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It Comforts But Does It Heal? Here’s the 411 on Chicken Soup’s Medicinal Properties

Nothing beats soup for the soul.

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Nothing compares to chicken soup. Its combo of meat, vegetables, broth, and noodles are comforting and nourishing in equal measure. It’s the ideal food when you’re feeling less than ideal.

I’ve often wondered, though, if chicken noodle soup’s curative properties are real. While it’s a beloved wintertime meal — in a 2022 TastingTable.com survey, 35 percent of 588 respondents named “chicken noodle” their favorite cold weather soup — the question of its healing powers remains. Can it actually clear a stuffy nose and soothe a sore throat? In fact, it can. Keep reading to discover the proven health benefits of chicken soup.

Therapeutic Benefits of Chicken Soup

Chicken soup is popular worldwide. From matzo ball soup (also called “Jewish penicillin“) to Chicken Caldo Verde (a Portuguese green soup), there’s a take for every regional taste. “Almost every culture has its own variation on chicken soup, and rightly so — it’s one of the most gratifying dishes on the face of the Earth,” chef Yotam Ottolenghi writes in The Guardian.

As for its medicinal properties, research provides some insights. A study published in the CHEST Journal investigated chicken noodle soup’s widely reported anti-inflammatory effects, especially for upper respiratory tract infections. Researchers conducted several tests using a recipe called “Grandma’s Soup,” which contained ingredients like chicken, turnips, broth, and carrots. The tests were designed to evaluate the soup’s ability to inhibit neutrophil migration, the process by which white blood cells called neutrophils quickly move from bloodstream infection sites in tissue to other parts of the body. The authors noted that neutrophil products are strong stimulators of mucous release, which could explain why colds lead to cough and phlegm.

Ultimately, researchers observed that chicken soup significantly inhibited neutrophil migration. As a result, they concluded that chicken noodle soup has mild anti-inflammatory benefits for easing cold symptoms. Another health-boosting component? The broth. Warm chicken broth is brimming with essential fatty acids and proteins needed for skin, blood cell, bone, and muscle health. Finally — and not least importantly — many kids grew up being served a bowl of chicken soup when they were sick; thus, a warming bowl may provide emotional and psychological comfort to kids and nostalgic adults, FoodNetwork.com points out.

Serving Up a Bowl of Comfort

Before making and enjoying your chicken noodle soup, here are a couple of tips to keep in mind.

From scratch. Making your soup from scratch takes time, but it also lets you control the ingredients and make the healthiest version possible. Plus, you can get creative with topping ideas.

In a can. Canned soup is definitely convenient if you’re in a pinch or feeling too sick to whip up anything homemade. Just try to be on the lookout for low-sodium versions of canned soup — a commercial staple like Campbell’s Chicken Soup, for example, contains a whopping 890 milligrams of sodium per can!

Whether you’re looking for nourishment or cold symptom mitigation this flu season, chicken soup is a therapeutic dish that’s sure to get you feeling better in no time.

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

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