Health: 11 Superfoods That Fight Colds
Oh yes – chocolate is on the list
They say you are what you eat, so it makes sense that eating nutritious superfoods can help you maintain a healthy immune system. “Vitamins, minerals, antioxidants – these are what keep your body strong, and without them you’re not giving your body the edge it needs to ward off infection,” says registered dietitian Karen Ansel, a former spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. For the best defense against colds and flu, make these healthy foods part of your diet.
Oily fish – including salmon, tuna and mackerel – are rich in omega-3 fatty acids (compounds that help reduce harmful inflammation in the body). Chronic inflammation prevents your immune system from working properly and can contribute to colds and flu.
These pungent cloves contain allicin, a sulfuric compound that produces potent antioxidants when it decomposes. Garlic packs the biggest antioxidant punch when eaten raw.
These licorice-flavored seeds, which have antibacterial properties, have been shown to ease coughing and help clear congestion from the upper respiratory tract.
Studies show that taking vitamin C at the first sign of illness may reduce a cold’s duration by about a day. Eating lots of citrus — noshing on orange and grapefruit slices, or using lemons and limes in recipes — will provide a healthy dose of this powerhouse nutrient.
Fennel is a natural expectorant and can help clear chest congestion and soothe a persistent cough. Make your own fennel tea with 1.5 teaspoons of the seeds and 1 cup boiling water. Steep for 15 minutes, strain and sweeten with honey to taste.
Yogurt and Kefir
Probiotic foods such as yogurt and kefir are a good way to replenish beneficial strains of bacteria, which promote digestive health and help prevent stomach ailments and upper respiratory tract infections.
Like citrus fruit, red peppers are high in vitamin C. In fact, one red pepper has 150 milligrams of the nutrient. (A large orange, by comparison, has about 100 mg.)
Skinless Turkey Breast
Lean proteins are high on Ansel’s list of flu fighters. “We think we need protein to build muscle, and we do – but actually, we need it to build antibodies and fight infection in the body, as well,” she says. Chicken, turkey and pork are all good sources of protein, as are beans, nuts and dairy.
These antioxidant powerhouses are bite-size immunity boosters, especially when they grow in the wild. Studies suggest that wild blueberries contain the most active antioxidants of any fresh fruit, thanks to their high levels of anthocyanins – one of the most potent antioxidants.
Yes, it’s one of the superfoods! Ounce for ounce, pure cocoa contains more of the disease-fighting antioxidants known as polyphenols than most berries – and it’s loaded with zinc too. To reap the immunity-boosting benefits without the unhealthy extras (like high sugar content), stick with bite-size portions of dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 70% or higher.
Carrots and Sweet Potatoes
Orange fruits and vegetables – such as carrots and sweet potatoes – are rich in beta carotene. When you eat these foods, your body converts this organic compound into vitamin A. That is essential for maintaining a strong immune system.
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