These Foods Help Fight Off Colds & You Probably Have Them In Your Kitchen Already

by Caroline Burke

When you're stuck in the depths of a never-ending winter — and an especially nasty flu season — you've got to get creative with the ways in which you keep your body healthy. After all, it's not just about washing your hands and coughing with your elbow. Staying healthy through flu season often requires a multifaceted strategy, which includes eating foods that fight colds, getting enough sleep, and telling your best friend that you love her, but you honestly can't hang out with her until she gets rid of that wet cough.

Good nutrition is one of the most direct ways to keep your immune system up and running through the winter months. You are what you eat, and what you eat should make you a flu-battling machine.

The good news is that there are tons of different types of food that are excellent at boosting your immune system, not to mention your overall health, and most of them are probably in your kitchen right now.

The best forms of nutrition to fight sickness are filled with vitamin C, vitamin D, and pretty much anything without processed sugar (sugar works to suppress the immune system, so it's not a great option), to name a few. Here are eight foods to help you stave off a cold as you make it through the rest of the winter season.


Garlic acts as such a powerful antibiotic agent that it has actually been compared to penicillin, because both agents work to kill bacteria in the same way.

I'm not saying you should cut out a doctor-approved form of medicine in exchange for a clove of garlic, but if you want to boost your immune system organically, incorporating garlic-infused meals into your life is a must.


Oranges are packed with vitamin C (and just plain delicious), which makes them a definite necessity in any flu-fighting diet.

Try snacking on this immune-boosting fruit between meals throughout the day. Making a point to eat at least one of these suckers a day is an easy way to ensure that you're getting your vitamins without overthinking it.


OK, this technically isn't a food, but no cold-fighting list is complete without a direct reminder about the importance of hydration.

No matter what, one of the best things you can do to stay healthy is to hydrate all day every day. Do your best to keep up with those eight glasses a day, and your body will be in good shape to handle anything that might come your way.


Fun fact: A serving of broccoli packs more vitamin C than a whole orange. Since vitamin C is an essential component to a healthy, strong immune system, this is your cue to load up on the broccoli tonight for dinner.

Sometimes eating broccoli plain can be boring; personally, I like to spice it up by sautéing it and adding little chunks of the green veg to my salad for lunch.

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is an excellence source of the good types of bacteria. It's filled with probiotics that work to keep your gut healthy which, in turn, will help stave off those nasty cold symptoms that make you feel awful.

If you don't love the taste of a big bowl of yogurt, you can try mixing it into a smoothie to mask the texture or flavor.


Blueberries are, in my opinion, vastly unappreciated as a fruit. Not only are they a gorgeous shade of blue, but they work as powerful antioxidants — more specifically, a type of antioxidant called a flavonoid, which is super effective in reducing your likelihood of catching a cold.

Throw a cup of blueberries into your next smoothie, or every smoothie until March, if you want to be safe.


Kombucha is another yummy option for you to get some probiotic-lovin' in your diet. It's created from yeast and a specific type of bacteria, which are actually great for your immune system and digestion.

You can sip hot kombucha tea, or drink it cold — both will do wonders for your immune system.

Green Tea

Beyond the immune-boosting properties of green tea, this warm drink works to decrease your stress and increase your hydration levels, making it a total win.

Adding a cup of tea to your bedtime routine is a great idea in general. It might even help you sleep better.

Wild Salmon

Wild salmon is rich in zinc, which has been proven to help people stave off the flu and common cold symptoms. Eating this delicious fish is one of the most convenient and tasty ways to get that good dose of zinc into your body.

Olive Oil
J.R. Photography

Olive oil has been proven to boost the body's immunity in some pretty significant ways. In fact, a 2007 study from the British Journal of Nutrition revealed that olive oil can work as an anti-inflammatory agent in the body, meaning it helps your immune system fight off infections.

This is great news, since you can add a little bit of olive oil to just about everything. Drizzle olive oil on your whole damn life, girl.