What to Eat When You Have a Cold: 8 Healing Foods

Each year, there are one billion cases of the common cold in the U.S. alone. Here's what to eat when you have a cold to beat the sniffles.

Chicken Noodle Soup

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Eating a bowl of steaming chicken noodle soup provides more than just comfort when you have a terrible cold. In 2000, University of Nebraska researcher Dr. Stephen Rennard published findings in Chest, the journal of the American College of Chest Physicians, showing chicken soup contains anti-inflammatory agents that can ease a cold's symptoms. Dr. Mehmet Oz agrees. "Start with a bowl of Mom’s chicken soup," he has said. "Research has yet to show how it works (and how the heck Ma knew), but we do know that a nutrient-rich diet builds your immune system and fights inflammation."

Milk and Other Vitamin D-Rich Foods

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Vitamin D-rich foods like milk or fortified cereal might help combat a cold. A 2009 study by Massachusetts General Hospital found that people with low levels of vitamin D reported more colds than those who weren't vitamin D deficient. As an added bonus, these foods may help boost your mood during cold weather months, according to researchers at Loyola University.

Carrots and Other Vitamin A-Rich Foods

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All vitamins are essential to a healthy body, but Harvard Medical School says vitamin A is a key player in maintaining a strong immune system. When you have a cold, try eating sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, spinach, or collard greens.

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Cold Green Tea

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Green tea is full of antioxidants, which will boost your immune system even when you're already sick. Green tea can also help ease symptoms that often come with a cold, like a sore throat. Instead of sipping a hot mugful, Dr. Michael Greger suggests brewing it cold: antioxidant levels are higher that way compared to when it's made with boiling water.

Garlic

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Garlic has been found to help prevent colds when consumed regularly, owing to its immune-boosting compound allicin, says Donna Cardillo, RN. Eat more garlic when you have a cold, or try it raw with an orange-juice chaser.

Blueberries

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Researchers from Cornell University found that blueberries contained the most antioxidants than any other fresh fruit tested, which should help beat your sniffles. Eat them alone when you have a cold, or sprinkle on a bowl of cereal or yogurt to add some vitamin D.

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Tea

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Tea is soothing when you're congested, especially a brew with natural expectorants like anise seeds. Health.com recommends the American Pharmaceutical Association's recipe: one cup of crushed anise seeds to one cup of hot water, flavored with sugar, garlic, cinnamon, or honey. Sip tea up to three times a day. If you don't like licorice flavor, try peppermint. University of Maryland Medical Center reported that peppermint tea acts as an expectorant, loosening mucus and breaking up coughs.

Fish

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Health.com suggests eating oily fish, like salmon and tuna, when you have a cold, to take advantage of their omega-3 fatty acids. These compounds help reduce inflammation in the body, which can prevent your immune system from working properly.

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