listed below you get a full profile of electrolytes, while the chicken helps to provide a lot of phosphorous. That combination helps to keep you limber when you would normally feel tight and that feeling of limberness helps to keep you motivated to work out at your fullest capabilities.
5 – Helps with Weight Loss
Studies have shown that those who eat a soup before a meal, eat less overall calories, without feeling an increase in hunger the rest of the day. If all of those added benefits didn’t sell you on the benefits of soup, then this one is usually the one that people will listen to. Who cares about healthy joints, skin and immune system? The important question is, will it help me look better? And in this case, it does that too.
Honestly, chicken soup helps to make you feel younger, look younger, more limber, while providing the basic ingredients in repairing joints and skin. It does all of this, while helping you to lose weight. This truly is a “super food” that everyone should be enjoying every day throughout the winter.
Below is a sample recipe with a couple of ways to cook it. Feel free to add your own vegetables and to throw in any additional meat with bones in it for a chicken plus other delicious meat soup. Just be careful to eat the soup without any rice, pasta or an extra amount of potatoes to get the full benefits.
Sample Chicken Soup Recipe:
1 -2 packs of Organic Chicken Thighs (with bones and skin) – Can be Purchased at Shop-Rite in Hoboken
Other meats you can use include Lamb necks, Oxtail, veal breast shank (make sure to cut up)
All Vegetables – Can be purchased at Basic off of 2nd and Washington
5 Stalk of Celery – cut to ½ inch pieces
5 Carrots – chopped
8 pieces of garlic – 5 whole thrown in whole and 3 chopped up
2 onions – peeled and chopped
5 Leaves of Kale – cut to likeness
1 Sweet Potato – Washed and cubed
1 Squash or Zucchini
Any other vegetables you enjoy (Bok Choy’s a favorite of mine)
Water as needed
Sea Salt as Celtic Sea Salt or the “Real Salt” Brand
Notes: If you don’t enjoy a certain vegetable or it’s too hard to obtain, just put in other vegetables that you do enjoy. Just limit the starchy vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes. I prefer all of my vegetables to be organic, but if that’s not cost-effective, then you would want to ensure that the celery, kale and carrots are organic, along with the chicken thighs. If you can’t find organic chicken thighs, then you can use drumsticks from a kosher source.
After it’s cooked, you can add salt to your preference.
Finally, if you like your food a bit more spicy, you can add a jalapeno into the soup that will give it just a little more flavor, without making it too hot. You can also mix in some Sriracha sauce into your individual bowl after it’s been cooked.
Cooking: If you’re using a Crock-Pot, cook on low for at least 6 hours, although 8 is probably better. If you’re cooking it on a stove-top, bring to a boil and then bring it down to a low simmer for at least 3 hours.
If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to email me back. Thanks.
If you wish to learn more about this you can read:
Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food: http://www.amazon.com/Deep-Nutrition-Your-Genes-Traditional/dp/0615228380/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389890632&sr=8-1&keywords=Deep+Nutrition
You can also read some of the benefits of bone broth here: http://www.townsendletter.com/FebMarch2005/broth0205.htm
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