Two words: whole foods. Each ingredient in this carrot coconut soup is real; there’s no modified food starch, potassium chloride, soy protein isolate, caramel color, or monosodium glutamate (MSG), which are examples of the additives commonly found in canned soups.
When you make homemade soup, you control the ingredients, which means that the end product is not only far more delicious but far healthier, too. In the carrot coconut soup recipe that follows, for instance, you’ll find a rich assortment of veritable superfoods, which you get to enjoy in each and every bowl.
Coconut milk is made from the expressed juice of grated coconut meat and water. About 50 percent of the fat in coconut oil is lauric acid, which is rarely found in nature. Your body converts lauric acid into monolaurin, a monoglyceride that can actually destroy lipid-coated viruses such as HIV and herpes, influenza, measles, gram-negative bacteria, and protozoa such as Giardia lamblia.
Lauric acid is a type of medium chain fatty acid (MCFAs), which is easily digested and readily crosses cell membranes. MCFAs are immediately converted by your liver into energy rather than being stored as fat.
There are numerous studies showing that MCFAs promote weight loss, including one study that showed rats fed MCFAs reduced body fat and improved insulin sensitivity and glucose tolerance.1
Yet another study found that overweight men who ate a diet rich in MCFAs lost more fat tissue, presumably due to increased energy expenditure and fat oxidation from the MCFA intake.2 In addition, coconut milk is rich in antioxidants and nutrients, including vitamins C, E and B vitamins, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and iron.
Carrots are rich in beta-carotene (pre-vitamin A), vitamin K1, vitamin C, and calcium. I generally recommend eating carrots in moderation because they contain more sugar than any other vegetable aside from beets.
However, when eaten as part of an overall healthy diet, the nutrients in carrots may provide you with protection against heart disease and stroke while helping you to build strong bones and a healthy nervous system. In particular, carrots are associated with a 32 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease3 and a lower risk of heart attacks in women.4
Antioxidants in carrots, including beta-carotene, may also play a role in cancer prevention. Research has shown that smokers who eat carrots more than once a week have a lower risk of lung cancer,5 while a beta-carotene-rich diet may also protect against prostate cancer.6
Using carrots in soup may be ideal, as the nutrients such as beta-carotene and phenolic acids appear to increase when carrots are cooked.7
Homemade broth or "stock" is a powerful food as it’s easily digestible, helps heal the lining of your gut, and contains valuable nutrients that promote healing throughout your body.
The gelatin found in bone broth is a hydrophilic colloid that attracts and holds liquids, including digestive juices, thereby supporting proper digestion.
Bone broth also reduces joint pain and inflammation courtesy of chondroitin sulfates, glucosamine, and other compounds extracted from the boiled down cartilage.
Amino acids such as glycine, proline, and arginine in bone broth all have anti-inflammatory effects, and bone broth contains high amounts of calcium, magnesium, and other nutrients that play an important role in healthy bone formation. You can learn how to make your own homemade bone broth here.
Orange-colored sweet potatoes owe their appearance to the carotenoid beta-carotene. As an antioxidant, beta-carotene can help ward off free radicals that damage cells through oxidation, which can speed up aging and make you vulnerable against chronic diseases.
This antioxidant can help support your immune system, as well as lower your risk of heart disease and cancer. Research shows that sweet potatoes can help regulate blood sugar because of their ability to raise blood levels of adiponectin, a protein hormone created by your fat cells, to help regulate how your body metabolizes insulin.
Sweet potato extract is said to help reduce inflammation in brain and nerve tissue throughout your body. The phytonutrients within sweet potatoes also influence fibrinogen, an important glycoprotein required for blood clotting. Together with thrombin and fibrin, balanced amounts of fibrinogen are important for wound healing and blood loss prevention.
Onions are rich in sulfur-containing compounds and other phytochemicals that may boost heart health, offer protection against cancer and diabetes, boost bone health, and more.
They’re anti-allergic, anti-histaminic, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant, and onions have a particularly high concentration of beneficial polyphenols, with more polyphenols than garlic, leeks, tomatoes, carrots, and red bell pepper.
Onions contain numerous anti-cancer compounds, including quercetin, which has been shown to decrease cancer tumor initiation as well as inhibit the proliferation of cultured ovarian, breast, and colon cancer cells.8 As reported by the National Onion Association, onions are considered a dietary anti-carcinogen.9
Fresh garlic is a potent antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-fungal agent with immune-boosting effects. It’s thought that much of garlic’s therapeutic effect comes from its sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin, which are also what give it its characteristic smell.
Other health-promoting compounds include oligosaccharides, arginine-rich proteins, selenium and flavonoids. Research has revealed that as allicin digests in your body, it produces sulfenic acid, a compound that reacts with dangerous free radicals faster than any other known compound.10 This is one of the reasons why I named garlic as one of the top seven anti-aging foods you can consume.
Ginger is one of the best natural remedies if you struggle with motion sickness or nausea, and it is a powerful anti-inflammatory, which makes it a valuable tool for pain relief. Ginger also has broad-spectrum antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant, and anti-parasitic properties, to name just several of its more than 40 pharmacological actions.
In addition, ginger shows promise for fighting cancer, diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, asthma, bacterial, and fungal infections, and because it is a thermogenic substance, it also has beneficial impacts on metabolism and fat storage.
Turmeric, the yellow-pigmented "curry spice" often used in Indian cuisine, contains curcumin, the polyphenol identified as its primary active component and which exhibits over 150 potentially therapeutic activities, which include antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties. Curcumin is capable of crossing the blood-brain barrier, which is one reason why it holds promise as a neuroprotective agent in a wide range of neurological disorders.
Researchers have investigated curcumin for its potential role in improving Parkinson's disease, for instance, along with dementia. Curcumin also has the most evidence-based literature supporting its use against cancer of any other nutrient studied, and it’s also shown promise for many other health benefits, from enhancing wound healing to protecting against cataracts.