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9 Natural Flu-Fighting Foods

Eating and drinking right can help boost your immune system

  • Power Eating

    En español l You know what flu season means — get a flu shot and do whatever you can to stay healthy. These foods (and teas) can help you fend off the flu, and eat and drink well too. — Sam Kaplan; Stylist: Matt Vohr for Halley Resources

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  • Black-Eyed Peas

    These nutritious legumes are rich in zinc, a trace mineral that keeps your immune system in working order. Pinto beans, peanuts, roasted pumpkin seeds and wheat germ are other good choices. — Sam Kaplan; Stylist: Matt Vohr for Halley Resources

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  • Carrots

    They're rich in beta-carotene, which your body uses to ward off respiratory infections. Other good sources are dark green vegetables, sweet potatoes, pumpkin and winter squash. — Sam Kaplan; Stylist: Matt Vohr for Halley Resources

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  • Tea

    Green, black and oolong tea all contain naturally occurring compounds that reduce the risk of flu, including quercetin, a powerful antioxidant, and L-theanine, an amino acid found only in tea. Decaf teas contain the amino acid, herbal teas don't. — Sam Kaplan; Stylist: Matt Vohr for Halley Resources

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  • Yogurt

    Probiotics, the beneficial bacteria found in yogurt and other fermented foods, strengthen the immune system. Not a fan of yogurt? Try cottage cheese, kimchi (a fermented Korean dish made of seasoned vegetables) or sauerkraut instead. — Sam Kaplan; Stylist: Matt Vohr for Halley Resources

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  • Tomatoes

    Vitamin C-rich tomatoes boost the body's natural defense system in the same way their citrusy relatives do. One medium tomato provides 40 percent of your daily vitamin C, so have a glass of tomato juice at lunch and treat yourself to pasta with tomato sauce for dinner. — Sam Kaplan; Stylist: Matt Vohr for Halley Resources

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  • Mushrooms

    These powerhouses increase the body's resistance to viral infections by boosting the activity of natural killer cells, a vital part of the immune system. Mushrooms are rich in selenium, low levels of which can increase the risk of developing a severe flu. — Sam Kaplan; Stylist: Matt Vohr for Halley Resources

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  • Almonds

    These popular nuts are a rich source of the antioxidant vitamin E, which helps your body ward off viral infections. To maximize the absorption of vitamin E, opt for chopped almonds, almond butter or almond oil. — Sam Kaplan; Stylist: Matt Vohr for Halley Resources

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  • Chicken Soup

    It may not prevent the flu, but a bowl or cup of soup can help your immune system fight off the virus in its early stages, thanks to a compound called carnosine. The only catch: You need to consume chicken soup throughout your illness to reap its benefit, says a 2012 study. — Istockphoto

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  • Wild Salmon

    It's high in vitamin D, which the immune system needs to kill harmful bacteria and viruses, says John S. Adams, M.D., professor at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. Farm-raised salmon has less, but is also a good source. — Istockphoto

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