In addition to tea, honey and oranges, researchers in New Zealand suggest adding another all-natural weapon to the arsenal against the common cold, with an uncommon food the gold kiwifruit.
In a study funded by the largest marketer of kiwifruit and published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers found that eating gold kiwifruit reduced the severity and duration of head congestion and the duration of sore throats.
The findings were reported by online trade publication NutraIngredients-USA.com last week.Gold kiwifruit are rich in vitamins C and E, folate, polyphenols and carotenoids, nutrients that are known to help boost the immune function and mitigate symptoms of infection.
Regular green kiwis are rich in antioxidants and contain more vitamin C than oranges, while bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli and pineapple are also good sources of the immune-boosting nutrient.
In addition to strengthening the body's defense systems, vitamin C has been shown to help speed up recovery, say the experts at WebMD.com.
Other cold and flu-fighting foods that have been shown to help defend the body against viruses and bacteria include tea and honey, while garlic acts as a natural decongestant.
For the New Zealand study, researchers observed the effects of gold kiwifruit versus bananas in the diets of 32 elderly participants over the age of 65, and found that the number of days in which subjects suffered from a sore throat were cut from 5.4 to 2 days, while the number of days suffered from head congestion fell from 4.7 to 0.9 days.
Participants were asked to consume four kiwifruit daily for four weeks, followed by a four-week washout period, and were then put on a diet of two bananas daily for another four weeks. Blood samples were taken at baseline and after each treatment.
Where the gold kiwifruit failed to demonstrate any measurable results was in reducing symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections or URTI in older people.