4 Reasons to Stock Up on Chicken Noodle Soup This Flu Season

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By: Chris Freytag, CPT // November 24, 2023


Chicken noodle soup has always been a go-to remedy whenever a cold or flu pops up, but do its seemingly soothing effects really help?

In short? It sure does!

While speaking with Fortune Well, Colby Teeman, a registered dietitian and professor of dietetics and nutrition, breaks down the research behind this beloved soup.

Let’s take a look at the science behind chicken noodle soup pointed out by Teeman, and how its healing properties can help this upcoming cold and flu season.

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    1. It Can Improve Your Appetite

    Photo Credit: Depositphotos

    Being sick, especially with an upper respiratory illness, can put a damper on your appetite. Maybe you only want to eat a little, or you skip meals altogether — either way, you’re likely not getting the nutrition you need.

    Luckily, chicken noodle soup’s rich, savory, and meaty flavor is known as an “umami” taste, which research shows can improve your appetite.

    Teeman also points to a study that shows umami flavor can improve nutrient digestion. This can help reduce gastrointestinal issues that sometimes come with an illness, especially in children.

    2. It Helps Reduce Inflammation

    Chicken noodle soup with parsley and vegetables in a white plate, gray background.
    Photo Credit: Depositphotos

    Teeman explains that when you’re sick, inflammation is your body’s natural response. This occurs when white blood cells migrate to the inflamed tissue that needs healing. When this happens, you get those unpleasant cold and flu symptoms like a stuffy nose or a cough from increased mucus.

    The good news? Chicken noodle soup can actually decrease the number of white blood cells traveling to inflamed tissue, which can help relieve your stuffy nose.

    3. The Broth Loosens Mucus

    Sick young woman eating chicken soup while wrapped in a blanket on the couch.
    Photo Credit: Depositphotos

    That constant, mucusy cough you get with a cold or flu can be a pain, but the warm broth from chicken noodle soup can help!

    Research shows chicken soup is more effective at loosening mucus than drinking hot water alone. So, the next time you’re sick, sipping chicken noodle soup broth or inhaling its vapors can help loosen mucus and relieve a cough or nasal congestion.

    A bonus? If your soup contains pepper and garlic, those herbs are shown to help loosen mucus, too.

    4. Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup Offers Even More Benefits

    Chicken rice soup with vegetables in bowl and bread on rustic table.
    Photo Credit: Depositphotos

    A bowl of homemade chicken noodle soup is your best bet! Here’s why: The chicken offers a complete source of protein (which helps battle your infection), and the fresh vegetables contain plenty of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. 

    Unfortunately, canned chicken noodle soups don’t always cut it. The reason? Canned versions are typically lacking in antioxidant-rich ingredients and hearty vegetables. Although you can take comfort in the warmth of the broth, the true healing properties typically lie in homemade versions.

    That said, canned soup isn’t totally off the table! Teeman suggests staying away from ultra-processed options and checking the ingredient labels for a variety of vegetables.

    The Chicken Noodle Soup Recap

    Chicken noodle soup in bowl on wooden table
    Photo Credit: Depositphotos

    Like many of us, if you turn to chicken noodle soup when sick, you’re in luck — science suggests it’s a good idea!

    While a bowl of soup cannot cure your illness, it can certainly help relieve symptoms like stuffy nose, inflammation, and increased mucus. Try to rely on homemade versions for the most benefits, and remember to savor the broth, too!

    Need inspiration? Simply add chicken and noodles to our deliciously healthy Detox Vegetable Soup.

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