“Thank God we are a healthy diet following family.Regular soups,salad and fruits are must for my kids and us.”A regular patient of mine was passing on the information I needed about her lifestyle and diet habits.I was very impressed by this high profile very busy banker and a mother of two beautiful daughters.
I admired her saying, “I really appreciate your efforts in such a hectic work schedule of yours.” “ Yes Doctor,thanks to some good food manufactures like ****,which make our work so easy.I use all of their ready to make soup products.Fill the cabinet for month and you are done.I really hate munching on oily and heavy snacks.I make sure choose healthy options for my family.”
She was telling so enthusiastically about the ready to make soups packets that I held my big “Oh No No No” in mouth only.
Dear patient this write up is for you and many like you.
The era of fitness! This is the best name one can give to the kalyuga we are living in. The grocery stores, the food mall ,television,the fitness stores and on-line sites are overflowing with the health products, food supplement and ready to make and ready to eat healthy nutritious food.
All of these products come under famous brands, advertised by famous celebrities highlighting that if you are not eating these products ,your family is depriving from nutrition.
They show, they insist,they make you buy and consume because you believe and don’t want to miss on this attractive ,easy and in trends of food habits.
Okay!Coming straight to the topic of today’s blog which is about the ready to eat soup powders.(In fact applicable to the all ready to eat and cook list)
“Oh come on , now what’s wrong in that. They are loaded with the vegetables,low fat, low calories and are fortified with the vitamins and minerals.” Yes,Yes I am habitual to these responses.
Lets us see the facts one by one in very simple manner.
How are these soup powders prepared?
The purpose of these soups or any other ready to use or eat food product is to make them available to consume anytime without wasting time.The preservation is the first thing needed for it. Here goes everything wrong in a good purpose.To incerase the shelf life,achieve the desired texture, form, colour and to enhance the taste many chemical additives,preservatives,colours and flavors are used.
The vegetables used are subjected to the extreme cold tempertaure or dry hot air to dehyadrate them so as they would not get rotten.This particular step literally make those veggies lifeless.Nutrient loss is inevitable.To overcome these losses it is fortified with synthetic vitamines again. That is so strange.Finally it is packed in cans or plastic packets after adding above mentioned ingriedients.These packets rest on shelves for many days and then finally rest in our stomoch happily making stomoch unhappy.Quite disappointing .Isnt it?
What do these soup packets contain as ingredients and their effect on health?
The common ingredietns are
- Dried vegetables: We all know fresh vegetables are nutritious and they should be consumed fresh.Freezing or heating and dehydrating veggies for making the dry powder for soup obviously signify the loss of nutrients and the veggies are no more veggies now. They are mummy of the veggies.
- Wheat flour/corn starch/potato starch: to achieve the creamy,consistency the potato or corn starch is used. I really doubt only whole wheat is used solely in any of the brand.
- Maltodextrin: the form of D-glucose chains.Maltodextrin is used as an inexpensive additive to thicken food products. It is also used as a filler in sugar substitutes and other products.Maltodextrin has a glycemic index ranging from 85 to 105.No sugar added line on packets missguides us this way.
- Monosodium glutamate: MSG is a favorite among food manufacturers because it brings out the flavor in many foods. The downside is that it can cause various and severe allergic reactions in some people.The problems associated with processed foods continue to grow. Our over abundance of these items has left a society struggling with poor nutrition and overall health. MSG is a flavour enhancer.Understanding the pitfalls of MSG can be very confusing. Glutamate is a naturally occurring amino acid that the body uses and needs. The synthetic manipulation and processing of glutamate produces a form that is not found in nature. MSG has been labelled an excitotoxin(The taste that kills)because it is thought to have the ability to overstimulate cells to death. Many people link headaches, flushing, poor attention and other symptoms, as well as diseases like fibromyalgia, to MSG intake regularly through these food.MSG also induces migraine headaches, asthma attacks, behavioral disorders, depression, heart irregularities, restless leg syndrome, arthritis, sinus problems and many digestive problems including diarrhea.
- Disodium guanylate and Disodium inosinate :These are sodium derivative used as food additive. Like MSG, or monosodium glutamate, disodium inosinate is often used as a flavor enhancer in packaged food products and in fast food such as hamburgers and tacos. It has several potential side effects.Numbness,flushed and itchy skin, gastric troubles are some common side effects.
- Hydrogenated soya bin oil: A form of transfat which are highly hazardous for human being.It can be responsible for metabolic syndrome too.
- BPA: is a chemical used in cash-register receipts and some plastics, but also in the epoxy resin liner of most metal food cans used for ready to eat soups.It’s most likely leaching into your favourite soup, exposing you to the synthetic, estrogen like substance that has been linked to obesity, breast and prostate cancers, and aggression and other behavioural problems in young girls.
- Some additive such as artificial colour and flavours are always very harmful. Do I need to elaborate more on it?
What is the easy solution for busy people like us?
- Keep simple ,eat fresh and stick to the local food are the words I tell.Who said soups and salads are the only healthy options to consider?
- Cooking fresh is the best for health.But the fast lifestyle restricts the time one can spend in kitchen for cooking.The traditional ways of storing snacks and cooking come to rescue here.
- The steam cooked, blend and garnish are the three simple steps for any soup. In stead of using chemical layered ready to eat soup one can store the cooked and blended veggies and use to make soup out of it. Though these cannot be stored long still it is always better any time to the ready to eat stuff.
E.g. In advance cook and blend pumkin/spinach/gourd/any other veggies blend them smooth. Keep in cool place.While using it for soup add water, spices like clover,ginger,black pepper,rock salt etc boil for a minute and serve hot with few lemon drops and a teaspoon cow ghee(clarified butter) on it.
Another unique form of soup we Indians do cherish on.
- Dry roast pearl millet /finger millet/amaranths fine flour (jawar ,bajra,nachani,ragi etc)and keep this fine roasted flour in airtight container. It can be stored up to 3 months.Now when you want to eat just add water to make soft liquid paste like texture boil it for 3 minutes continuously stirring it to avoid lumps formation in it.Add rock salt,dried ginger,black pepper,fennel,cumin powder in it.You can add sweet buttermilk in it when served.Eat or drink hot.You can add finely grated,boiled or raw veggies in it.The total procedure takes hardly 5 minutes.
- Prepare soup from soft cooked red lentil ,yellow lentil,green mung or yellow mung soup using above mentioned spices is another gate away from ready to eat soups.Add curry leaves,garlic,cow ghee,turmeric powder to enhance flavor taste and its nutritional value.It is easy and will be ready in few minutes too.
- Never use the ready to use salad dressing and spreads. In stead go for fresh seasoning.Otherwise your purpose for salad and soup will never achieve the goal i.e. health and nutrition.
The role of soup in nutrition or the Ayurvedic view on the soup is another interesting topics to discuss.In coming blogs surely I will try to focus on them.
The things discussed in this blog are applicable to all ready to cook or eat food and products like many spreads, sauces,seasoning and canned food too.
Be educated while you pick and put things in your grocery cart !
Some refernces to read: