As temperatures drop, you'll probably find yourself craving a hot bowl of soup more often—but a single serving of some of these fall staples can have as many calories as a Big Mac. And on top of the surprising amount of fat and calories in some brands, there is more than half a day's recommended amount of sodium in some types of soup, says Dr. Robert Vogel, chief medical director of the Pritikin Longevity Center in Aventura, Fla., and author of "The Pritikin Edge." How, then, to seek out something both hearty and heart-healthy? Look for clear soups with lots of vegetables or pasta, or make your own (and go easy on the salt.) In the meantime, avoid these:
1. Canned Soups: Grocery store soups are quick and easy, but many of them are high in trans fats and sodium, and a surprising number contain MSG. The dietary guideline for a full day's intake of sodium is 2,400mg, but some flavors have more than half that amount in a single serving. Generic condensed tomato soup contains 151 calories and 1,383mg of sodium per cup, according to calorieking.com. Vogel suggests reading the fine print on those labels. Look for lower sodium soups with less than 200 calories per portion and less than 20 percent of total calories from fat.
2. Powdered Soups: Because of the artificial additives present in powdered soup mix, these packets are even worse than canned soup: one serving of powdered cream of vegetable soup (prepared with water) contains 107 calories and 1,170mg of sodium, according to www.nutritiondata.com,190 calories, according to nutrientdata.com.
3. Anything Creamy: These soups may taste good, but they won't be too kind to your waistline. Their texture comes from whole milk, cream or cheese added to vegetable and meat ingredients, which can add more than 14 grams of saturated fat per serving, or three quarters of the recommended daily limit, according to dietdetective.com. Denny's cream of broccoli soup contain 574 calories and 43 grams of fat, and its New England clam chowder contains 624 calories and 42 grams of fat.
4. Add-Ons: Resist the temptation to grab that fistful of crackers or add a dash of salt. A bowl of French onion soup, served with cheese on top and bread on the side, can top 700 calories, according to dietdetective.com.