Wheat-watch: Campbell’s Healthy Request Tomato Soup

You thought tomatoes were good for you?

They are . . . unless, of course, some peculiar ingredients are added.

Campbell’s Healthy Request Tomato Soup contains:

tomato puree
high fructose corn syrup
wheat flour
sea salt
vegetable oil
ascorbic acid
citric acid

What is wheat flour doing in tomato soup? Isn’t tomato soup supposed to be, well, tomato? Add a little salt, or some herbs like cilantro or basil–but wheat flour? And high-fructose corn syrup? “Vegetable oil” means corn, cottonseed, canola, or soybean . . . you know, the ones that disrupt inflammatory pathways.

Examine the can and you will notice that it comes complete with an endorsement from the American Heart Association because it’s low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Oh, boy.

Even though “wheat flour” is down the ingredient list as third item, it still contains the gliadin protein that stimulates appetite and makes you want to eat more soup, more bread, more total food. It still contains lectins that increase intestinal permeability and trigger inflammatory responses. It still contains the unique wheat-related carbohydate, amylopectin A, that increases blood sugar and insulin more than nearly all other foods.

For all practical purposes, Campbells Healthy Request Tomato soup is . . . wheat. If you think this is an accident, then take a look at this commentary by a public relationships expert. Mmm mmm good!

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Lisa

    It’s gotten to the point that it takes forever at the grocery store. Things you thought were healthy are far from it. HFCS. I’m to the point that I’m just tired of seeing it in print. Something needs to be done to get this crap out of our food. No wonder America is obese.

    • Simple solution: buy the *ingredients* for whatever you want to eat instead of whatever it is. This has the added benefit that the more elementary the form in which you buy food, the cheaper it is. Want some chicken? Buy a WHOLE chicken. Buy in bulk, too. Feel like some tomato soup? Buy a big can of tomato puree and some spices. The cooking process is basically the same, but you eat real, good food.

      When I go to the grocery store for food, any more, I hit the produce section, the meats, dairy, and then I *might* hit canned/frozen vegetables. There are a couple of specific things I detour for (my coconut milk drink is in the baking section, don’t ask me why). Stay in those sections, though, and you’ll be hard-pressed to mess yourself up.

      There are still a few small pitfalls: cured meats often contain HFCS or sugar (although the amount of sugar is usually miniscule so you can manage with it), and tomato SAUCE often contains wheat and/or HFCS. Also, you want to avoid the potatoes in the produce section.

        • Dr. Davis,
          I am a new Wheat Belly groupie ! I was living on 10 tums a day because I bought into the whole grain lie. One bite of my healthy whole grain sandwich and my stomach and esophagus were on fire. I am three weeks into my new wheat free lifestyle and I am a new person. I have been making the recipes in the back of the book. I have to hide the pumpkin muffins because my husband chows down on them. I made the pizza and i guess just knowing that the crust was cauliflower was sort of a turn off. I have been mashing the cauliflower as a side dish. I have lost a couple of inches in the waist. Thank you so much for the work you are doing. I am committed !!!

          • That’s great, Kassie!

            Relief from the gastrointestinal destruction of wheat is an especially prominent effect for people. I, too, remember how awful it used to be.

            I hear you on the cauliflower crust. There are recipes out there that generate a low-carb but stiffer crust, but I’ve not tried them. One recipe, I’m told, uses sausage (uncured, of course!). Another uses dehydrated powdered vegetable “flour.”

      • Linda

        Yes, totally agree with your shopping “route”.
        I actually think it now takes less time to shop than before. I also hit the perimeter and then venture into the inner aisles only for a few odds and ends such as coffee, Torani Sugar Free Syrups, frozen veggies such as green beans and cauliflower, sugar free relish, mustard, a spice or two, etc.
        I always have a list and I stick to it pretty well, unless I see grass fed beef on sale or something.
        BTW Does anyone know if shredded cheese has been treated with some kind of starch to keep it from clumping? I considering buying my cheese only in bulk.

        • “In packaged shredded cheese, cellulose is used to coat the pieces of cheese, blocking out the moisture that causes them to clump. But that is just the beginning; cellulose is also used to replace fat and give a creamier feel to foods like low-fat ice cream, to thicken and stabilize, and to boost fiber content.”

          Google search ‘shredded cheese additives’, and remember to ask google and wikipedia first, they are your best friends.

        • Also, “Powdered cellulose is made by cooking raw plant fiber — usually wood — in various chemicals to separate the cellulose, and then purified. Modified versions go through extra processing, such as exposing them to acid to further break down the fiber. (source)

          In other words, this is not the cellulose you’d get from eating broccoli. No, this is cellulose that’s created in a laboratory, by a convoluted process you’d find difficult (if not impossible) to replicate in your own kitchen. And did I mention it’s made from wood pulp?

          And yet, this unnatural food additive is considered “natural” by our government — so natural that it’s even allowed in foods bearing the “organic” label.”

          • Joe

            Not all forms of cellulose are equal. Yes, I think it can be made from wood, plants, etc.

            So you’ll get my can of Konsyl (made from the husks of psyllium plants) when you’re able to “pry it from my cold, dead fingers”!

            I’ve been using it for about 6 months now (I’ve lost ~65 pounds) , while on a low-carb, no wheat diet. The best I can say about it is that it’s….smoooooooooooth. I was pretty regular before, but you can literally set your watch by me these days.

            Speak not ill of Konsyl!

    • PJ

      Lisa, I agree. Each and every time I go to the grocery store, I make a point of rereading the labels on things I buy on a consistent basis (like my favorite organic nutbutter) because I’m tired of having to return to the store to take something back. I hate those surprise changes they may make on everyday products.

      Campbell’s is one of those labels I refuse to buy, regardless of the product.

      Like Jennifer, I do prefer to make everything from scratch. I spend all weekend cooking for the week. Worth it, tho.

      • I take advantage of my slow-cooker, so when I spend “all day” cooking, it’s more like 5 minutes of prep followed by 3 hours of whatever it is sitting in the oven. It’s amazing the number of things I can cook this way so that they turn out absolutely delicious: pork loin, whole chickens, curries and stews. I make stock for soup from the liquid that drains out of meat, then simmer the bones.

        One thing I’m thinking of experimenting with is gelatin. It’s a thickener/binding agent (just as you can make paste from flour, you can make glue from bones), but it’s not made from grain. I suspect it could be quite useful in a number of preparations to avoid the biggest problem I’ve found with low-carb cooking: everything is really watery.

        • Marlene

          There are several low carb (non-wheat) thickeners on the market. I use Guar Gum or Xantham Gum powder, but there are many others on the market. Xanthan Gum helps replace the gluten in a recipe and aid in binding and thickening recipes.

  2. peggy

    Apparently our Healthy Request has been DENIED! Just wait until the class action law suits start coming in. You think Wall Street has it tough right now? They’re Just stealing…you are poisoning America

  3. PJ

    But Dr. Davis, it has sea salt in it so it MUST be healthy! Oh, sarcasm.

    I think it’s just best to avoid prepackaged food as much as you can. I am amazed at how many people fall for the words “healthy” or “natural” without reading further than that.

  4. Nice catch, Dr. Davis. It’s the hidden cause/effect cycle. My wife and I came to the pre-“Wheat Belly” conclusion that she was lactose intolerant, because when she ate cheese – on crackers, and milk – on cereal, she had to take the lactose enzyme or have an upset stomach. Now, curiously, she doesn’t have lactose intolerance anymore. Obviously, it was the wheat.

    • Same boat here; I ate dairy-free for YEARS because I was told my stomach flareups were lactose intolerance. I still don’t drink milk; but I now do enjoy high fat dairy sources like sour cream or cheese.

      And if I accidentally get wheat now: I get the elves with blowtorches in my stomach. That will make you a label reader!

    • Hi, James–

      I find it interesting how many food intolerances are, at the root of it, just wheat intolerance. Not to say that all food intolerances are due to wheat, but a surprising proportion are.

      Maybe we should blame wheat for the housing crisis, too. After all, it’s to blame for so many other things!

    • MaryBeth

      I too was told to stay away from eggs and cheese and milk because everytime I ate these things for breakfast (along with whole wheat toast of course) I would feel really crappy. So of course the dr would say ibs, or a bit of intolerance for dairy products. Since I’ve gone wheat free, I’ve been eating omlettes STUFFED with veggies and some cheese, and not once have I felt sick.

  5. Evelyn

    Anytime one sees the words “natural” or “healthy” a BIG red flag should go up. There are a few manufacturers of clean convenience foods but they are expensive. Cooking one’s own ensures good quality. I feel I spend an inordinate amount of time in the kitchen but it’s worth it.

  6. Iris

    To get a nice creamy tomato soup, add a little bit of baking soda to your crushed tomatoes or tomato puree (and whatever other ingredients you include) so that the tomatoes don’t curdle the yummy whole cream you are going to want to add — perfect taste and beautiful color. And that is so much better than anything the food scientists have put in a can for your “convenience”.

  7. Thomas Anderson

    These soups all have refined oils added to them, often replacing natural fats, which is the main reason I have totally given up on them. Refined oils have no place in a healthy diet.

  8. anthony

    Dr. Davis, et al,
    I thought I’d mention that, since returning from Paris to home on 16Sept (and weighing in prior to an HIT strength training workout out where I showed 163 plus pounds), I have been entirely wheat free: zero, zip, nada, zilch. I am now 160. That’s conservatively a 3# drop in somewhat less than a month w/o any intent to drop the weight. Question for ya: where does one stop with weight loss upon eliminating wheat and eating an essentially Paleo/Archevore like diet? What’s the endpoint? How is it modulated?

  9. This is just scary! All that crap in a can of ‘tomato’ soup??
    I’ve always been a ‘wheataholic’ but have recently started Crossfit training, and was subsequently introduced to the Paleo way of eating, and along the way, your blog. Its opened my eyes so much! Firstly, I cant believe the utter lies that we are literally fed from a young age about what is healthy and the diets we ‘should’ be following – I have at times felt so angry about this I’ve wanted to scream…or punch someone working on the wheat council/FDA board! Secondly, I now have an answer for a lot of the health problems I’ve had since I was a teenager – Bloating, headaches, acne – things I thought I just had to live with have now disappeared, even after only a week of excluding wheat!

    Im so happy I found your blog – good luck with getting the message out there, I know I’ll be forwarding a link to this site to everyone I know and telling them they need to get on the bandwagon before its too late!

    Thank you!

  10. I saw this the other day looking at the can. Even the premium one has flour in it.

    It’s disappointing but not surprising. Guess it’s time to make a homemade recipe and freeze batches of it.

    • That’s always a good solution, Dennis. There are lesser known brands, however, that don’t do this. You have to look for them, however, and they are often smaller regional producers.

  11. S. Quade

    Low Carb Tomato Soup (low carb friends)
    Ingredients: 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
    1/2 c. water
    1/4 to 1/2 c. heavy whipping cream (you know 1/2 is tastier than 1/4!!)
    1 pkt Splenda (optional, but a few grains will smooth and gentle the flavors)
    How To Prepare: Mix all together in saucepan,
    heat gently on low heat until soup barely bubbles for 5 timed minutes & serve.
    It’s delicious.
    Preparation Time: 5 minutes
    Effort (Easy):

  12. Michelle Phillips

    I also make my own tomato soup but I use fresh tomatoes and whipping cream assorted spices and some Splenda. Pretty much what the above post does. I also couldn’t believe what was in the soup can as I really love tomato soup. Now I love it more.
    P.S. I use your crackers when I make this soup.

    • Neicee

      If you ever have a lone soldier piece of salmon lurking in the freezer, gently poach it. Cut it into to bite sized chunkes and add to the soup. Dice a cucumber and use that for garnish….sprinkle with either dried or fresh dill and you’ve got Salmon Bisque, for pennies a serving.

  13. jimrex

    Greetings all,

    My wife and I made an Italian ground beef (grass fed, of course) soup that contained a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes and a 16 oz can of cannellini beans as the only carb. I had about two cups of the soup and experienced a 40 point increase in BS about 1.5 hours afterwards. I think that I have also noticed this with other tomato based dishes.

    I calculate the carb breakdown:
    – 7g carbs cannelini beans (label indicated 12g net carbs per serving for 3.5 servings, but the volume of soup yielded 6 servings, so maybe 7g carbs per serving)

    – 7g carbs from tomatoes (28oz can has 42g net carbs, so around 7g per serving)

    So, it looked like a good choice for a soup recipe. Anyone else see spikes like that from cooking tomatoes? I think that I read once that the sugar increases the longer they are simmered.


    • Dr. Davis

      I believe it means you are exceptionally carbohydrate sensitive, James, as are many people.

      You may be among the people who do best by restricting carbs to 10-12 grams “net” per meal. You may have done some damage to your pancreatic beta cells over the years and/or have severe insulin resistance. If you lose weight, you my find that your tolerance improves a little bit.

      • jimrex

        Dr. Davis,

        Thanks for replying – I agree. If I focus on exact amounts of good carbs, I do well. My lunch today had mushed up beans, so there was no way to really measure the beans in the meal. After starting on the meal, I realized this so I removed the rest of the intact beans. Post meal BS was 155. It was 111 before eating.

  14. First off I want to say great blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.
    I was curious to find out how you center yourself and clear your mind prior to writing.
    I’ve had difficulty clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out. I do take pleasure in writing however it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually lost just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or tips? Appreciate it!

    • Dr. Davis

      An unusual question, Kamini!

      Simple: Put down whatever comes to mind first, then edit later.

      The toughest part is to get beyond that starting inertia. Once you get going, it all flows. Go back and edit, improve, edit . . . repeat 20 times!