You might think that March will mark the end of cold and flu season, but the beginning of spring often heralds a second wind for the flu virus, which brings along higher instances of other respiratory illnesses like the common cold. Unlike the flu, there is no vaccination for the common cold, but you can work to prevent it or at least reduce the severity of symptoms with a few healthy habits. One of the most trusted methods for fighting a cold is ingesting high doses of vitamin C, which can boost the immune system. Though vitamin C won’t fend off a cold completely, it can help you shorten the amount of time you’re sick and lower the impact that the illness has on your body. Instead of simply reaching for vitamin C supplements, you should try to get this nutrient through dietary sources—primarily fruits and veggies. Before you peel an orange, however, think about the following foods that all contain more vitamin C per serving than the bright citrus.
Topping the list of vitamin C powerhouses is bell peppers, which contain about three times as much of the vitamin compared to oranges. Red bell peppers will give you the most, but green, orange, and yellow still offer a good dose of vitamin C. If you want to spice up your meals, hot chili peppers are a smart choice, because they boast high levels of vitamin C just like their sweeter cousins.
Strawberries are one of few fruits you can find in the grocery store year-round, and they are a crowd favorite to serve to the whole family during cold season. One cup of strawberries offers almost 90 mg of vitamin C along with other beneficial nutrients like folate and potassium.
Pineapple may be the ultimate recovery fruit, because it not only helps shorten the lifespan of a cold with a hefty dose of vitamin C, but it has anti-inflammatory properties that can ease post-workout recovery. If you brave the gym while you have a cold, make sure you pack pineapple slices or add pineapple to your pre-workout smoothie to help you feel better faster.
If you’re feeling like something more exotic, look for fresh papaya in the produce section. The flesh of the fruit is delicate and sweet, and the seeds are edible too—though they have a stronger flavor that makes them a more ideal addition to salads than a standalone snack. Papaya packs in 88 mg of vitamin C per 1-cup serving, and studies have shown that this fruit may help in clearing the sinuses and keeping skin healthier.
There’s a reason that the kale trend will never truly die out. Kale is one of the ultimate superfoods, offering vitamins A, K, and C in high amounts. You might also be surprised to learn that kale has essential fatty acids and calcium as well, so it should be a staple in your regular diet.
There is an assortment of familiar veggies in the cabbage family—broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts to name a few. Each can bring big nutrition to the dinner table with tons of fiber, vitamin C, and protein. Because these vegetables have so much substance, they are great centerpieces for a meal, offering a veggie alternative for main courses.
Along with the right diet to fend off a cold, quick medical attention can do wonders to help you feel better. As soon as you start to feel a sniffle or a sore throat, connect with MeMD to get fast and reliable care that will help you get back to your routine.