Vegetable soup is hearty and healthy. Loaded with veggies like carrots, onions, tomatoes, celery, green beans and zucchini, veggie soup is a great source of many essential vitamins and nutrients. The meal is also low in calories and high in fiber, so you stay satiated long after you eat it.
Carrots are a staple ingredient in most vegetable soups. The orange veggies are rich in beta-carotene, a nutrient converted into vitamin A by the liver. This vitamin is essential for eye health, and eating carrots regularly can prevent dry eyes, cataracts, blindness and macular degeneration. The lutein in carrots is also good for the eyes. The high levels of antioxidants in carrots can reduce your risk of developing cardiovascular disease. A recent long-term study from the Netherlands determined that eating carrots and other orange and yellow foods protects the heart more than eating white, green, purple or red foods. Researchers found that carrots provide the greatest protection from heart disease thanks to their antioxidant and phytonutrient levels. One cup of carrots contains just 50 calories but yields 420 milligrams of vitamin A.
A key ingredient in vegetable soup, tomatoes are loaded with antioxidants like manganese and vitamin C and are also a great source of many phytonutrients. These compounds protect cells from damage and are linked to cancer prevention. Making tomatoes a part of your regular diet lowers the risk of breast, prostate and pancreatic cancer. Tomatoes are also a good source of lycopene, a nutrient that lowers cholesterol and fat levels in the blood. The lycopene in tomatoes also reduces the risk of heart disease because it has anti-platelet properties that stop platelets from clumping and hardening the arteries. One cup of tomatoes has just 30 calories but contains 40 milligrams of vitamin C and 30 milligrams of vitamin A.
Celery, another common ingredient in vegetable soup, has many health benefits. The vegetable's nutrients and vitamins can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, contribute to healthy joints, prevent cancer, boost the immune system, provide relief for migraines and regulate fluid balance in the body. One cup of celery has just 20 calories but contains 8 milligrams of vitamin A and 4 milligrams of vitamin C.
Onions are overall health boosters and make vegetable soup a superfood. Eating onions improves oral health, prevents tooth decay, reduces the risk of developing colon cancer, boosts the immune system, improves cardiovascular health, helps control glucose levels and can provide relief for sinusitis and earaches. The vegetables are also a good source of antioxidants, potassium, calcium and magnesium, nutrients that are essential to good overall health. A 1/2-cup serving of onions contains 10 percent of the daily recommended value of vitamin C.
A vegetable soup made with 1 cup each of tomatoes, celery and carrots and 1/2 cup of onions yields 53 percent of the daily recommended amount of vitamin A and 60 percent of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C. Include 1 cup of chicken stock to add an additional 6 grams of protein and 1 cup of chopped potatoes to add a large dose of vitamin K.
Poppy Carpenter graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. In addition to teaching journalism to junior high students, she also covers health and fitness for "PUSH Monthly" and Angie's List.