10 Flu-Fighting Foods You Should Stock Up On

by | December 4, 2013 at 2:15 PM | Food, Health

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These nutrient-rich gems can dial up your natural defenses in as little as two days.

By Brenda Kearns, iVillage.com

Broccoli
Enjoy two cups a week and your white blood cells could attack invading flu viruses as vigorously as they did when you were a kid, UCLA research shows. Sulforaphane, a chemical found in broccoli, switches on genes that make your immune system feistier, explains lead researcher Andre Nel, M.D.

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Seafood
Salmon, tuna, shrimp…whatever seafood you love, enjoying two six-ounce servings weekly can cut the lifespan of viruses by 42 percent, say European researchers. Seafood is packed with selenium and zinc — immunity-boosting nutrients often missing in today’s hurried diets.

Pink grapefruit
Eat half a pink grapefruit daily and you’ll cut your risk of the flu as much as 20 percent, (at the least bounce back three days faster if you do fall ill), say UCLA researchers. Pink grapefruit contains double the antioxidants of its paler cousin — antioxidants kick-start the growth of virus-killing immune cells.

Garlic
This herb is packed with 70 sulfur compounds that fire up infection-fighting antibodies within 48 hours. One clove daily can do the trick. For best results, let chopped garlic sit on the cutting board for 10 minutes before cooking — the air allows converts the garlic’s sulfur compounds into their most active flu-fighting form.

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Sweet potatoes
They’re nature’s richest source of beta-carotene, a nutrient that strengthens the respiratory tract lining so that even aggressive flu viruses have trouble sneaking through, says Daniel Nadeau, M.D., co-author of ”The Color Code. Munch a half a cup daily, and you’ll cut your risk of illness by 33 percent.

Black or green tea
Either tea can help your body produce proteins that quickly destroy viral invaders. Sip 20 ounces (about two and a half cups) a day to up production by three times. You can feel better in as soon as five days, say Stanford University researchers.

Mushrooms
Mushrooms help energize sluggish white blood cells, doubling your ability to fight off flu viruses, say researchers at University of California, Davis. And any mushroom will do the trick, so experiment! Try criminis, portabellas or enokis if you find button mushrooms dull.

Red wine
Women who sip four to eight ounces of red wine daily are 30 percent less likely to catch the flu compared to teetotalers. Flavonoids — plant compounds found in purple and red grape skins — block the growth and spread of viruses, say Yale researchers. But stick to one.

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Turmeric
This spice can add a golden hue and mildly spicy flavor to any dish, and 1/4 teaspoon daily strengthens immunity in as little as seven days, say researchers at San Francisco’s University of California.

Greek yogurt
Your digestive tract produces 70 percent of your immune cells, making it a key line of defense against the flu. “Greek yogurt contains the healing bacteria your digestive tract needs to function at its peak, but none of the immunity-weakening sugars found in regular yogurts,” says Fred Pescatore, M.D., author of “Boost Your Health With Bacteria.” To cut your infection risk as much as 58 percent, enjoy one cup of Greek yogurt daily.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.