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30 Best Cold and Flu-Fighting Foods


Cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli, are high in vitamins A and C. Vitamin C has been proven to strengthen the body’s defense against viruses while vitamin A helps to overcome infections. Broccoli also contains glutathione that further strengthens your immune system.

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Mushrooms have antiviral properties because it’s rich in antioxidants, vitamins B and C, and several other minerals. Instead of reaching for the white button mushroom, reach for shiitake or hen of the woods. These two are especially pumped full of healthy nutrients for your body.

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Onions are basically a superfood. They contain antimicrobial compounds like allicin. These compounds fight sickness within the body. The only tradeoff is that doctors suggest you should eat one serving of raw onions every few hours. Better carry mouthwash!

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Kiwi is a superfood! It has a lot of fiber and antioxidants that keep your body healthy including vitamin C, carotenoids, and polyphenols. These have all been studied and found to be beneficial to the immune system.

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Raw garlic contains fructans. They help you digest better and boost your immune system. Garlic is best eaten before you get the flu, but it also helps if you get sick. The only thing is that you have to use a lot to get the desired effect. Garlic powder doesn’t have the same effect, so you’ll have to purchase fresh garlic. 

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Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are great for those that hate the taste of fish. Why? Because they’re a fantastic source of omega 3 fatty acids. They also have a lot of zinc. Low zinc levels can weaken the immune system, increasing the risk of you getting sick. While it may not help directly, pumpkin seeds also contain tryptophan, so they may also help get a good night’s sleep. 

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Yogurt is full of protein and probiotics, so it helps your stomach. Keeping your stomach healthy may be one of the best ways to avoid getting sick. However, it also has some strains of probiotics that actually boost the immune system.


A lot of us are perpetually dehydrated. On top of dehydration causing bad skin, it also has a negative impact on your immune system. During the winter seasons, make sure you’re drinking six to eight glasses of water per day. Adding lemon can also be helpful. 

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Dark Leafy Greens

Vitamin C is good for you, but instead of oranges, eat some dark leafy greens! Spinach and kale are especially rich in vitamin C, so stock up. The vitamin C can decrease the chances of getting sick and reduce the time you spend sick if you do catch a cold. 

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Oranges have vitamin C, but that isn’t all they have. Oranges also have flavonoids in the soft white skin. These flavonoids really rev up the immune system by helping your immune system remember how to fight the virus properly.

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If you’re unlucky enough to get the flu, reach for the ginger. Research has shown that the spice can reduce pain and even sooth nausea. It’s even helped women that experience nausea from chemo. You can drink ginger ale, but we suggest ginger lemon tea. 

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Blueberries have high concentrations of antioxidants. These antioxidants have been proven to fight off the flu virus. Doctors suggest that you eat fresh instead of frozen, but either of these are better than cooked blueberries. Eating half a cup of raw blueberries could keep you well this flu season.

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Your mom was right when she told you to eat soup when you’re sick! The hot soup raises the temperature in your body, which loosens mucus. Chicken soup is especially nutrient rich due to the amino acid cysteine, which is naturally released when chicken is cooked. 

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Small but mighty, beans are packed full of nutrients. They’re high in fiber and minerals, but the protein is what fights the flu. Protein is necessary to help build and repair cells, which can be damaged when you’re sick. It’s easy to reach for carbs when it’s cold but try a hearty bean soup instead.

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Yes, you should eat beef to avoid getting sick! Beef has high amounts of zinc. Low zinc has linked to a weakened immune system, which makes us more susceptible to colds and the flu. We suggest preparing a beef stew with delicious garlic. Nothing is better than soup when you’re sick.

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Ginseng Tea

Ginseng may look a lot like ginger, but it’s very different. The tea has been used for a popular treatment for the common cold (aka upper respiratory infections) for years because it can reduce inflammation and boost the immune system. The Canadian Medical Association Journal published a study that noted ginseng tea can significantly reduce the symptoms of cold and influenzas.


Looking for more vitamin C? Start cutting up tomatoes! One medium tomato contains over 16 milligrams of vitamin C, which helps boost your body’s immune system. A study published by Medizinische Monatsschrift fur Pharmazeuten showed that vitamin C bolsters our immune system by strengthening phagocytes and t-cells.  


This one is tricky because salmon is good for you, but for the best benefits, it should be wild salmon. They’re higher in nutrients like zinc. The Journal of Family Practice published a study that looked at the effects zinc had on the body. The research showed that participants that took 15mg of zinc daily for seven months were significantly less likely to catch a cold during flu season. Those that did get a cold got better faster, as well!

Dark Chocolate

Give us any reason to eat chocolate! Dark chocolate is filled with theobromine, which is an antioxidant that helps alleviate coughing. A study published in Frontiers in Pharmacology found that this antioxidant can suppress coughing in those who have bronchitis. Time to stock up!

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The health benefits of olive oil have been mentioned time and time again, and for good reason. Extra virgin olive oil can help rebuild and boost the body’s immune system. The British Journal of Nutrition published a study that found the high level of polyunsaturated fatty acids acted as an anti-inflammatory.  This, in turn, helped the immune system by guarding off infection.

Green Tea

Green tea is more than just a delicious drink. Not only does it help with weight loss, but it can also fight off a cold. Green tea is chock-full of flavonoids, an antioxidant that boosts the immune system because of its anti-inflammatory properties. It was well studied in the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology, which claims the antioxidant catechin is a powerful antibacterial and antiviral.  

Whole Grains

Any nutritionist and doctor will tell you that whole grains are good for you, but why? Well, they can help fight off colds, flus, and other bacteria because it has anti-inflammatory properties. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that 70% of our immune system lives in our gut, so a happy gut means a happy body. Whole grains help decrease inflammation while also keeping our gut moving smoothly.


While egg whites have little to no nutrition, egg yolks are a powerhouse. They’re packed with immune-boosting nutrients like vitamin D. A study by JAMA discovered that participants who took a daily serving of vitamin D during the winter were less likely to catch a cold and other upper respiratory infection.


Remember that old adage, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” There’s actually some truth to it! Eating apples can actually help prevent illnesses like the common cold because they have phytochemical antioxidants. A study in Nutrition Journal reported that these specific antioxidants can help boost the immune system while also reducing the risk of chronic diseases. 

Sweet Potato

Perfect! A reason not to feel bad about eating sweet potato pie. Sweet potatoes are often left out of “cold-fighting foods,” but they have tons of vitamin A – 377% of your daily value to be exact. Vitamin A plays a vital role in maintaining the health of your mucosal surfaces, which is the fancy way of referring to the inside of your nose and gastrointestinal tract.  


Turmeric blew up in popularity after people started making turmeric lattes, but you may want to pick one up after hearing this. Turmeric is high in antioxidants and can help decrease inflammation in the body. The only trick is that you have to take it on a daily basis for it to have any real effects. Thankfully, it’s easy to add to most recipes and drinks.  


Have you ever eaten bison? If not, you may want to start. Bison is high in zinc, which helps white blood cells fight off infection. Bison is also high in protein, iron, and vitamin B12, all essential nutrients for your body. Protein helps the body build antibodies, iron keeps microbes out of your body, and vitamin B12 gives your body the energy to fight off anything that gets in!


We’ve mentioned zinc before, and how it was great for the body. Well, oysters are packed with zinc! They have a staggering 493% of the daily requirement you need to be healthy. If you don’t like oysters, you can eat other shellfish also have a ton of zinc, so eat some shrimp or crab.  

Tart Cherries

Next time you’re at the store, pick up some tart cherries. They’ve been well studied and have shown to decrease inflammation while increasing immune functions. A study in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition discovered that tart cherries protected runners against a drop in immune function after an endurance event. You can eat them plain or drink the juice—either way, it’s good for your body.


There are two reasons watermelon is so good for you. First, it’s 92% water, so it helps hydrate the body. A well-hydrated body is a healthy one. Second, watermelon contains high amounts of vitamin C, beta-carotene, glutathione, and lycopene. Beta-carotene and lycopene protect your body against illness, while the antioxidant glutathione helps back your immune system while fighting infections.