10 Best Foods to Fight Spring Colds

by Kristina Brooks Editor

As the winter starts to fade, our immune systems might be a bit weaker, leaving us susceptible to one last cold before the change of seasons. Here are foods packed with cold and flu -fighting nutrients.

Cultured foods

Trillions of bacteria work to create a healthy balance in our digestive and immune systems. Yogurt and kefir products help fight off bad bacteria types while feeding good bacteria. Look for yogurts with a ‘Live and Active Cultures’ seal to know you're getting what you need. Some people add honey to yogurt, but good bacteria thrive when there’s as little sugar as possible.


The USDA Agriculture Research Service and Cornell University have found that blueberries are the most powerful antioxidants out of all commonly eaten fresh fruit. This is due to their high amount of vitamin C and anthocyanins. Antioxidants help fight free radicals that can latch on to chemicals in the body and cause infections or disease.

Seeds and nuts

Seeds and nuts offer antibacterial or antioxidant power to fight colds. Use anise seeds as a tea up to three times a day to ease coughing or congestion. Pumpkin seeds, high in vitamin E and zinc, can reduce the time you're sick with a cold. Antioxidants in sunflower seeds reduce phlegm, and protect cell walls from damage that can open them to infection. Lastly, only a few brazil nuts a day have enough selenium and cytokine proteins to battle bad bacteria.


Garlic contains an antimicrobial ingredient allicin, which helps fight against bad bacteria like yeast, rids the body of toxins, and promotes healthy gut flora. Studies have shown that garlic can not only help you recover from colds, but also ward them off. Although there are garlic supplements, garlic has its greatest impact raw or as aged garlic extract.


Coming out of spring, your body is naturally low in vitamin D which is a key cold fighter. Wild salmon, tuna, or sardines are high in Vitamin D, and pair well with citrus and a yogurt dressing - also beneficial for colds. These are likewise rich in zinc and omega 3s which reduce inflammation. This helps stimulate good blood flow to remove toxins.


Mushrooms may be a type of fungus, but they are great for increasing the antiviral proteins in your body. Viral infections are the ones for which you can't take medicine, so prevention is your best cure. Mushrooms also are a good source of potassium, B vitamins and fiber.

Sweet potato

Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, that later turns into vitamin A, and is found in other bright orange veggies, such as carrots. This boosts T-cell function, which blocks or destroys harmful cold-causing bacteria. Vitamin A also strengthens mucosal surfaces such as your eyes, skin, nose and digestive system - all key targets for pesky colds.

Red peppers

Red peppers are similar to citrus fruits in that they are extremely high in vitamin C. One pepper has about 150 mg of the vitamin. While that’s twice the daily recommended amount for women, you’ll need four times as much a day if you have a cold. Nevertheless, peppers can be paired with yogurt dips and are an easy way to snack your way to better health.


Vitamin D doesn't just fight depression and build strong bones, but also helps combat our risk of catching a cold. Vitamin D in milk helps build up weakened immune defense from a lack of sun during winter months. Vitamin D milk can also help lower risk of respiratory infections, as well as thicken mucus and phlegm to help flush out respiratory bacteria.


While it isn't a food, it’s one of the best things you can take with your food to make sure you get the nutrients you need to stay healthy. A multivitamin will fill in the gaps in nutrients you may miss from day to day. Multivitamins will also flush out excess nutrients, which individual supplements may not do.

Kristina Brooks
Meet Our Writer
Kristina Brooks

Kristina Brooks was a digital editor at HealthCentral with a background in animal biology, ecology, and health science. While studying broadcast journalism, she discovered the great need for health reporters that could translate research to the public. In her work, she hopes to use research to help consumers make smart decisions about their healthcare, and empower patients to stay confident and in charge of their chronic conditions. She helped launch HealthCentral's inaugural MythWeek.