07.12.2023 Health & Fitness

Light soup improves immunity

Light soup improves immunity
07.12.2023 LISTEN

Light soup is the Ghanaian version of Nigeria’s pepper soup. It is made with pepper, tomatoes, fish as well as other spices. However, the soup is native to the GaDangme people also known as the Ga people, located in the Greater Accra Region in Ghana.

Also known as Aklor, the light soup is formulated as a tomato-based sea fish light soup at first.

Detailing the information, , reasoned that the soup was popular with the fishermen along the coast of Accra. But with time, the popularity of the soup grew and the content of the soup also grew to include goat meat, lamb meat, beef, and other meat of livestock of choice.

The increasing popularity of the soup also gave birth to the development of other dishes formed around this Ghanaian light soup.

For instance, there is the Komi Ke Aklor which is the Light Soup Garnished with Blended and Cooked Okro, and Yele Ke Aklor which is the Light Soup Garnished with chops of boiled yam, among others.

The ingredients consist of tomatoes and chili peppers. Others are optional. One study by Zhu and Hollis(2013) found that soup consumption is associated with a reduced risk of overweight and obesity.

Another study conducted by Farzana et al.(2017) to develop a healthy vegetable soup powder supplemented with soy flour, mushroom, and moringa leaf and compare its nutritional facts with locally available soup powders. The study found that the developed soy–mushroom–moringa soup powder is nutritionally superior to locally available soup powders and sufficient to meet day‐to‐day nutritional requirements as a supplement.

Appiah et al.(2020) study explores the proximate composition of selected Ghanaian soups from defined recipes and photographically present quantities of the soups, measured with common Ghanaian household food measures, equivalent to servings of protein and carbohydrates. Two types of each conveniently selected soup (light soup, groundnut soup, kontomire (cocoyam leaves) soup, and palm nut soup) were prepared; one with animal protein and the other without. The soups prepared include; LS1- light soup with garden eggplant (African eggplant); LS2- light soup with garden eggplant and chicken GS1- groundnut (peanut butter) soup without animal protein; GS2- groundnut soup with chicken; PS1- palm nut soup without animal protein; PS2- palm nut soup with smoked catfish and herrings. Proximate analysis was done to determine the macronutrient content of all the soups. Each soup was measured using a household food measure (150 ml soup ladle) to obtain a 15 g carbohydrate and 7 g protein equivalent and then photographed. The carbohydrate content of the soups ranged between 1.18 g-8.43 g, protein was between 0.34 g-4.31 g and 0.14 g-7.78 g for fat per 100 g of edible portion. Palm nut soup with animal source protein had the highest carbohydrate (8.43 ± 0.86 g) and fiber (1.99 ±0.22 g) content. Soups with the highest protein and fat content were GS2 (4.29 ± 0.14 g) and PS1 (20.39 ± 3.54 g) respectively. Serving sizes of the soups prepared ranged approximately between 1-8½ soup ladles (using 150 ml soup ladle) per 15 g carbohydrate equivalence and 1-13 soup ladles (using 150 ml soup ladle) per 7 g protein equivalence. It took variable quantities of the prepared soups to obtain the target serving sizes with PS2 having the least quantity (~1 soup ladle) for 15 g carbohydrate serving and PS1 having the least amount (~1 soup ladle) for 7 g protein serving. The large serving size of most of the soups required to meet a serving of protein implied that those soups should be eaten together with food sources rich in protein, to appreciably enhance the protein intake of individuals.

Another interesting review by Ito K(2020) found that despite the higher consumption of salt by Japanese than Westerners. It has been reported that miso soup was one of the major sources of daily salt intake in Japanese people. Adding salt is indispensable to make miso, and therefore, in some cases, refraining from miso soup is recommended to reduce dietary salt intake. However, recent studies using salt-sensitive hypertensive models have revealed that miso lessens the effects of salt on blood pressure. In other words, the intake of miso does not increase the blood pressure compared to the equivalent intake of salt.

Miso is a traditional Japanese soybean paste made from fermented soybeans. It is often prepared into a soup and is one of the major components of Japanese-style cooking. One serving of miso soup contains 1–2 g of salt, and the addition of salt is indispensable to miso preparation. Okada et al.(2018) reports have demonstrated that a Japanese-style diet reduces total mortality and is associated with a longer survival time(Zhang et al. 2006).

In exploring their diets, Suzuki et al.(2018) study separated Japanese dietary constituents into 16 categories and revealed that the top 3 categories are soybeans/soybean-derived products, seafood, and vegetables, followed by rice and miso soup. Miso is also a soybean product. Therefore, soybean products are considered to contribute to the health benefits of Japanese-style diets.

This is just one aspect, miso is a fermented soybean product. Jayachandran et al(2019) study found that fermentation is reported to improve the quality of soybeans, resulting in increased digestibility, enhanced nutrition, and increased isoflavone content. Therefore, fermented soybean products are expected to have greater health benefits than nonfermented soybean products.

Another study by Nozue et al.(2017) revealed that the intake of fermented soy products, but not nonfermented soy products, is inversely associated with developing high blood pressure in subjects with normal blood pressure.

A more recent study by Li et al.(2022) compares the immunomodulatory effects of chicken soups prepared with native free-range chickens and commercial caged broilers in immunosuppressive mice. The chicken soups promoted the recovery of immunosuppressive mice, but the expression mechanisms were different. The study concluded that soups from the native free-range chickens and the commercial caged broilers showed distinctly different mechanisms in promoting immunity, both could be used as potential immunomodulators.

Pepper (Capsicum spp.)
Bogusz et al.(2015) found that pepper is a fruit from the Solanaceae plant family, very popular in parts of the world due to its color and aroma attributes. Another study found that the color of the peppers varies from green to black; yellow, orange, and red peppers too. The color of peppers depends on the maturity stage: green peppers are harvested before reaching maturity and red peppers are the most mature and have the sweetest taste(Mitic et al. 2016).

Mendes et al.(2020) study also revealed that different species of peppers exist, but only five species are mainly used: Capsicum. annuum; Capsicum. baccatum; Capsicum. Chinese; Capsicum. frutescens and Capsicum. Pubescens.

Rodrigues et al.(2019) study revealed that peppers, in general, have made a huge contribution to human nutrition due to their carotenes, polyphenols, antioxidant properties, fatty acids (including palmitic (16:0), oleic (18:1n-9), and linoleic (18:2n-6) acids), vitamins (C and E) and mineral substances. The main phenolics compounds found in peppers pulp are ferulic acid (404-2661 µg/kg of fresh weight (fw)), ellagic acid (896–2434 µg/kg fw), synaptic acid (181–2025 µg/kg fw), naringenin (73–968 µg/kg fw), vanillic acid (45–149 µg/kg fw), caffeic acid (38–63 µg/kg fw), 4-hydroxybenzoic acid (18–37 µg/kg fw), and p-coumaric acid (14–69 µg/kg fw). Most flavonoids found in peppers are aglycones and glycosides of myricetin, quercetin, luteolin, apigenin, and kaempferol(Mendes et al. 2020).

Carvalho et al.(2019) study also found that carotenoids can act as antioxidants and can impact the flavor of the peppers. The total carotenoid level in pepper is between 59.86 and 1349.97 µg/g.

Baenas et al.(2019) also revealed that the carotenoids found in peppers are α-carotene (0.020 mg/100 g fw), β-carotene (0.5–1.64 mg/100 g fw), β-cryptoxanthin (0.5–1.2 mg/100 g fw), and non-provitamin A carotenoids (lutein + zeaxanthin) with values between 6 to 51 mg/100 g fw.

The orange-colored pepper is a source of zeaxanthin. Lutein, however, is the most abundant carotenoid in yellow peppers(Mendes et al. 2020).

Two studies (Baenas et al. 2019; Mendes et al. 2020) also showed that ascorbic acid is another important bioactive in pepper species and some varieties of pepper contain about twice as much vitamin C as orange. Vitamin C in peppers reported in the literature varied between 127 to 327.29 mg of ascorbic acid/100 g dw (dry weight). Peppers contain other vitamins such as B6, A, K, and E. Α and γ-tocopherol are found in large quantities in pepper, which are located in the tissue of the pericarp and seeds, respectively. The most common minerals found in peppers, ordered from a lower to higher content are selenium, copper, boron, manganese, zinc, iron, sodium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium(Baenas et al. 2019).

A more recent study by Semaniuk et al.(2022) showed that the regular use of chili peppers improves healthspan in humans. Indeed, chili pepper fruits contain phenolic substances which are structurally similar to those that show anti-aging properties. Chili powder added to food in concentrations of 0.04%-0.12% significantly extended the median lifespan in fruit fly cohorts of both genders by 9% to 13%. However, food supplemented with 3% chili powder shortened the lifespan of male cohorts by 9%.

A previous report by the American Heart Association(2020) revealed that consumption of chili peppers may reduce the relative risk of cardiovascular disease mortality by 26%, according to an analysis of diet and mortality data from four large, international studies. Chili pepper consumption was associated with a 25% reduction in death from any cause and 23% fewer cancer deaths, compared to people who never or only rarely consumed chili pepper.

Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum)
World Producer Tomato Council(2020) reports that the tomato is the most-produced vegetable in the world. It is consumed both fresh and processed as canned tomato, tomato puree, tomato paste, and tomato juice and included in a multitude of dishes and sauces. Tomatoes are rich in potassium (204–248 mg/100 g), sodium (13–42 mg/100 g), calcium (5–13 mg/100 g), magnesium (8–12 mg/100 g), phosphorous (28–36 mg/100 g), vitamin A (90 μg eq. retinol/100 g), vitamin C (9–23.4 mg/100 g), and vitamin E (0.38 mg eq. tocopherol).

Viuda-Martos et al.(2014) also found that tomato has important bioactive compounds and antioxidant components such as polyphenolic compounds, carotenoids, folates, ascorbic acid, and vitamin E.

Tomatoes are packed with several nutrients that are quite beneficial to human health. Specifically, tomatoes are rich in vitamin C, potassium, vitamin K, and folate. Studies suggest that tomatoes can prevent heart disease and cancer. With tomatoes being one of the major ingredients of light soup, you do enjoy the health benefits of tomatoes.

Also, fish contain a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids and other vital vitamins—vitamin D and B2. Fish is also linked with having a considerable amount of calcium and phosphorus. These nutrients in fish can help prevent heart disease, boost brain health, and more.

Willcox et al.(2003) study revealed that the high levels of vitamin C in tomato soup may provide arterial protection, strengthen the heart, and protect it from diseases like blockage of arteries and stroke. It may also help to reduce the deposition of fats in the blood vessels, reducing bad cholesterol. Tomato soup may be able to prevent the clumping of platelet cells in the blood.

A previous study by Agarwal and Rao(2000) also revealed that tomato soup comes packed with lycopene, the pigment that gives the fruit its bright color. Processed tomatoes contain more lycopene than raw ones. Lycopene neutralizes the oxidative damage caused by the free radicals, a molecule that causes aging. A diet rich in lycopene can also help fight chronic diseases and stroke.

Another study by Marinova et al.(2017) found selenium in tomato soup to promote blood circulation , preventing anemia. One of the amazing benefits of tomato soup! One serving of tomato soup provides 7 micrograms of selenium, amounting to 11% of the daily recommended allowance.

Another study by Opazo et al.(2014) also revealed that due to the high concentration of copper in tomato soup, it boosts the nervous system. Potassium aids in the transmission of nerve signals. All these ensure that your mental health remains top-notch.

Weight Loss
A study by Li et al.(2015) established that consuming tomatoes may benefit weight loss. It can be very beneficial for those who are on a weight-loss diet . It is rich in water and fiber that keeps you full for a longer time. Dieters recommend tomato soup as a low-calorie and low-fat diet for the body as a yummy way to lose weight.

Tomato soup contains antioxidants like lycopene and carotenoid, which can help in the possibility of cancer prevention in both men and women. The high levels of antioxidants in tomato soup reduce oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. Old studies by (Edward Giovannucci. 1999; Story et al. 2010) found that eating tomato soup thrice a week may help to prevent breast, prostate, and colon cancer. It also protects the body from stomach and colorectal cancer.

Male Fertility
Goyal and Chopra(2007) study shows that consuming tomatoes and tomato-based products may boost fertility in men. Lycopene in tomato soup can improve sperm motility. The antioxidants in tomatoes also help to scavenge free radicals, which can cause infertility in men. So, if you are trying to conceive, add tomato soup to your diet!

Two studies (Saleem A. Banihani. 2017; Hua et al. 2012) found that tomato soup contains chromium, a mineral that helps in the regulation of blood sugar.

Tomatoes contain 84% water and other essential nutrients that may help replenish body fluids.

Because the soups are liquid and contain water and other hydrating elements. The soup’s sodium content also plays a role in retaining water, helping the body stay properly hydrated (Ray et al. 1985).

A recent study by Collins et al.(2022) found that tomato soup may boost immunity mainly due to the presence of lycopene, beta-carotene, and vitamin C in tomatoes. Vitamin C boosts immune cells like T-lymphocytes and natural killer cells that are crucial for fighting infections and cancer. Also, beta-carotene improves the activity of immune cells. These compounds in tomatoes help reinforce the body’s immune response against diseases.

Grillo et al.(2019) study found that tomato soup contains high high sodium content. A bowl of tomato soup contains one-third of the daily limit. The excessive consumption of sodium increases blood pressure, which can damage the kidneys, heart, and blood vessels.

Key Takeaways

  • Tomato soup is super rich in vitamins C and A, which provide 20% of the daily recommended value of vitamins.
  • It may improve bone and cardiovascular health and aid in weight loss.


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Prof. Nyarkotey has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations to justify his write-ups. My articles are for educational purposes and do not serve as Medical advice for Treatment. I aim to educate the public about evidence-based scientific Naturopathic Therapies.

Prof. Raphael Nyarkotey Obu is a full professor of Naturopathic Healthcare. E-mail: [email protected] . This article is for educational purposes and awareness only.