25 amazing superfoods that fight colds



Sniffles, sneezing, aches and pains – sound familiar? With the average adult catching three colds a year, each lasting nine days, you’ll need all the help you can get to ward off that pesky virus. Try these food heroes and banish the bugs naturally.




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Research has shown that people with high levels of Vitamin D suffer from fewer respiratory tract infections so try eating some more Vitamin D-rich fish like salmon.




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We like to think of blueberries as bite-sized immunity boosters thanks to their strong antioxidant properties. In 2007, Cornell University scientists found wild blueberries contained the most active antioxidants of any fresh fruit.




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As well as adding a punch of flavor to your cooking, garlic contains allicin, which has a direct antiviral effect. A 2001 study found that people who took garlic supplements for 12 weeks between November and February got fewer colds than those who took a placebo.




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These licorice-flavored seeds have strong antibacterial properties and have been shown to ease coughing and to help clear congestion from the upper respiratory tract. A good source of iron, magnesium and vitamins A and C, you can add them to your food or even take them in your tea.




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As you’ll almost certainly know, oranges have a high concentration of Vitamin C. A 2006 Japanese study showed the risk of contracting three or more colds over a five-year period was reduced by more than 60% when people ingested 500mg of Vitamin C per day.




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Research published in a Canadian medical journal in 2012 found taking zinc lozenges shortens the duration of cold symptoms. If that doesn’t sound like your thing why not snack on some oysters as they’re full of the cold-fighting mineral. Six medium oysters supply 33mg – four days’ worth for women and three days’ worth for men.




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This hardy herb, which can be eaten raw or cooked, can help clear chest congestion and soothe an irritating cough. Like anise seeds, to get the best cold-fighting benefit from fennel, try sipping on a tea made using its seeds.




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Yogurts are a great source of probiotics – good bacteria that help fight off bad bacteria by increasing the number of virus-fighting cells. A study from the University of Vienna found that a daily seven-ounce dose of yogurt is effective in boosting immunity – more so than taking probiotic dietary supplements.




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This veggie is high in Vitamin C. One red pepper has 150 milligrams of the nutrient—that’s twice the recommended daily allowance for women. Vitamin C amps up the release of interferon, a protein than stops viruses from replicating.




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Much like salmon, a humble glass of milk is also a great source of Vitamin D. In 2012 researchers found that Vitamin D supplements can help ward off kids’ winter colds, so make sure you pour you and your family a glass today.




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It’s not technically a food but the health benefits of a steaming cup of tea are so good we had to include it. Tea contains a group of antioxidants known as catechins that hold flu-fighting properties. Tip: the longer you steep your tea, the more catechins you’ll get in your brew.




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Known for its ability to curb nausea ginger can also act as an antihistamine and decongestant – a massive relief when suffering from a cold. Include it into your diet by adding some fresh ginger to a stir fry or add some thinly slice pieces to a cup of tea with lemon and honey.




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From buttons to shiitake and Portobello, mushrooms of any variety contain powerful natural medicines including anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiviral properties. They’re also full of immune-boosting antioxidants, potassium and Vitamin B.




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Banish that stuffy nose with some seriously hot chilies. They contain capsaicin, a compound that gives them their kick and acts as a decongestant – a godsend when you haven’t been able to breathe properly for a week. Add some freshly chopped chili to your soups, salads or pasta.




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All dark leafy greens, like spinach, kale, Swiss chard and arugula, are great sources of the cold-fighting Vitamin C. Stocking up on your greens can reduce the duration of a cold. Remember – the darker the greens, the higher the nutrient content.




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We’ll take any reason to eat more chocolate. Fortunately, we don’t even have to pretend it’s good for you because it actually is. Pure cocoa contains more of the disease-fighting antioxidants known as polyphenols than most berries. Aim for the dark chocolate variety with at least 70% cocoa.




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These moreish nuts are high in healthy fats, protein and, most importantly, selenium – an essential mineral which increases white blood cells that destroy viruses. However, adults need 55 micrograms of selenium each day, about half the amount found in one single Brazil nut so go easy on them.




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This winter breakfast staple contains beta-glucan, a type of fiber that can activate white blood cells known as macrophages and neutrophils. They assist the immune system in defending itself against invaders. Studies also suggest the nutrients may help antibiotics work more effectively.




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While sweet potatoes might not be considered a typical cold-fighting food, they’re rich in beta-carotene which when eaten converts itself into Vitamin A – essential to maintaining a strong immune system. The nutrient is also in charge of keeping the mucous membranes that line our nose and throat healthy and functioning properly.




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Sunflower seeds are a great way to boost your source of Vitamin E – an antioxidant that enhances the body’s production of immune cells. A 2003 study in Scotland found that people with diets high in vitamins C and E had greater lung capacity and produced less phlegm.




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Full of Vitamin C, kiwifruit can help increase your resistance. But don’t wait until you get poorly; studies show that taking large doses of Vitamin C once a cold begins does not shorten its length or severity, but a regular dose every day can.




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According to Ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine), cinnamon and cloves promote sweating and are often used to help break a fever. Turmeric, a rich yellow powder, is also high in antioxidants and considered a natural anti-inflammatory. Research shows people who consume turmeric are less susceptible to colds, coughs and congestion.




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To really benefit from an onion’s cold-fighting properties it’s best to eat them raw. If the flavor proves too strong for you try adding them to your meals, in salads, pastas or stir-fries.




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Research presented at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society found that honey is able to fight infection in multiple ways. It’s loaded with polyphenols, hydrogen peroxide and a natural acidity, all which protect the body from bacteria and actively target and destroy bacterial cells.




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Turns out mother was right, this age-old elixir really is good for you. According to a study from the University of Nebraska Medical Center, the soup inhibits white blood cells called neutrophils that are released in huge numbers when you have a cold.




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