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7-Day Menu for Cold and Flu Season

Foods to Boost Immunity, Help Healing, and Fight Coughing

Day 4: Meals for Cold and Flu Season

Breakfast: Oatmeal made with low-fat milk or light soy milk (fortified with vitamin D) and topped with ground flaxseed, walnuts, or pecans and frozen berries, served with a cup of freshly brewed hot green or black tea or coffee.

Lunch: Bean burrito made with a whole-grain tortilla, black or pinto beans, reduced-fat cheese, and chopped tomato and onions and spiced up with taco sauce, served with fresh mango, papaya, or cantaloupe and a cup of freshly brewed hot green tea.

Dinner: Spaghetti made with mushroom and garlic marinara and whole wheat spaghetti noodles, served with steamed cauliflower and a glass of nonfat or low-fat milk.

How They Help Your Immune System

Caffeine from tea or coffee can act like an antihistamine in the body, Leopold says. But the tea and coffee need to be of high quality and freshly brewed. The milk from breakfast and dinner will contribute a dose of vitamin D, which has a key role in the immune system. “People don’t get enough vitamin D, particularly during the flu season,” Leopold says.

The whole-grain servings from the oatmeal, tortilla, and spaghetti noodles deliver good amounts of several minerals important to the immune system -- selenium, zinc, and iron. The beans add folic acid and selenium. Mango, papaya, and orange are all great sources of two key vitamins -- vitamin A and C -- and cauliflower contributes folic acid and vitamin C.

The spaghetti dish has three ingredients that help the immune system, besides the whole-grain noodles. Mushrooms are thought to stimulate the body’s natural killer cells, garlic appears to have antibacterial and antiviral effects, and the tomato-based marinara is rich in many high-powered antioxidants, including vitamins A and C.

Anti-inflammatory omega-3s are found in the walnuts and ground flaxseed.

Hot liquids are soothing, Leopold says. Just breathing in the steam from the hot tea or coffee can be helpful.

The hot pepper sauce in the burrito -- along with other “hot” spices like cayenne, wasabi, or horseradish -- all help cold symptoms temporarily by getting the sinuses running.

Day 5: Meals for Cold and Flu Season

Breakfast: A bowl of Raisin Bran (or another whole-grain breakfast cereal fortified with iron and vitamin D) with low-fat or skim milk or light soy milk (fortified with vitamin D), two soy-based sausage links, and a cup of freshly brewed green tea or coffee.

Lunch: Grilled cheese sandwich made with whole wheat bread and reduced-fat cheese, served with broth-based onion soup and a cup of grapes.

Dinner: Fish tacos made with corn tortillas or whole wheat flour tortillas, broiled halibut, shredded cabbage, and sautéed bell peppers and onions, with mango or tomato salsa.

How They Help Your Immune System

Raisin Bran is particularly high in iron. Soy-based sausage also adds iron. The milk in the cereal, plus the cereal itself, and the fish in the tacos also contribute a nice dose of vitamin D. The fish adds omega-3s and selenium as well.

Onions are rich in quercetin, a nutrient that might have antihistamine benefits, specifically for nasal congestion. The onion soup has double benefits for cold/flu symptoms -- the quercetin plus the soothing effects of a hot, broth-based soup. 

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