Health questions: is tomato soup good for you?

Cooking tomatoes into a nourishing soup might just give you that extra boost of lycopene and vitamin A you’re looking for.

The red pigments, vitamins and potassium in fresh tomatoes make them a healthy addition to your diet, and cooking them helps release their goodness. Photo: Shutterstock
Regular consumption of lycopene – the main carotenoid, or pigment, responsible for tomatoes’ vibrant red colour – has been linked to a lowering of LDL cholesterol (also known as “bad” cholesterol) levels in the body, a recognised risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. That’s according to a 2011 review published in the international health journal Maturitas.
Beta carotene – the second main carotenoid in tomatoes – gets converted into vitamin A upon consumption, says a 2022 fact sheet published by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH). It explains that consuming vitamin A is key to keeping your eyesight and immune system at peak health.

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Cooking can increase the bioavailability – the potential for uptake by our bodies – of lycopene and beta carotene in tomatoes, since the heat breaks down cell walls in tomatoes.

That’s a good reason to opt for tomato soup the next time you’re craving tomatoes.

Tomatoes also contain plenty of vitamin C. The same goes for popular soup aromatics such as garlic and onion, says the NIH, which offer additional antiviral and antibacterial properties.

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It is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning it dissolves upon contact with water.

Fortunately for those who enjoy eating soup, this means the nutrients present in your soup ingredients remain intact as you add water to the pot to bring it to a boil.

Draining your bowl of tomato soup isn’t just good for nutrition. The built-in water content does double duty and keeps you hydrated, too.

As well as its many nutritional benefits, tomato soup’s water content helps keep you hydrated. Photo: Shutterstock
Fresh tomatoes also contain plenty of dietary fibre. Essential to your digestive health, dietary fibre increases your immunity, promotes regular bowel movements, and fosters heart health as well.

Of all the benefits of having a bowl of tomato soup, this may be the greatest: high consumption of tomatoes and the lycopene they contain is associated with a lower risk of dying from cancer.

That is the conclusion of a US study, published in the journal Public Health Nutrition in 2020 using data from more than 22,000 adults in The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

To get the most powerful nutritional punch, consider whipping up a home-made tomato soup. Store-bought varieties can be laden with sodium and added sugars.

Canned tomato soup is convenient, but for the most powerful nutritional punch cook your own. Photo: Getty Images
Feel free to get creative, and consider topping off your tasty soup with some basil leaves for that extra freshness factor and added immune protection. Chickpeas – chock full of fibre and protein – and pumpkin seeds, which are rich in antioxidants, iron, zinc, magnesium, and many other nutrients, also work as healthful additions.

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