What to Eat When You Have a Cold

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By Stacey Feintuch from HealthyWomen’s Cold & Flu center

What to Eat When You Have a Cold, the three tomatoes

We’ve put a man on the moon and made a phone that fits in our pockets. Still, no cure exists for the common cold. That’s why it can never hurt to eat properly when you have a stuffed up nose.

Here is what we suggest you consume when you’re under the weather with the sniffles.

Garlic is a popular home remedy for a cold. Thanks to its allicin—an immune-boosting compound that gives garlic its hot flavor—garlic helps prevent colds when consumed regularly. Maximize the amount of allicin you get by chopping or crushing fresh garlic. It’s also available in pill form. Try our tasty Lemon Grilled Garlic Chicken.

Hot drinks like tea are a good beverage of choice when you have the sniffles. The hot steam they produce can relieve congestion. A brew with natural expectorants like anise seeds is especially soothing when you’re congested. Or try peppermint tea. Studies have found that it loosens mucus and breaks up coughs, acting like an expectorant. Find out more about tea drinking.  

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Chicken noodle soup
There is a reason its nickname is Jewish penicillin. This soup made from stock or broth and a variety of veggies is soothing when you’re stuffed up. One study in Chest suggests that chicken soup might have anti-inflammatory effects, which could possibly ease symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections. This chicken soup recipe is easy to make and loaded with vegetables—and your kids will love it, too.

Citrus fruits
Oranges, grapefruits and other fruits that are high in vitamin C may help reduce the length of colds. Don’t worry about overdoing it. It’s hard to overdose on this vitamin since anything your body doesn’t use is washed out of your system. Start the morning off with this Orange Millet Cereal. When cooking grains like millet, try simmering them in different liquids, such as orange juice, for a variety of flavor twists. A topping of naturally sweet coconut adds nuance.


We know vitamin D helps build strong bones. But it also helps bolster the immune system. It’s found in milk as well as orange juice and fortified breakfast cereals. Other vitamin D–rich foods include yogurt, cheese, dark leafy greens, salmon, almond butter and eggs. Find out facts about milk.

Honey is often called upon to help heal burns, cuts and scrapes. When you have a cold, it coats your throat and offers antioxidants that help fight infections from bacteria, fungi and viruses. Dark-colored varieties, such as buckwheat honey, are particularly high in antioxidants. Put some in your tea or get it via your food courtesy of this broiled scallops recipe.

Sweet potatoes
These potatoes are packed with vitamin A. That’s an immune-boosting nutrient that helps the body produce white blood cells which fight viruses. And they help keep mucous membranes healthy. Microwave a sweet potato and top with olive oil and herbs. Try transforming them into mashed potatoes or hummus.

For more information on the health topics mentioned in this article visit the HealthyWomen.org areas below.

Cold & Flu: www.healthywomen.org/category/tags/cold-flu
Heathy Eating: www.healthywomen.org/category/tags/healthy-eating

© 2019 HealthyWomen.  All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from HealthyWomen. 1-877-986-9472 (toll free). On the Web at: www.HealthyWomen.org.  


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