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5 Best Foods For Colds and Flu

While we might want nothing more than to retreat under a blanket and sleep away the sickness, it’s vital for recovery to know what foods are good for colds and flu, too.

After all, your body will need a helping hand in fighting off the viruses and/or bacteria that have you feeling under the weather – and food is the best backup you could ask for. By eating the right meals and snacks, you can provide your body with the nutrients that it needs to recover.

Read on for a breakdown of the best foods for a cold and flu.

1. Soups and broths

Whether served up by parents to their little ones off sick from school or used as a tonic to get you back to feeling your best, soup is a fantastic food to help with colds and the flu.

Chicken soup, in particular, is the go-to choice for people suffering with sore throats, stuffy noses, and pounding headaches. That’s because a steaming bowl of chicken soup is packed full of the vitamins and nutrients that your body needs to fight off the sickness, including protein, energy-filled electrolytes, and essential amino acids.

For an extra kick, try adding chilli flakes or powder to the soup. The spicy edge can clear your sinuses and get rid of annoying blocked noses, making this tasty food to help a cold even more beneficial!

2. Fruit and veg

If we’re talking about the best foods for a cold, continuing to eat your five a day is so important for fighting off those uncomfortable symptoms.

Citrus fruits and leafy greens are the name of the game here. The best fruits and veg for combating a cold include oranges, grapefruit, spinach and kale – the ones that are packed full of fibre, vitamin C, and antioxidants with each and every bite. It’s these essential nutrients that give your body the helping hand it needs to recover from a cold or the flu.

So, munch on the sweet fruits as a tasty snack to boost your energy levels or include the leafy greens in your meal prep. If you’re looking for inspiration of what to eat with a cold, our recipe for red lentil and spinach dal includes those vital vitamins to give you a much-needed pick-me-up.  

3. Herbal tea

While eating foods that help with colds is obviously important for your recovery, you need to make sure you stay properly hydrated, too. Water and fruit juice are often touted as the best drinks for a cold, keeping your thirst quenched.

However, if you want to add some essential nutrients to your beverage, stick the kettle on and brew up a herbal tea. Herbal teas are amazing at helping recover from cold and flu symptoms as they contain lots of antioxidants. Breathing in the steam from the hot water can also help to unblock sinuses and stuffy noses.  

For a nutritional sweetener, consider adding honey to your herbal tea to help soothe your sore throat with every sip. In fact, research suggests that honey contains antioxidants with anti-inflammatory properties, helping you get rid of that sore throat and headache when you have a cold.

4. Yoghurt

Yes, we’ve already talked up a storm about how yoghurt can help improve gut health, but did you know that yogurt is a great food to eat when you have a cold, too?

The probiotics found in yoghurts help boost your immune system, fighting off the bacteria and viruses that have you feeling under the weather. What’s more, yoghurt is a good source of protein, vitamins, and minerals that are also important for your immune system.

To get a healthy helping of vitamin C as well, sprinkle a handful of berries atop your yoghurt. This tasty combo makes for one of the best foods to eat with a cold!

5. Oily fish

There are so many reasons why having enough protein in your diet is so important for your overall health – and chief among them is the immune-boosting benefit of giving your body more energy to fight off a virus.

In this respect, oily fish are good foods for colds and flu. Not only are they rich in protein goodness, but they are also packed full of omega-3 fatty acids that can help your immune system work more effectively.

Need a recipe for foods that help with colds? Our quick salmon with green beans and pesto potatoes will have you well on your way on the road to recovery!

Whether you want to find out about how long flu lasts or what superfoods can naturally boost your immune system, Benenden Health provides the support and advice you need to feel healthy again. Head over to our Be Healthy hub for more information about foods to eat when you have a cold.

Medically reviewed by Llinos Connolly in April 2024.