13 Immunity-Boosting Foods to Help You Beat a Winter Cold — Because Flu Season Is Here, And It's the Worst

If you're already sick and tired of being sick and tired this winter, it might be time to take matters into your own hands and learn to combat cold and flu season with a few delicious immunity-boosting foods. At the risk of sounding like a granola-crunching hippie, I'll proudly admit that I rarely indulge in Western medicine, and only go to the doctor when a) death is imminent, or b) my company offers an employee health incentivized pay out plan, to which I say, "Bring on the biometric screening, 'cause mama needs a new duvet cover!"

I'm no flower child, but I do strongly believe in the healing power of whole foods. From garlic, to blueberries, to chocolate, this healthy list includes easy-to-find ingredients for easy-to-make recipes that will relieve congestion, reduce inflammation, and boost your energy levels. After all, if you are what you eat, wouldn't you rather resemble the sweet bright glow of a citrus fruit rather than some 14-syllable chemical you can't even pronounce? Here's wishing you a happy and healthy cold and flu season, people. Get well soon. 

Image: Making Thyme For Health 

Garlic

Garlic contains allicin, a sulfuric compound that produces potent anti-inflammatory antioxidants, meaning if you’re already sick, garlic will get you better faster. If raw garlic is too strong for you, brush that bulb with olive oil and throw it in the oven. Then blend it into a comforting roasted garlic and tomato soup like Naturally Ella does here

Image: Naturally Ella 

Fish

Oily fish, including salmon, tuna, and mackerel, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help kick-start your immune system by reducing harmful inflammation and anxiety levels in the body. The Healthy Foodie adds a delightful crunch to her salmon with a simple maple walnut crust

Image: The Healthy Foodie 

Carrots

Carrots are rich in beta-carotene. Our bodies convert beta-carotene into vitamin A, which boosts our immune system and helps keep the mucus membranes in our nose and throat functioning properly. Head to Blogging Over Thyme to see how Laura adds a colorful pomegranate pop to her roasted carrots. 

Image: Blogging Over Thyme 

Blueberries

Blueberries contain the most active antioxidants of any fresh fruit, thanks to their high levels of anthocyanins, making them the perfect immunity-boosting snack. Rather drink your antioxidants? Green Kitchen Stories shows you how to blend the perfect blueberry coconut super smoothie

Image: Green Kitchen Stories

Dark Leafy Greens

Dark leafy greens are known to help relieve chest congestion and runny noses, and, life hack alert: the darker the greens, the more nutrients they pack. Power up with Love & Lemons’ roasted cauliflower kale salad

Image: Love & Lemons 

Red Peppers

Red peppers are super high in vitamin C, packing about 150 milligrams a pop. But to fight that cold you’ll need 400-500 milligrams per day, so triple that red pepper dose in Bare Root Girl’s snap pea and red pepper frittata, and dice your way to better health!

Image: Bare Root Girl

Citrus Fruits

Everyone with a pulse knows that citrus fruits are the go-to source for vitamin C, but did you know that studies have shown that taking vitamin C at the first sign of illness may reduce a cold’s duration by an entire day? Go ahead and double your vitamin C dose with this blood orange salad with cayenne blood orange vinaigrette, courtesy of Simply Scratch. 

Image: Simply Scratch 

Oats

The old faithful oat contains a type of fiber called beta-glucan, best known for its magical ability to lower cholesterol and boost immunity. Blogger With Style and Grace tops her oats with torched bananas. Double nom. 

Image: With Style and Grace 

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are nutrient-dense powerhouses, containing immune-boosting antioxidants, potassium, B vitamins, and fiber. Making Thyme For Health’s creamy mushroom and barley soup recipe is one you have to try. 

Image: Making Thyme For Health 

Yogurt

Eating probiotic foods like yogurt is a great way to replenish “good bacteria” in the body, which promotes digestive health and helps prevent stomach illness. See how Healthful Pursuit gets her probiotics by replacing mayo with yogurt in her garlic aioli recipe

Image: Healthful Pursuit 

Dark Chocolate

Chocoholics rejoice — not only does pure cocoa contain a ton of disease-fighting antioxidants known as polyphenols — it also contains a healthy dose of zinc, which will reduce the severity of that head cold. Just make sure you reach for a chocolate bar containing at least 70 percent cacao. Oh She Glows shows you how to DIY dark chocolate almond butter with just four ingredients. 

Image: Oh She Glows 

Spices

Cooking with spices like cinnamon, coriander, ginger, and cayenne promotes sweating and can help break a fever. They’re also know to unclog sinuses by shrinking the blood vessels in your nose and throat to help relieve uncomfortable congestion. Learn how to blend the ultimate sick day soup, packed with loads of lemon and cayenne, courtesy of Cookie + Kate. 

Image: Cookie + Kate 

Oysters

Oysters contain more natural zinc than any other food, which will help you fight off that common cold faster than any manufactured lozenge. Get your zinc in oyster stew form, thanks to the culinary prowess of Never Enough Thyme. 

Image: Never Enough Thyme