Foods to Help You Fight Colds This Winter

If there’s one thing winter’s famous for, it’s cold season. All it takes is one sniffling kid at daycare or one coworker with a cough to have you—and everyone around you—feeling under the weather. So this year when cold season strikes, prepare your body with foods that help fight illness.


Far more than a savory additive in Italian food, garlic is a nutritional powerhouse. Its major active component is allicin, known for a variety of antimicrobial properties. Whether you boil some garlic cloves to make a cold-fighting broth or you juice garlic for a brave and powerful tonic, the more garlic you get, the better for your health this season.


Currently enjoying some time in the spotlight, turmeric is trendy for good reason. One of the foods with the highest antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, this yellow spice has anti-viral, anti-fungal and cancer-fighting benefits. Try using it as a spice on roast vegetables or adding some to your morning smoothies.

Red Bell Peppers

They don’t get a lot of attention for this, but, ounce for ounce, red bell peppers outshine citrus fruits in vitamin C and beta carotene. Because vitamin C is key for boosting immunity, work more of these vegetables into your life all winter long. Eat them raw and sliced with your favorite dip, add them to hearty soups or roast them to add to hummus or other recipes this season.

Dark Leafy Greens

It’s no surprise to say that greens are good for you, and here’s why: whether you’re talking about kale, bok choy, turnip greens, mustard greens or Swiss chard, dark and leafy greens are packed with vitamins and nutrients. From vitamin C to folate, the vitamins inside greens can aid your body’s immune system and make you stronger against illness. Use them sautéed as a side dish or worked into soups for cold winter nights.

Wild Salmon

As daylight decreases and darkness becomes the norm, most people aren’t getting enough sunshine and its accompanying vitamin D. Build your body’s stores with foods high in the vitamin, like wild salmon. Make salmon a regular dinner plan this season to ensure you’re still getting the nutrients you need.


Many experts say a healthy gut is the foundation of a strong immune system—and probiotics can do wonders for making your gut healthier. To get more of these good bacteria in your diet, up your intake of plain yogurt, raw sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, and fermented foods.

Chicken Soup

Chicken soup isn’t only warm and comforting when sick, it has health benefits too. Fluids are important when fighting a cold, so the broth is hydrating and also helps to keep nasal passages moist. Besides being filled with protein, an amino acid called cysteine is found in chicken. Cysteine is thought to help alleviate congestion.


Oranges, lemons and grapefruits are perfect for a cold because they are packed with Vitamin C. While they won’t cure a cold, adding a big dose of Vitamin C to your diet will shorten the length of the cold.


Thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, honey is an effective remedy for a sore throat and/or a cough. However, due to a risk of botulism, do not give honey to infants.


Easy to digest, bananas contain pectin that can help with an upset stomach. They also add a boost of potassium which helps the body when dehydrated.

Spicy Food

Spicy food is a natural decongestant and will help break up mucus. Eating horseradish, cayenne pepper, or other spicy ingredients can help with congestion by making your nose run.


There are many reasons to add ginger to your diet when sick. Ginger has been found to reduce nausea and help with digestion. It also contains lots of antioxidants that help to boost the immune system.


Anthocyanin is an antioxidant that’s found in certain berries like strawberries, blueberries, and blackberries. They’re the pigment that gives the berries color but also known for anti-inflammatory and anti-viral benefits.

The best thing you can do for your health in winter is to think proactively. So beef up your diet now with whole foods that are rich in nutrients to help yourself stay well when cold season strikes!