Nope, it’s not the smell of garlic that scares away the bacteria and viruses that make you feel sick. According to Alissa Rumsey, RD, CDN, CNSC, CSCS and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, it’s allicin, the major active component found in garlic, that’s responsible for its antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. Research studies have shown that people taking garlic supplements experienced fewer and less severe colds compared to those taking a placebo. “Garlic also helps promote healthy gut flora, which rids the body of toxins, bacteria and viruses,” says Mirchandani. While you could pop a pill, Rumsey says it’s best to eat the actual thing. “The active components are more bioavailable when you eat real garlic.” Try whipping up this Roasted Garlic Paleo Pesto (pictured above) next time you feel the sniffles coming on
While sweet potatoes may not be considered a traditional cold-fighting food, they’re a great source of Vitamin A, which plays a key role in maintaining the health of your mucosal surfaces. “That includes the inside of your nose and your gastrointestinal tract as well as your skin. You might not think of your skin as part of your immune system but it keeps infections from entering your body. It’s your first line of defense,” says Rumsey. “Keeping your mucus membranes healthy is key to keeping infections at bay.” These Spicy Sweet Potato Fries and Avocado Dip will help you load up on good old vitamin A — while simultaneously satisfying your winter comfort food cravings.
One of the most recent spices to be crowned a superfood, turmeric is a rich yellow powder often used in curry dishes. It’s high in antioxidants and considered a natural anti-inflammatory. “If you take it on a daily basis, it is known to relieve the body of toxins,” says Mirchandani. “It has been shown that people who consume turmeric are less susceptible to colds, coughs and congestion.” Order up a curry from your favorite Indian restaurant or mix up this Fresh Turmeric Tonic for a quick immunity boost.
Dark Leafy Greens
While people typically associate citrus fruit with vitamin C, dark leafy greens, like spinach, kale, Swiss chard and arugula, are also great sources of the cold-fighting vitamin. According to Rumsey, some research shows that if you consistently take in adequate amounts of Vitamin C, it can reduce the duration of a cold. Mirchandani recommends sautéing vegetables and combining them with other healthy spices and foods, such as garlic. When the greens are cooked, they shrink in size and you can consume more of the vegetables than if you were eating them raw. Remember – the darker the greens, the higher the nutrient content. This Fall Cleanse Kale Salad should do the trick.