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Healthy or Unhealthy soups?

March 22, 2007

If there is anything that gets my goat it is a misleading ad and misleading claims on packaging. Of late some “Healthy Soups” have been launched in the market. But I would like to know whether they are healthy as compared to other synthetic soups…or to home-made soups? The impression the advertising and the packaging gives is that the soups are simply ‘healthy’ and this is an ambiguous statement. It implies that these soups come near to the healthiness of home-made soups. But you can decide for yourself how healthy these soups actually are.

Well, milk does seem to be present in these soups, but what about the other ingredients? The ingredient that is present in the largest quantity in Badam Soup for example is sugar! (The ingredients are listed in order of the quantity in which they are present). That is a big negative in my opinion. This is followed by milk powder (a positive) and then potato starch (negative) and 14 percent almond bits. Again, 14 percent is not too bad, but when I look at the other ingredients like maltodextrin, salt, edible vegetable oil, flavour enhancer, mixed spices, acidifying agent, thickening agent and wheat gluten I don’t see where the ‘healthiness’ is coming from. Okay, so these soups are not unhealthy as compared to some other trash available in the market…but why go as far as to call them ‘healthy’? Perhaps comparing the soup present to other synthetic soups would have been more honest.

But that was one of the better soups. Look at this one, the spinach soup. Milk powder seems to be the only nutritive ingredient here. True, they have roasted dal and tomato powder, and spinach flakes as well. But this comes after the sugar, milk powder, salt and potato powder so you can decide how much of it is actually present in your cuppa! Oh yes, don’t forget the additional flavours that have been included, probably to give the soups a spinach like taste.

And these are the ingredients of mixed vegetable soup. 😦 Wheat flour (which means maida), salt, milk solids ( a positive), edible vegetable oil, corn starch. Sure, carrot flakes, peas and cabbage bits are present too, but in smaller quantities. This soup has added flavourings.

The dal soup is slightly better than the others. Dal and tomato powder seem to be the main ingredients. The rest…well not too good…but at least the dal and the tomato are present in abundant quantities and gives authenticity to the claim that the soup is a Dal Tomato soup. But again, there are not only additional flavours present, but also colours. Even if the colours used are ‘natural’ colours, they give the impression that more of a certain ingredient is present than it actually is, and so I’m against it. The government has banned the use of colours in Tomato ketchup, so why can’t colours be banned in tomato soup as well?

And although nutrition information is given on the pack, I am not impressed. I feel more information should have been given, like the vitamin and mineral values. But ofcourse this is not mandatory by law.
Also, to be fair to the company there are some ingredients which are in high in water content (like tomato and vegetables) and in their dried form they are bound to be present in a lesser quantity than say, sugar. But all those flavour enhancers, thickening agents, acidifying agents, maida, white sugar, and colours definitely do not make these soups ‘healthy’ soups.

Related Reading: Vegetable and Dal noodles – are they healthy?
Misleading packaging by J&J’s Prickly Heat powder
Children demand advertised products and parents don’t say no
The chemicals we consume in our everyday food
Poisons in our food packaging
Why noodles and other white flour products are unhealthy
Destruction of essential vitamins due to cooking
Our moods are affected by what we eat

7 Comments leave one →
  1. March 22, 2007 9:34 am

    All these dried foods are merely for convenience of speed in preparation. They are chemically enhanced and cosmetically designed to be somewhat believable as facsimiles of the real thing, like a xerox print is a facsimile of an image and text. Something gets lost in the translation, and that usually is quality, nutritive or otherwise. The one advantage that dried and pre-prepared and canned soups may have is that less fuel is required to prepare them for eating. For a poor family, and I have personally experienced this, it is far most cost effective all around to prepare a pulse-based soup or stew that takes time to cook at low heat for a long time, and into which may be added vegetable ingredients in quantity to bring the necessary nutrients into the mix. One either spends the time or spends the money, but time spent yields more satisfactory results both for taste and nutrition. That is one lesson I learned from my family of Hungarian origin in post-WWll Hungary. I will never forget it. Some traditions should be clung onto for dear life, in all cultures. Food is essential, and food preparation and value cannot be rushed.

  2. March 22, 2007 10:19 am

    Thanks for your valuable input suburban.
    In India these foods are heavily taxed and out of the reach of the poor or even the lower middle classes. These are considered ‘luxury’ foods in India.
    However fuels etc are subsidised so the poor can afford them. Also the poor people cut wood and use that. Also, damaged vegetables and fruits are sold very cheaply here. In fact being a warm country, we have excellent production of fruits and vegetables. I remember a family friend of ours from Russia was shocked to see the abundance of fruits and vegetables here!
    A lot of our production goes to waste.

  3. March 22, 2007 6:47 pm

    You have read my mind.. Recently I have become annoyed by such misleading ads.. they fool the people and change healthy eating habits to fast food junk.

    Paani koi nahi mangega…drink packed orange juice
    Not amle ka murabba… chocolate, Nani

    and many more distracting ads… this should not be allowed, it is affecting food habits adversely.

    BTW, you are tagged

  4. March 23, 2007 10:27 am

    You are called upon to publish the 5th/last paragraph of page no.123 of the book presently you are reading.

  5. Mary S permalink
    February 4, 2008 10:29 pm

    Tell me something about egg drop soup. Is it bad for heart patients?

  6. February 4, 2008 11:55 pm

    @Mary: The egg yolk contains about 200-250 mg of Cholestrol. The permissible daily quantity for a healthy person, on a 2000 calorie diet is about 300-330mg. So I would reckon the yolk would not be permissible for heart patients as they need to watch their cholestrol. I would CHECK WITH A DOCTOR before making up my mind though.

    @Nita: All packaged ready-to-eat foods are always a let down. I am not sure if these packages HAVE TO publish all their ingredients by law, like in the US. I am assuming not, since MSG is always an ingredient in such soups and is a strict NO. I stay away from packaged soups, since it is quite easy to make your own soups.

  7. pankaja permalink
    January 25, 2009 10:58 pm

    hey nita could you let me know your career profile? I am TYBMM student and was doing a project on “misleading ads”. During the serach process i happened to come across this website and found the matter relevant. so i would be interested to to put your name or talk about this website as a source for my information. so could you please mail me the details about what this site is all about and a bit info about yourself.

    Okay. I will send you the infor tomorrow by email. – Nita.

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