Family health

5 foods that fight colds and flu

Keep the cold and flu at bay with these nutritious, smart choices!

By Peggy Kotsopoulos, RHN
5 foods that fight colds and flu

Photo: iStockPhoto

Colder temperatures, shorter days and the hustle and bustle of fall activities can also mean bouts of the cold or flu. Here are some superhero foods that will keep your family healthy and the sniffles at bay.

1. Mushrooms

Whether you’re talking button, crimini or shiitake, mushrooms are amazing immune boosters! Mushrooms are rich in a type of polysaccharide called beta glucan, which has the ability to “activate” the immune system and help prevent infections. It regulates white blood cells and keeps them in a highly prepared state so they are ready to attack any invaders. Mushrooms are also rich in vitamins, polyphenols, sterols and zinc, which all keep our immune systems healthy and strong.

Ways to eat more mushrooms -Mushrooms make the best pizza toppers! Add a mixture of different varieties to your next pizza pie. -Add crimini and shiitake mushrooms to stir-fries -Add button mushrooms to omelettes for an immune system-boost at breakfast -Make burgers out of grilled Portobello caps


2. Kiwi fruit

This sweet, green fruit is jam-packed with antioxidants vitamins C and E. Vitamin C is powerful. It not only helps get rid of a cold or flu, but is essential to preventing it in the first place. Vitamin C increases the production of antibodies and white blood cells, which help fight against infection. Vitamin E is required for the production of immunoglobulins. These act as our bodies’ own personal bodyguards as they destroy all those pathogens that try to do us harm.

Ways to eat more kiwi fruit -Peel, dice and stir into yogurt -Cut into cubes and combine with other berries to make a fruit cup -Toss into your family’s favourite salad -Eat it all by itself with a spoon!

3. Yogurt

Yogurt is rich in probiotic cultures, which are essential for immune health. Approximately 80% of our immune system resides in the gut, so in order to keep our immune system strong we need to keep our intestinal system healthy with probiotics.  Probiotics are live microorganisms (good bacteria) that help to fight off all the bad bacteria. They also help fight illness by increasing the number of virus-fighting cells. 

Ways to eat more yogurt -Blend yogurt with frozen strawberries, banana and almond milk into a frothy shake -Mix with spices and seasonings to make a veggie dip -Stir a cup of greek yogurt with frozen blueberries to make an instant blueberry frozen yogurt -Layer with salsa, shredded lettuce, diced veggies and cheese for healthy spin on a nacho layer lip -Dollop greek yogurt on top of your fave chili recipe

4. Pumpkin seeds


These delicious seeds are rich in immune boosting vitamin E, zinc and essential fatty acids, including the anti-inflammatory, antioxidant omega-3. Zinc helps to increase the production of infection-fighting white blood cells and T cells.

Ways to eat more pumpkin seeds -Toast up some seeds and sprinkle on salads or creamy soups for an immune-boosting crunch -Mix seeds with dried blackcurrants, dried cranberries and other seeds and nuts for an on-the-go trail mix -Add pumpkin seeds to breakfast cereals or mix with oats, coconut oil and maple syrup for a homemade granola

5. Garlic

Garlic is nature’s antibiotic. It’s antibacterial, anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-oxidant properties help to not only fight infection, but to ward off sickness in the first place. Garlic contains sulfur-based organic compounds, which give garlic its funky order and help boost the immune system.

Ways to eat more garlic -Blend 1-2 cloves garlic with 2 cups cooked chick peas, olive oil, lemon and sea salt to make a delicious hummus—can be eaten with pita triangles, crackers or veggie sticks. -Finely mince garlic and mix with diced tomatoes and freshly chopped basil, then spread on top of whole-wheat pita Top the mixture with grated mozzarella cheese and bake for a mini pizza. -Cut a baguette into 1-inch slices, brush with olive oil and toast in the oven until crispy. When done, take a whole garlic clove and rub across the top of each slice for instant garlic bread. -Finely mince garlic and mix into greek yogurt along with grated cucumber and dill for a quick tzatziki or dipping sauce.

This article was originally published on Oct 12, 2020

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