Cuddling up with a bowl of chicken soup is the best cure for colds this winter season, according to researchers.
A study found that chicken soup could ease the symptoms of upper respiratory infections because it contains anti-inflammatory agents.
Further research shows that the aroma, spices and heat from the soup can clear congestion brought on by the common cold.
A researcher from the University of Nebraska put his ‘grandma’s soup’ recipe to the test to find out if the myth is true.
The suspected benefits of chicken soup date back centuries ago when the Egyptian Jewish physician and philosopher, Moshe ben Maimon, recommended chicken soup for cold symptoms in his 12th century writings.
Since then, recipes for the warm broth have been passed down for generations surrounded by rumors of cold-fighting abilities.
Dr Stephen Rennard studied three batches of what he calls Grandma’s Soup, which includs chicken, onions, sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips, carrots, celery stems, parsley, salt and pepper.
He examined if the movement of neutrophils, the most common white cell in the blood that defends the body against infection, would be blocked or reduced by chicken soup.
And the results found just that, suggesting that chicken soup might have an anti-inflammatory components, which may ease symptoms and shorten upper respiratory tract infections.
However, this study wasn’t done on humans, but instead their white blood cells.
Dr Rennard added that the psychological and physical comfort soup provides could also have a placebo effect.
Another study conducted nearly 40 years ago found that chicken soup’s aroma, heat and spices could help to clear sinuses and congestion by breaking up mucus and opening airways.
Florida internist Dr Gail van Diepen told Daily Mail Online: ‘Increasing fluid intake is important when you have a cold.’
This is due to the release of fluids from a runny nose or feverish sweat that causes dehydration.
So when you’re sick, your body needs to replace those lost fluids and a brothy soup can do just that, Dr van Diepen suggests.
And though researchers were not able to identify the exact ingredients in the soup that made it fight colds, they theorize it may be a combination of ingredients that work together to have beneficial effects.
The soup may improve rehydration and nutrition in the body, according to Rennard.
Most soups include ingredients high in nutrients. Grandma’s Soup contains more than five vegetables high in fiber, vitamin C and antioxidants.
Drinking an entire bowl can provide that daily dose of nutrients which can boost the immune system to battle cold symptoms.
And the soup doesn’t have to be homemade to have these cold-fighting effects.
‘Many store-bought, prepared and even canned soups, had the same inhibitory effect, Dr Rennard said.
GRANDMA’S CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP RECIPE
- 1 5- to 6-pound stewing hen or baking chicken
- 1 package of chicken wings
- 3 large onions
- 1 large sweet potato
- 3 parsnips
- 2 turnips
- 11 to 12 large carrots
- 5 to 6 celery stems
- 1 bunch of parsley
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Clean the chicken, put it in a large pot and cover it with cold water. Bring the water to boil.
- Add the chicken wings, onions, sweet potato, parsnips, turnips and carrots. Boil about 1 and a half hours. Remove fat from the surface as it accumulates.
- Add the parsley and celery. Cook the mixture about 45 min. longer.
- Remove the chicken. The chicken is not used further for the soup. (The meat makes excellent chicken Parmesan.)
- Put the vegetables in a food processor until they are chopped fine or pass through a strainer. Both were performed in the present study.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
(Note: This soup freezes well.)