The 15 best foods to help you fight off that stubborn cold

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Health Food Vegetables

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, U.S. citizens are in the thick of winter. With a little less than two months until spring officially begins, many colds and flus are still waiting to strike.

Though you can come down with a cold year-round, the colder temperatures during winter months tend make people more susceptible. The common cold, though not as severe as many other ailments that see a seasonal winter uptick, can still wreak havoc. Between the congestion, sneezing and missed work days, it’s best to avoid it entirely.

As the ancient Greek physician Hippocrates once said, “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” HealthGrove took that to heart and found the top cold-fighting foods. Using data from the ESHA nutrition database, HealthGrove created a “Cold-Fighting Index” that factors in the amount of vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc in every food in their database. This index attributes a weight of 20 percent, 40 percent, and 40 percent to each micronutrient, respectively. HealthGrove examined these micronutrients specifically because of their commonly accepted (placebo effect or otherwise) cold-fighting properties.

It is important to note the values listed are based off USDA-defined serving sizes. For some foods, such as broccoli, cabbage and jicama, these can be quite large. To reflect these respective sizes, we included the weight in grams of each.

#15. Cauliflower

 

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Cold-Fighting Index: 70.8
Serving Size: 1.0 package (283.5g)
Calories per Serving: 68
Good Source of: Vitamin C (230.6 percent Daily Value)

The vitamin C in cauliflower helps boost your immune system, but the other nutrients such as vitamin K, thiamin, magnesium and phosphorus also contribute to all-around health.

#14. Pink Salmon

 

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Cold-Fighting Index: 71.3
Serving Size: 4.0 ounces (113.4g)
Calories per Serving: 144
Good Source of: Vitamin D (123.3 percent Daily Value)

Not only a great source of vitamin D, salmon also has high levels of niacin, omega-3 fatty acids, phosphorous and vitamin B6. All of these nutrients contribute to a healthy immune system and brain, heart and joint health.

#13. Red Bell Pepper

 

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Cold-Fighting Index: 72.2
Serving Size: 1.0 package (283.5g)
Calories per Serving: 57
Good Source of: Vitamin C (277.4 percent Daily Value)

Red bell peppers, high in vitamin C like their sibling green variety, are special because of their high beta-carotene levels. Beta-carotene provides great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

#12. Cantaloupe

 

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Cold-Fighting Index: 72.2
Serving Size: 1.0 each (441g)
Calories per Serving: 150
Good Source of: Vitamin C (269.7 percent Daily Value)

The combination of high vitamin C levels and presence of vitamin A make it great for providing structure to skin and hair. Skin is the largest organ in the body and is the first line of defense of the immune system (it blocks out foreign pathogens), so keeping it healthy is integral for general immune system health.

#11. Swordfish

 

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Cold-Fighting Index: 72.6
Serving Size: 3.0 ounces (85.05g)
Calories per Serving: 146
Good Source of: Vitamin D (141.6 percent Daily Value)

The vitamin D in swordfish helps boost immune system health, but the high protein and omega-3 levels make it an all-around great staple for any diet.

#10. Brussels Sprouts

 

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Cold-Fighting Index: 74.5
Serving Size: 1.0 package (283.5g)
Calories per Serving: 116
Good Source of: Vitamin C (350.1 percent Daily Value)

In addition to immunity-boosting vitamin C, brussels sprouts contain a powerhouse combination of vitamins and minerals. Many of the published studies in PubMed speak to cancer-fighting and anti-inflammatory properties.

#9. Rainbow Trout

 

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Cold-Fighting Index: 74.8
Serving Size: 4.0 ounces (113.4g)
Calories per Serving: 160
Good Source of: Vitamin D (180 percent Daily Value)

Not only is rainbow trout good for your immune system due to the amount of vitamin D, but the omega-3 fatty acids make it a very heart-healthy food. According to the World Health Organization, a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids is linked to decreased risk of many diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.

#8. Strawberries

 

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Cold-Fighting Index: 75.4
Serving Size: 1.0 package (567g)
Calories per Serving: 198
Good Source of: Vitamin C (389.3 percent Daily Value)

Delicious and immune-system boosting, these bright red berries also possess high levels of manganese (in addition to vitamin C), which acts as a co-enzyme to help metabolic activity within the body.

#7. Jicama

 

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Cold-Fighting Index: 76
Serving Size: 1.0 large (1200g)
Calories per Serving: 456
Good Source of: Vitamin C (404 percent Daily Value)

Because of the high vitamin C content, jicama is great for boosting the immune system. This vegetable is also very low in sodium and fat, making it great for maintaining a healthy heart and stable weight.

#6. Mackerel

 

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Cold-Fighting Index: 76.2
Serving Size: 3.0 ounces (85.05g)
Calories per Serving: 259
Good Source of: Vitamin D (213.9 percent Daily Value)

As with many other fish, mackerel is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids as well as vitamin D. These support good health and a strong immune system.

#5. Peaches

 

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Cold-Fighting Index: 76.4
Serving Size: 1.0 package (284g)
Calories per Serving: 267
Good Source of: Vitamin C (445.9 percent Daily Value)

In addition to vitamin C, peaches are also rich in zinc, creating a prime cold-fighting combo. Vitamin C and zinc have wound-healing and antioxidant properties, which help fight infection and reduce the severity of certain illnesses.

#4. Carp

 

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Cold-Fighting Index: 78.8
Serving Size: 4.0 ounces (113.4g)
Calories per Serving: 144
Good Source of: Vitamin D (280.1 percent Daily Value)

The large amount of vitamin D present in carp make it a great choice of fish to add to your diet. Vitamin D regulates the absorption of calcium and phosphorous and is thought to protect against multiple diseases.

#3. Eastern Oysters

 

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Cold-Fighting Index: 80.2
Serving Size: 2.0 ounces (56.7g)
Calories per Serving: 39
Good Source of: Zinc (343.8 percent Daily Value)

A single serving of Eastern Oysters provides a large dose of zinc. Known as an “essential trace element,” zinc is vital to human health. Though only needed in small amounts, zinc promotes a healthy immune system by regulating immune responses and equipping the body to attack infected or cancerous cells.

#2. Cabbage

 

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Cold-Fighting Index: 81.5
Serving Size: 1.0 each (908g)
Calories per Serving: 218
Good Source of: Vitamin C (771.8 percent Daily Value)

Though the USDA serving size of cabbage is quite large, it still packs a nutritional punch. With nearly 800 percent of your daily recommended value of vitamin C in one head, your immune system is sure to get a boost even if you eat a much smaller amount. Additionally, cabbage has a lot of fiber and low caloric value, making it a great food for more than just your fish tacos.

#1. Broccoli

 

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Cold-Fighting Index: 82.9
Serving Size: 1.0 each (608g)
Calories per Serving: 207
Good Source of: Vitamin C (903.9 percent Daily Value)

Not only does broccoli have over 900 percent of your daily value of vitamin C, but it is chock full of other nutrients — folate, potassium and vitamin K, to name a few. These all work together to protect the body against free radicals and help cuts and wounds heal. If you’re looking for a big immune system boost, broccoli might just be your new best friend.

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