Is It Healthy To Eat First Courses?

There is no unambiguous view in society about the meaning of consumption and the benefits of soups and other first courses. On the one hand, we grew up hearing about the threat of a spoiled stomach if we refused soup, and on the other hand, we have the example of many cultures, particularly in Europe and the United States, where we do not understand the first course in principle.

Nutritionists and gastroenterologists also give different and often mutually exclusive recommendations. So what should we do: eat or not eat soup, and what are the consequences of both?

Let’s agree that the first course here is liquid, cooked food based on vegetables or meat, mushroom or fish broth with or without the addition of cereals.

Some experts consider it inappropriate to consume liquid before the main course, as it dilutes digestive juices and makes chemical processing of food less effective. But research shows that extractives from vegetables (cabbage, for example) or nitrogenous compounds in meat broths increase acid formation in the stomach, stimulating the release of the hormone gastrin into the bloodstream, which acts directly on the secretory apparatus of the stomach.

Hence the first conclusion – soups should be consumed with caution by people with hypersecretory conditions (high acidity), and for people with low acidity, the former is, on the contrary, mandatory. And the second conclusion is that by stimulating the secretion of digestive juices, first courses contribute to a better and faster breakdown of the components of the main course, which usually contains a lot of protein and a lot of fat.

Some nutritionists and doctors suggest replacing the soup with a light vegetable salad or steamed or baked vegetables. However, the first course is primarily fluid, which we need about 2 liters a day to maintain optimal water and salt balance and blood pressure.

In addition, soup or borscht is usually consumed warm, which facilitates digestion and warms up in cold weather. Therefore, the third conclusion is that first courses are a source of liquid, heat and, due to their diverse composition, a large amount of nutrients.

And finally, a portion of soup, broth, or borscht is a familiar volume with a significantly lower calorie content. Thanks to the mechanical stretching of the stomach, the brain feels full much earlier (before the digested food components enter the bloodstream and a true feeling of satiety is formed), so we will definitely not eat too much. There are a number of effective soup diets for those who want to lose weight but do not intend to limit the amount of food they eat.

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Written by Bella Adams

I'm a professionally-trained, executive chef with over ten years in Restaurant Culinary and hospitality management. Experienced in specialized diets, including Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw foods, whole food, plant-based, allergy-friendly, farm-to-table, and more. Outside of the kitchen, I write about lifestyle factors that impact well-being.

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