Cold fighting super foods

November 27, 2019 Swedish Nutrition Team

As flu season approaches, stocking up on superfoods that help your immune system can help you ward off illness.

  • Try certain fruits with antioxidants to boost your immunity.
  • Spices like ginger and garlic have some surprising health benefits.
  • Salmon once a week can increase illness-fighting white blood cells.


If you’re stocking your cabinets with boxes of tissues and cold medicine to prepare for the upcoming cough, cold and flu season, don’t forget to stock your refrigerator as well. Nutrient-rich superfoods can help improve your immune system, reduce inflammation and ward off illness.

Adding more superfoods to your diet won’t replace a flu shot or regular checkups, but they can be a valuable—and tasty—component of your wellness efforts. 

Nutrient-rich superfoods can help improve your immune system, reduce inflammation and ward off illness.

Here are six foods to add to your regular menu to boost your immune system.


Blueberries are loaded with antioxidants, phytoflavinoids, potassium and vitamin C. In other words, they are one of your best diet choices if you’re trying to avoid getting a cold or cough. Blueberries also have anti-inflammatory properties that can help your body fight off infections.


Ginger’s spicy warmth is another powerful anti-inflammatory. Ginger helps break up your congestion and clear your respiratory tract. It contains phytochemicals that help fight the viruses that can cause a respiratory illness. Try it in your tea or as a spice in your next baked good.

If you are pregnant or on blood thinners, check with your doctor before upping your ginger consumption.


Garlic does more than just keep vampires at bay. Fresh garlic contains allicin—a compound with antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal properties that work together to improve your health. Add in the small but mighty bulb’s healthy portions of manganese, vitamin C and vitamin B6 and you’ve given yourself an important advantage during cold and flu season.

Raw honey

When your throat is raw and sore, the antimicrobial compounds in raw honey can help soothe and heal the inflammation. Raw honey has strong antibacterial properties and it stimulates your immune system and suppresses your cough.

Honey should not be given to children younger than 12 months old. To get this golden elixir’s full benefits, be sure you’re using raw, locally produced honey not commercial honey, which is heavily processed and does not produce the same results. Try it mixed in with warmed apple juice for a soothing effect on your throat.

To get honey's full benefits, be sure you’re using the raw, locally produced kind and not commercial honey, which is heavily processed and does not produce the same results. 


Salmon is a high-quality, lean protein that fights inflammation and improves how well your immune system functions. It’s an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, zinc and vitamin D, all of which are good for your immune system. Eating salmon boosts the production of lymphocyte cells—white blood cells that produce antibodies, attack bacteria and destroy viruses.

Dark chocolate

Not only is dark chocolate delicious, it packs a powerful nutritional punch. Dark chocolate contains plant phenols that can lower blood pressure. It has a good amount of the antioxidant theobromine, which can help reduce coughing and fight off other cold symptoms. Look for chocolate with a cocoa content of 60 percent or higher to get the maximum health benefits.

Find a doctor

The Swedish nutrition specialists can help you develop a healthy eating plan that boosts your immune system and improves your health overall. Find a doctor you can trust in our provider directory.

Working to give you suggestions on how to #eathealthy to fight #colds @swedish

Related resources

Have a happy holiday, not a heart attack

2018-19 Flu shot recommendations

Can you overdose on cold supplements?

Healthy eating with Swedish: videos, tips, recipes and more

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

About the Author

The Swedish nutrition team seeks to bring you expert advice and tips on how to fill your plate with the right nutrients to fuel your body in the healthiest way possible.

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