By Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN
If you weren’t able to escape getting a cold this winter, take heart! Certain foods that you can easily make and eat at home contain key nutrients and properties that can help to get you better. To help you get over your cold faster this winter season, try including these eight foods — each of them contains healthy properties to boost your immune system and help you get over your cold, fast!
1. Probiotic-rich foods: Healthy bacteria can help to bump out the less-healthy bacteria that can set up shop and make us sick. Choosing probiotic-rich foods like kefir (both dairy and non-dairy based), kimchee, pickled vegetables, miso and miso soup, and kombucha tea can help provide our bodies with healthy bacteria that can both help to get us well and keep us well too.Try this Coconut Water Kefir recipe.
2. Turmeric: Turmeric is famous for its anti-cancer and health-promoting properties. Turmeric is found both in a root form and also in dried form and either can be used to help fight a cold or other seasonal cold/flu viruses. Turmeric is high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties as well that help to promote overall wellness. To help ease a sore throat try these Turmeric Pineapple Popsicles.
3. Garlic: Garlic is another great vegetable when it comes to helping you get over a cold quickly. Garlic contains a nutrient called allicin (that’s what gives garlic its strong taste and smell), which is great for its immune-boosting properties. Garlic also has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Try cooking with garlic (use it in your favorite soup or cooked vegetable recipe) or roast it, using this simple recipe.
4. Oregano: Oregano is a favorite herb of mine. It’s loaded with flavor and also a number of healthy properties too, as it has cold and virus-fighting properties thanks to the phenolic acids and flavonoids (plant-compounds) that it contains. Add a dash on top of soups or salads/salad dressings or even in your juice, like this simple recipe!
5. Pumpkin: Not the kind you carve, but the kind you eat. Pumpkin is loaded with anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties that can help to keep you well and also help to get you well if you get sick. Pumpkin is a natural source of beta carotene — a precursor to vitamin A — which may help to keep the respiratory system healthy. Try this Creamy Cauli Pumpkin Soup recipe.
6. Lean animal protein: Lean animal proteins like beef and fish or even chicken has zinc, which is a key nutrient for the immune system. As an added bonus, animal protein also contains an amino acid called cysteine that can help to break up mucus and phlegm (yes, chicken soup is a good idea!). Try making a basic vegetable soup with some lean protein, such as chicken or ground beef. Give this 100 calorie zoodle vegetable soup a try!
7. Sweet potato: Sweet potatoes are a great source of so many wonderful things for our bodies (when we’re sick and when we’re well!). Sweet potatoes are a source of healthy vitamins and minerals like Vitamins A and C (which are actually antioxidants too). Vitamin A in particular can help to keep the mucosal membranes in our bodies healthy (mucosal membranes can be found in the throat, nose, intestine) and help us fight colds and other seasonal illnesses. Try these Loaded Stuffed Sweet Potatoes.
8. Dark green leafy vegetables: Dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, and collard greens should never be overlooked! They’re so good for our health and also so tasty. Dark green leafy vegetables contain vitamins A and C as well as other key healthy nutrients like fiber and b-vitamins. Dark green vegetables also contain key electrolytes —like magnesium, potassium and even a little sodium too — that are important for healthy fluid balance both when we’re sick and when we’re healthy. Try incorporating dark green leafy vegetables like in soups, stews and other delicious and healthy cooked dishes-like this Spinach and Fennel Split Pea Soup.
For more information on boosting your immune system and getting well and staying well over the holidays, check out these expert blog posts: