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TIPS: Foods that fight colds and flu

health-and-fitness Updated: Jan 23, 2012 20:16 IST

AFP
Highlight Story

It's that time of year again. In addition to post-holiday food comas and winter lethargy, cold and flu season lurks around the corner ready to pounce on weakened immune systems and ill-prepared victims.

In a recent study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, researchers in New Zealand found that eating gold kiwifruit could help reduce the severity of colds. Here are some other cold- and flu-fighting foods that could help keep illness at bay, according to the experts at WebMD.com.

Garlic
Stuffed up? Garlic contains a natural antibiotic called allicin, which fights viral and bacterial infections and acts as a decongestant.

Tea
Whether it's green or black, tea is chock full of polyphenols or antioxidants which have antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.

HoneyHoney

Honey acts in multiple ways: in addition to having antioxidant and antibacterial properties to help fight viruses, honey also helps to coat the throat and provide relief. Use it to sweeten tea and you get double the benefits as tea is also a good cold and flu-fighter.

Spices
Spices like turmeric, cloves and cinnamon are packed with antioxidants which help boost the immune system. Spicy foods can also act as a decongestant and get the sinuses running.

Mushrooms
Mushrooms are high in beta-glucans which can help fend off a cold by targeting and destroying disease-causing cells, and boost immune systems which have been weakened by chronic illness.

Salmon and other fatty fish
A landmark US study published in 2009 found that people who were vitamin D deficient were more likely to catch colds and the flu. Salmon is a good dietary source of vitamin D.

Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, an antioxidant which mops up damaging free radicals and helps strengthen the immune system.

BroccoliBroccoli and other green vegetables

Broccoli contains antioxidants and is rich in vitamin C, making it a powerful weapon in fending off colds and viruses. That goes for other green, cruciferous or leafy vegetables like spinach and cabbage which also contain glutathione, an infection fighter.

Ginger
Ginger has been used in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine to ward off colds and flu, and is said to be a natural pain reliever and fever reducer. Some studies suggest it can also help with inflammation.

Chicken soupChicken soup

It's called Jewish penicillin for a reason. In a study published in the journal Chest, researchers confirmed that chicken soup had a mild anti-inflammatory effect that reduced symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections.