Have A “Soupy” Day

An observation that I have made over my many years of practice as a dietitian is that, many Ghanaians do not like drinking soup. A typical Ghanaian will take waakye and fish with shit) for breakfast, kenkey and fish for lunch and rice with stew for supper. This can go on all week without any soup being drunk.

Soups are nutrient filled foods that are useful for the nourishment of the body.

Benefits of drinking soups. They are:

Add up to your fluid intake - Many people, especially ladies, find it difficult drinking water and easily get dehydrated. One of the ways of augmenting your fluid intake is to drink soups because they are filled with water. I know you may like “thick” soup but it is also beneficial to add soups that are light in consistency. If you drink about 500mls to 1 litre of soup a day, you would have supplied about a fourth of your daily fluid needs.

Are filled with dissolved nutrients - Most soups contain about three or more vegetables- The steaming of vegetables, fish and meat with enough natural spices enables the nutrients to be released from the food items into the soup. These dissolved nutrients are readily available to the human being since they are easily absorbed. So drinking soups is not drinking just water but one with many dissolved nutrients like vitamins and minerals, which offer protection from diseases.

Offer a pleasant flavor and aroma that stimulates appetite - Another great attribute of soups is the pleasant aroma that comes out of it, especially, when it is simmering on fire. Many have stories of feeling noises in their stomachs from the aroma of someone’s soup while they pass by the kitchen window of their neighbor. Even when people have lost appetite, they cannot help but want to drink a hot soup that is laden with good scented natural spices like cloves, “prekese”, ginger, rosemary, basil leaves and the like.

Help reach early satiety - Another great nutritional use of soups is that they help reduce caloric intake by causing early satiety. Dietitians or Nutritionists advice many who want to lose weight to drink low oil soups before eating their main staples like rice and plantain. This is because they make feel full early due to the high fibre and fluid content.  This helps in reducing the quantity of food one eats. It is therefore, good for persons living with diabetes who want to reduce the portions of food they eat.

Help convalescing persons - It is not for nothing that when a person develops fever or is hit with malaria, our mothers prepare chicken broth light soup for us to drink. This is helpful in aiding recovery since they contain fluids, vitamins B1,B2, B3, B9,B6 and B12 that form part of the B complex vitamin and are noted for boosting appetite. So as far your dietitian does not advice against it for any peculiar medical condition, drinking some soups when you are not well or recovering from a disease is helpful.


Things To Note And Be Cautious About

Mix Soups - I advise that we mix our regular soups for increased nutrients. Try Kontomire Soup (ebunuebunu), a typical light soup mixed with Kontomire or Abe-konto, palm nut soup with kontomire. How about Abe- Nkati- konto –palmnut and ground nut soups mixed with kontomire. These help add up to the nutrients in the soup.

Serve it warm - One of the best ways to enjoy soups and not have stomach disturbances is when you serve it warm. It brings out the flavor and aroma that makes one salivate for an enjoyable meal that involve all your senses.

Don’t overdo the meat or fish - Typically, many a Ghanaian will have their soups laden with a lot of meat and fish such that one even finds difficulty in stirring. One will see soups also served with so much fat laden meat and this can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Reduce the oil - Having a thick layer of oil on our soups may not be the best for our health. A conscious effort to scoop off some of the oil on soups such as groundnut and palm nut soup will also reduce the calories present and help us to take in a bit more without risking weight gain.

So please replace some of the fried stews, grounded pepper and shit) with a light soup when taking your rice or kontomire soup when taking your Kenkey. Try different soups and make sure you have a soupy day today and every day.

Life is precious so eat to live.

Nana Kofi Owusu

Registered Dietitian/Lecturer/TV Host.

[email protected]