Can Chicken Broth Really Help With A Cold?

When we were children, our parents often made us chicken broth when we had a sore throat or a cough. “Eat some broth and it will go away,” they used to say. As adults, when we inhale the aroma of the broth and eat a couple of spoonfuls, we feel not only warm and satiated, but that it really does make us feel better. What is it: just our positive emotions or the real benefits of chicken broth?

Chicken broth clears the airways

Chicken broth can fight colds thanks to cysteine. It is an amino acid that liquefies mucus in the airways and lungs. 

TIP: Put the poultry in cold water and cook the broth on a low heat without skimming off the foam (this is the curdled protein). Don’t let the foam bother you in this case, it is good for you. Usually the foam is removed for the sake of clarity of the broth.

In 1978, researchers from Mount Sinai Medical Center, USA, tested a very peculiar study. They decided to find out whether cold water, hot water and chicken broth were good for clearing nasal passages. It turned out that hot liquids were much better at clearing the airways than cold water. And chicken soup was the winner in this competition. Of course, no one advises cleaning the nose with the broth, but the fact that mucus retreats before the invigorating power of chicken cysteine is a fact. Clearly, the easier mucus and phlegm are removed, the faster the body fights off the viruses that cause colds.

Conclusion: The amino acid cysteine in chicken broth liquefies sputum that forms in the bronchi during inflammation, which helps to cough it up.

Chicken broth against inflammation

When viruses have settled in the nasal passage, the body releases cytokines. These proteins work as cell signallers and regulate the body’s immune response to external stimuli. Essentially, they sound the alarm, crying out for help. Sensing their alarming state, blood vessels dilate and increase blood flow to the area in danger. The body sends more white blood cells, the main protectors of our immune system, to the hot spot. In this case, blood flow increases the fight against the virus, with white blood cells migrating into the respiratory tract, leading to inflammation, a response to viruses.

Chicken broth has been shown to reduce inflammation. Interestingly, both ‘grandma’s’ broth and even some concentrated broths, such as Campbell’s can soup, praised by American artist Andy Warhol, can do this.

Research published in 2012 reports that a chemical called carnosine suppresses cold-causing reactions. And this same “carnosine,” a powerful antioxidant, is found, among other things, in chicken. White meat has a higher concentration of carnosine than dark meat, and turkey has even more carnosine than chicken.

IMPORTANT: Carnosine is not limited to fighting colds. It also maintains acid-alkaline balance, improves skin condition, helps fight aging, increases muscle resistance to physical stress, increasing the body’s endurance, and improves brain function. Good sources of carnosine are eggs, various types of dairy products, including cheese.

Chicken broth as an aid to recovery

There is no perfect recipe for chicken broth, but onions, carrots, celery tuber and/or stalk, garlic and ginger (in an Asian variation) are most commonly used to make it. It’s these ingredients that make chicken broth the star of the body’s recovery. Carrots, for example, are rich in vitamin A, which strengthens the strength of white blood cells and helps them fight infections better. It’s a stable vitamin that suffers little or no damage from heat treatment. 

Interestingly, a 2001 blind placebo study showed that participants who received garlic recovered from colds faster than those who received a placebo.

Conclusion: don’t be in a hurry to give up vegetables when making chicken broth. Just don’t overpower them with an abundance of the flavour of the chicken itself!

Even if chicken broth only cures us through the fondest memories of childhood, still cook and eat it. There must be at least something in the world as permanent and reliable as homemade chicken broth!

Chicken broth with dumplings

Aromatic chicken broth, and even with dumplings – for a recipe for such a soup, any mother would say thank you. Except maybe Jewish, because every Jewish mother has her own version of the healing chicken broth. It’s a sure cure for colds, and the dumplings are responsible for nourishment. 

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