How do you warm up when it’ s chilly? With a hot bowl of soup, ‘course! However, warming effect is not the main feature of this dish: a good soup has other characteristics that are extremely favourable to health, when made of simple fresh seasonal ingredients, without food additives or preservatives. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey of the US conducted an epidemiologic study on more than 4000 adults aged 19-64, to determine the relationship between soups consumption and body weight status as well as metabolic syndrome. The results, published on the Journal of the Public Library of Science, have clearly shown an inverse relationship between soups consumption and body weight status, supporting further analyses and suggesting a potential benefit of soups consumption in body weight management. Although the underlying mechanism of obesity remains partially unclear, scientific evidence seems to suggest that a diminished thermogenesis in obese patients, particularly of the amount induced by ingested foods, could play a significant role in the development and/or maintenance of obesity.
What is thermogenesis and why is so important?
Thermogenesis is the physiological process of heat production in living organisms. Dietary induced thermogenesis, also known as specific dynamic action of a food or thermal food effect, is the increase in energy expenditure above the resting metabolic rate, due to the cost of food processing and storage. Along with resting metabolic rate and with exercise-associated thermogenesis, food induced thermogenesis is a component of our metabolism. Although diet thermogenesis is the smallest component, its role should not be neglected, due to its extreme variability in different foods. As an example, dietary fat is very easy to process and has a very little thermic effect, while proteins are hard to process and have a much larger thermal efficiency. The theory that diet induced thermogenesis is reduced in obesity appears to be plausible and attractive, as many studies seem to suggest.
As has already been emphasized, the specific dynamic action is particularly high in protein-rich foods and is lesser in foods with high carbohydrate and lipid content. In quantitative terms, proteins account for an average 25%-30% extra-energy expenditure as compared to their calorific value, whereas carbohydrates for 6%-8% and lipids for 3%-4%. As a result, the organism should burn 30 kcal out of 100 kcal derived from proteins, hence 70 kcal are the amount of energy which is actually stored; in other terms, the digestion of 100 kcal of proteins takes 30 kcal, whereas carbohydrates take only 8 kcal out of 100 kcal and lipids only 4 out of 100 kcal. The mechanism by which the organism takes a lot of energy to burn off calories is called the thermogenic effect of foods, hence the name of thermogenic foods to designate foods with high thermal efficiency, i.e. with lower energy storage ratio.
The nutitional value of soups
Here are the nutritional values of some of the best-known soups. All values are referred to 100 g. of food.
Data source: From the US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, 2011. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 24
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