15 Foods Proven to Help a Cold

Having a cold is one of life’s biggest, yet smallest, inconveniences. When a cold strikes, all you want is to get better quickly. But your diet plays a much bigger role in helping you heal than you may have thought. And in some cases, foods can help prevent colds altogether. Here are 15 foods proven to help a cold.

Garlic | dulezidar/iStock/Getty Images

1. Garlic

Several studies have shown that garlic can reduce cold symptoms and even fight off colds before they can start. Garlic contains allicin, which, when crushed or chewed, turns into additional compounds that can help boost the immune system to get rid of cold symptoms faster or help your body fight off the cold before you even notice it. Studies suggest that those who consume garlic have a reduced risk of catching a cold and also spend a shorter amount of time feeling sick.

Next: These fruits are known for their immune-boosting qualities. 

2. Citrus fruits

Oranges | vmenshov/iStock/Getty Images

Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruit, are loaded with vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential for immune health, and while supplements help, there is nothing as beneficial as getting Vitamin C through the foods you eat. If you’re feeling under the weather, pack an orange in your lunch or eat some grapefruit for breakfast. Your immune system could use the extra push to power you through your cold.

Next: Few people know that this food is great for colds. 

3. Red bell peppers

organic red bell peppers
Red bell peppers | iStock.com/Ravsky

If you thought citrus fruits were high in vitamin C, think again. While citrus fruits are a great option for a cold, red bell peppers actually contain more than triple the vitamin C that an orange has. Half a cup of chopped red bell pepper has a whopping 303% daily value of vitamin C. If you’re in a rush to kick that cold to the curb (and who isn’t), add some red bell pepper to your morning omelet, and slice it up as a midday snack. Your body will thank you. Chili peppers and green bell peppers are good choices, too.

Next: This food is packed with antioxidants. 

4. Blueberries

Blueberries | Eike Leppert/iStock/Getty Images

Blueberries are one of the most antioxidant-rich fruits you can have. Antioxidants help your body fight off disease, including cold and flu viruses. Blueberries also have an antihistamine effect, which can help reduce symptoms of allergies, such as a runny nose. They’re high in fiber and vitamin C but also incredibly low in calories, so you can eat plenty without having to worry.

Next: You’ll be glad to know this sweet treat can fight off a cold. 

5. Dark chocolate

Organic Dark Chocolate Chips
Dark chocolate | iStock.com/bhofack2

If you’ve ever needed a reason to grab a piece of chocolate, this is it. Dark chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine. According to Medical Daily, in one study, the theobromine in dark chocolate served as a sensory blocker for those with the common cold. It helped prevent coughing, and even worked better than codeine in the study. To reap the benefits of dark chocolate, eat only one ounce and make sure it’s at least 70% cacao.

Next: Warm beverages such as this one have been proven to fight off that cold. 

6. Tea

Delicious green tea with teapot and cup on black rock
Green tea | Shaiith/iStock/Getty Images

Hot beverages, such as tea, have been proven to relieve symptoms of a cold. When you drink something warm, it loosens a stuffed up chest and sinuses, which can help relieve a stuffy nose and bad cough. Plus, it helps with any chill you have from being under the weather. And since tea is mostly water, it also helps to keep you hydrated and keep your throat moist if it’s sore.

Next: This salty and hot dish is good for when you’re not feeling well. 

7. Chicken soup

chicken noodle soup
Chicken noodle soup | iStock.com/joshuaraineyphotography

In addition to hot tea, hot foods such as chicken soup are also good to help a cold. Chicken soup actually does more to help you than hot tea. Chicken soup actually helps white blood cells fight off infection and has been shown to have mild anti-inflammatory properties, which help fight any inflammation caused by the cold. However, canned chicken soup is usually very high in sodium, so be careful about how much you eat.

Next: If you don’t like citrus fruits, this may be a bit easier to consume. 

8. Orange juice

A freshly squeezed orange juice in a glass
Orange juice | Canovass/iStock/Getty Images

If you don’t have time to eat a whole orange, down a glass of orange juice to get some necessary vitamin C to help fight that cold. It has about 165% daily value of vitamin C, so it should help you fend off that cold. If you’re not a fan of oranges, chugging a glass of juice will at least be a bit easier — and less messy — than eating a whole orange.

Next: You definitely need plenty of this in your diet. 

9. Grilled chicken

Grilled chicken
Grilled chicken | Voltan1/Getty Images

Protein helps the body in more ways than one can count. But one important thing protein does is help the body develop antibodies to fight infection. If you have a low-protein diet, you may find yourself getting sick more frequently. Try incorporating lean protein, such as grilled chicken, into your diet — it will also help you fight off the fatigue that comes with not feeling well. If you don’t eat meat, nuts and beans are also excellent sources of protein.

Next: This is one of the most powerful ‘super foods’ you can eat. 

10. Kale

fresh green kale
Bunch of kale | jenifoto/iStock/Getty Images

Kale is one of the best known superfoods in the world. It’s loaded with nutrients, all of which your body needs to work its best. And when your body’s systems are at their best, fighting off things such as the common cold are a bit easier. It has a lot of vitamins A and C, which are both necessary for fighting off those pesky colds. But kale can be a bit tough to eat, so introduce it into your diet by mixing it in with your favorite lettuce.

Next: The color of this food says a lot about its healthy properties. 

11. Sweet potatoes

Raw sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes | zeleno/iStock/Getty Images

Sweet potatoes contain something called beta carotene (also found in carrots), which provides the body with a lot of vitamin A. Beta carotene helps boost your immune system while also preventing harmful toxins from building up in your body. And if you’re not a sweet potato fan, there is good news: Pretty much any orange fruit or veggie, from carrots to cantaloupe, contains beta carotene.

Next: This type of fish can help you get healthier. 

12. Wild salmon

Salmon | iStock.com/AlexPro9500

Wild salmon is one of the healthiest fish you can eat. Similar to grilled chicken, wild salmon is high in protein and helps the body produce necessary antibodies. With antibodies, you can fight off something such as a common cold more easily. Salmon also reduces inflammation. However, farmed salmon can be dangerous. Make sure to only purchase wild salmon in order to get the best health benefits.

Next: Add this veggie to your daily meals. 

13. Fennel

Fennel | Sabinoparente/Getty Images

Fennel is a vegetable that packs plenty of vitamin C per serving, so if you’re feeling under the weather, you should dig in. Plus, according to Delish, this veggie also helps white blood cells work at a higher level. Since white blood cells are what fight off infection in the body, the better they’re working, the faster you’ll get over your cold.

Next: Eat this uncooked for the most health benefits. 

14. Spinach

Fresh spinach
Fresh spinach | iStock.com/dionisvero

Spinach is another one of those veggies your body can’t get enough of. It’s loaded with all kinds of nutrients, including antioxidants, electrolytes, and nearly every vitamin you can think of. Incorporating more spinach into your diet can improve overall bodily function, which will help your body bounce back quickly from a cold. For the best health benefits, eat spinach raw, such as in a salad.

Next: This can sooth a sore throat and help a cough. 

15. Olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil
Olive oil | Dulezidar/iStock/Getty Images

Olive oil has plenty of health benefits, and it might even help you fight off a cold. When used properly, olive oil can actually be an excellent remedy for the annoying cough that may accompany your cold. Believe it or not, some swear by taking a sip of olive oil to help that cough. Mixing honey, lemon juice, and olive oil together can also create a soothing syrup to help a sore throat.

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