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20 Winter Superfoods to Fight the Cold & Flu

Broccoli

Broccoli's peak season is October through April, so stocking up during the winter months might be a good idea. This versatile veggie can be prepared in a number of different ways--all of which should give you access to the flu- and cold-fighting nutrients found within them. 

Specifically, broccoli is a good choice because of its vitamin C content and its high fiber content. Vitamin C can help keep your immune system in order, while broccoli's fiber (and bland taste) will help you maintain a healthy diet during a time when your appetite probably isn't at its highest or most adventurous. 

Sweet Potatoes

While Thanksgiving-style sweet potatoes probably aren't the healthiest option, less processed sweet potatoes (minus the marshmallows) can be a smart option during the chilly months. 

Sweet potatoes are known to be high in vitamin A, which we normally associate with healthy skin. However, vitamin A is also important for the mucus membranes in your sinuses--and those need all the help they can get during a cold! 

Ginger

Whether you're steeping it in tea or adding it to a dish for some more flavor, ginger is a delicious and healthy root vegetable. While it's grown year-round, ginger typically takes a starring role around the winter holidays. 

Ginger is especially good at dealing with one pesky symptom that shows up with both colds and the flu--a sore throat. Its anti-inflammatory properties help to soothe the discomfort and might even shorten your recovery time. 

Kale

Kale might have a reputation for being an obnoxious, "trendy" food, but if you can stand the unique, earthy flavor it might be a good addition to your pantry during the winter months. It's a cold-weather vegetable, so don't miss it while it's at its peak in the winter!

Kale has a mile-long list of important nutrients, but when it comes to fighting the cold and flu, its vitamin C and magnesium content are the clear winners. Both play a key role in immune system health, and magnesium even has anti-inflammatory properties. 

Beets

Beet season is usually over by the fall, but this colorful vegetable fares well in storage through the winter months. And if you're worried about the cold and flu, it's definitely something you want on hand. 

Beets contain some of the most important nutrients for fighting these nasty illnesses. You've got vitamins C and B6 (for immune system health), vitamin A (for sinus health), and magnesium (for its anti-inflammatory properties). 

Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts are not the most exciting or tasty  vegetables, but if you can stomach them, they're great for dealing with a cold or the flu. And with a season that runs from September to February, the winter months are a great time to try them out. 

Brussels sprouts contain a wide variety of antioxidants which can help with all sorts of related problems, from managing symptoms to reducing your recovery time. 

Butternut Squash

Butternut squash is a fall and winter favorite. But in addition to being a big, colorful vegetable, they might be able to help your cold and flu symptoms, too. 

Butternut squash are full of important nutrients, but they don't have a distinct, overbearing taste--which means that you can still eat healthy even when your appetite isn't there. Additionally, they're a good source of vitamin A, which can help with sinus issues. 

Pomegranate

Despite its exotic, tropical appearance, pomegranates are actually a cold-weather fruit--its season runs from September to December. So be sure to snag them while you have a chance! 

Like many fruits, pomegranates are high in vitamin C, which can help boost your overall immune system health. But they're also high in various antioxidants which can help reduce inflammation associated with illnesses. 

Potatoes

Even the humble potato can help with cold and flu troubles! And a warm potato dish sounds like the perfect thing for a cold winter night. 

For many people, potatoes are an important source of vitamin B6. It's an important nutrient for keeping illnesses like the cold and flu from ever taking hold in your body. 

Pumpkin

Pumpkin season doesn't stop when Halloween is over! This is another member of the squash family you'll want in your diet all winter long. 

Its biggest claim to fame for fighting the cold and flu is its vitamin A. As we've already seen, this nutrient is essential if you don't want your sinuses congested and inflammed all season long. 

Blueberries

Because blueberries are grown globally, you can still enjoy them in the winter, even though they're technically a summer fruit. And of everything on this list, they're probably the most important superfood. 

Blueberries are known to possess more antioxidants than any other fruit or vegetable, and when you couple this with their high vitamin C content, it's hard to beat this fruit in terms of immune system health. 

Green Tea

Green tea is a pretty standard go-to for those who are sick, and for good reason too! This drink won't only warm you up in the winter--it will help you fight the flu as well. 

Green tea is high in catechins, which are a particularly powerful type of antioxidant. Specifically, catechins have shown promise in both treating and preventing the flu. 

Carrots

What winter stew would be complete without carrots? While they're technically a spring and fall crop, they store easily during the winter months. 

Carrots contain high levels of beta-carotene, which is important for multiple reasons. For one, our bodies can convert it to vitamin A, which can help with sinus congestion unpleasantness. However, beta-carotene is also important for the creation of white blood cells, which help fight off illnesses like the cold and flu. 

Oranges

Navel oranges are a staple winter crop for states like Florida. Plus, they're pretty good at helping you deal with the cold and flu too! 

To no one's surprise, oranges are full of vitamin C, and as we already know, that's a crucial nutrient for maintaining a healthy immune system. So go on and have a glass of orange juice for your health! 

Spinach

Popeye was on to something with all that spinach--it's a great choice if you're dealing with the cold or flu...or if you simply want to keep them at bay! 

Despite its humble appearance, spinach is actually quite high in vitamin C. This will help keep your immune system strong and may even help prevent colds after exposure to the virus. 

Garlic

Garlic will immediately enhance the taste of any dish, but it's also handy to keep around if you're worried about getting sick this winter. 

According to one study, patients who regularly ate garlic over a three month period had significantly fewer colds than those patients who did not eat garlic. 

Apples

A slice of apple pie might not be good for your waistline, but it could help in preventing the cold and flu! Apple season typically ends in November, so be sure to snag them during the early winter months. 

Like most fruits, apples are high in antioxidants which help keep your immune system strong and your body healthy. 

Cauliflower

Looks can be deceiving, especially when it comes to cauliflower. This vegetable hits its peak in November, and is hiding an important secret when it comes to the cold and flu. 

Besides citrus fruits, cauliflower is actually the best naturally occurring source of vitamin C. So be sure to stock up if you're looking for an immune system boost! 

Mushrooms

Depending on the variety, you can find mushrooms growing in any season--including the winter. And this fungus can be a tasty way to stay healthy when it's cold, too! 

Mushrooms are a good source of vitamin D--which plays two different roles in the fight against colds and the flu. For one, it helps promote healthy white blood cells, which are essential for fighting off illnesses. Secondly, it has antimicrobial properties which can also help eliminate infections. 

Salmon

Salmon is a good source of protein, which is important whether you're sick or not. However, salmon might specifically help folks currently dealing with a cold even more. 

Wild salmon is a good source of zinc, which is a mineral that can help you manage cold symptoms. According to some studies, zinc, when taken at the outset of a cold, can actually help lessen the severity and length of symptoms.