Stay Well All Winter

Everyday Food, January/February 2011

Eat up! These foods will keep your immune system strong all season, to help you avoid catching a cold or the flu.

Garlic
Allicin, a compound in garlic, fights bacteria and stops viruses from reproducing. For a potent dose, use crushed raw garlic in salads or pasta dishes.

Broccoli
Your immune system weakens as you age, but sulforaphane, a compound in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, stimulates the cells that fight infection.

Red Bell Peppers
About 90 milligrams of vitamin C a day are enough to keep your body on guard against germs. Red bell peppers are the top source -- just half of one has 76 milligrams, compared with 35 in half an orange.

Apples
In addition to being good for your heart, soluble fiber can help you recover quickly from an illness, one study found. Get your fill from unpeeled apples (the peel contains most of the fiber).

Mushrooms
The most common white button type can increase your body's production of antiviral proteins that work to ward off infection. Try them sauteed or in a frittata.

Yogurt
Employees who had a daily dose of probiotics, the good bacteria in yogurt, took fewer sick days than those who didn't, one study found. Aim for one cup of low-fat plain yogurt a day.

What If I'm Already Sick?
Tuck into a bowl of chicken soup -- studies show it can prevent inflammation that causes symptoms such as coughing and congestion, says registered dietitian Angela Ginn, of Baltimore. Add a dash of cayenne -- it helps reduce nasal stuffiness so you can breathe easier.

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