When the common cold strikes (as it tends to do this time of year), as the saying goes, you should “feed a cold and starve a fever,” right? Or is it “feed a fever and starve a cold”? Either way, there are a whole host of foods that are hugely helpful when we get sick, and we’re not just talking about chicken soup. We’ve rounded up 10 foods that you should definitely seek out next time you feel yourself coming down with a cold.
Think about it: everyone knows that you should load up on vitamin C when you’re sick. You could either take a vitamin supplement, or you can eat citrus fruits, which are loaded with the vitamin. But there are lots of other vitamins and minerals that are essential for shortening a cold, and they can all be found in everyday foods.
So the next time you feel a cold coming on, there’s no need to reach for the drugs if you know where to look. When we’re sick, we need to load up on the healthy stuff, including omega-3 fatty acids, protein, probiotics, antioxidants, and vitamin A, and certain easily obtainable foods are loaded with these.
When taken at the first sign of a cold, vitamin C has been proven to shorten its duration by about a day. So load up on the citrus fruits, which contain a whole lot of vitamin C. And don’t be afraid to go overboard; it’s nearly impossible to overdose on the vitamin.
Yogurt, kefir, and other similar foods contain plenty of probiotics, which are beneficial strains of bacteria that help digestion and prevent stomach problems. But their benefits don’t end there: A recent study found that they also help lower the risk of upper respiratory tract infections.
Garlic contains a sulfuric compound called allicin, which produces a powerful antioxidant, which is crucial in fighting a cold. It’s most potent when eaten raw, but if you don’t want to bad breath there are plenty of garlic supplements out there as well.
DARK LEAFY GREENS
Leafy greens are about the healthiest foods we can put in our bodies, and kale is loaded with nutrients including vitamin K, A, and C, all of which help keep us healthy. The darker the green, the better.
Carrots, and other orange vegetables like sweet potatoes, contain high levels of beta carotene, which is converted by our bodies into vitamin A. This vitamin is essentially in keeping us healthy and fighting colds: it helps keep our immune system strong, and keeps the mucous membranes in our nose and throat healthy.
Omega-3 fatty acids are renowned for their power to reduce inflammation in the body, which can keep your immune system from doing its job properly. Oily fish like tuna, salmon, and mackerel are very high in this good fat, and can fend off colds and more serious diseases as well.
FENNEL AND ANISE SEEDS
Both fennel and anise seeds are natural expectorants, and also have antibacterial properties that can help to clear up congestion and ease coughing. Fennel can be eaten raw or roasted, and the seeds can be made into a tea.
Lean protein, like skinless chicken and turkey and pork loin, doesn’t just help build muscle, it also helps us build up antibodies, which help us fight infection. So ask for extra chicken in your soup!
Oysters contain more zinc than any other food on Earth, and zinc has been proven to shorten the length of colds. So ditch the Cold-EEZE (which contains about as much zinc as three oysters) and head to your nearest oyster bar.
Wild blueberries contain more antioxidants than any other fruit, and can be incredibly helpful in boosting immunity and keeping you healthy.