WEDNESDAY, Dec. 26, 2018 (HealthDay News) -- Many people rely on chicken noodle soup to soothe a cold, but few know exactly why the warm broth brings relief.
But one dietitian can explain its magic.
"Studies have shown that a hearty bowl of chicken noodle soup may help clear nasal congestion and ease cold symptoms," said Sandy Allonen, a clinical dietitian at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. "It's all about the ingredients."
When you have a cold, it's also important to stay hydrated, she added.
"A clear broth is warm and soothing, making it a great source of hydration while you're sick, especially if you have a sore throat," Allonen said in a hospital news release.
"You may think added salt and other seasonings aren't great for you, but in moderation, these spices can help combat the feeling of dull taste buds," she noted. "A loss of taste is common in a cold, but as with any flavor enhancer, salt is great for getting you to eat more."
The chicken in your soup offers a number of benefits. It's high in protein that helps the immune system, and is also a good source of vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins, which boost immunity and help with digestion.
"Chicken is also high in tryptophan, which helps your body produce serotonin that can enhance your mood and give you the feeling of 'comfort' that helps make chicken noodle soup a true comfort food," Allonen said.
The noodles provide carbohydrates that help you feel full and satisfied. "Carbs are the preferred source of energy for your body, so getting in a good dose through soup can help you feel less sluggish," Allonen said.
Vegetables such as carrots, celery, and onion have vitamins C and K, and other antioxidants and minerals. "Not only does this help build a healthy immune system to fight off viruses, it also helps your body recover from illness more quickly," Allonen said.
Even the steam from your chicken soup is beneficial.
"Steam can open up airways, making it easier to breathe. It also has a mild anti-inflammatory effect that can help relax your muscles and soothe the discomforts of cold symptoms," Allonen said.
The American Lung Association has more on the common cold.
SOURCE: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, news release, December 2018