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6 Foods that Fight the Flu

January 7, 2014

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The seasonal flu is a contagious respiratory illness that spreads from person to person by coughing and sneezing and by touching an object or surface with the flu virus on it. That makes riding the New York City subway a risky undertaking in the wintertime.

On average, 5 to 20 percent of us will get the flu each year.  But if you’re skeptical about the flu shot, in addition to washing your hands frequently, try fighting the flu with these immune-boosting foods.

1. Black-eyed peas

My dad makes a big pot of black-eyed peas every New Year’s Eve for good fortune. And these lucky legumes are rich in zinc, a trace mineral that keeps your immune system working well. Zinc is also found in lean beef, tofu and peanuts.

2. Pink grapefruit

It’s no secret that vitamin C is a natural cold and flu fighter.  And eating half a pink grapefruit – which has double the antioxidants than pale grapefruit – each day will reportedly decrease your risk of getting the flu by as much as 20 percent. Oranges, lemons and strawberries are also rich in vitamin C.

3. Tea

Here’s more evidence that tea is better for you than coffee. Research reveals that theanine, an ingredient found naturally in tea, supports the immune system.  In a clinical trial, drinking five cups of black tea per day for two to four weeks boosted the body’s immune system by four times. And green tea contains an antioxidant compound called EGCG, which works with your immune system to ease inflammation. To get an extra immune boost, add a lemon wedge to your tea.

4. Yogurt

The probiotics found in yogurt prevent the spread of viruses in the gut and intestinal tract.But only brands with a “Live & Active Cultures” seal will do the trick. Other naturally fermented foods that can fight the flu are kefir, tempeh and sauerkraut.

5. Almonds

Research found that naturally occurring chemicals in the skin of almonds increases the immune system’s ability to fight a variety of viruses, including those that cause the flu and the common cold. Other food sources rich in vitamin E include fortified cereals, sunflower seeds and turnip greens.

6. Carrots

If you load your salad with carrots, you won’t have to ask, “What’s up doc?” during flu season.  These colorful veggies are packed with beta-carotene, which the body uses to fight respiratory infections. Other good sources of beta-carotene include dark leafy greens, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash.

What foods will you eat to fight the flu?