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Fruits & Veggies – Cold & Flu Season’s Honored Heroes

While some of us usher in the holiday season with joy, others will be lamenting its inevitable companion, cold and flu season. Colder air means sealed up windows, recirculated air, and closed spaces where germs flourish, and there seems to be little escape from them when they arrive.

But while germs are falling on us like a Christmas Eve snow, they are more apt to cling to some and bypass others. What makes the difference? Food. It’s our best defense against poor health, and that translates directly into our day-to-day susceptibility to viruses. Healthy eating is our armor against life-threatening disease, just as it is against the pesky cold, and fruits and vegetables top the list of cold and flu resisters.

Here are some guidelines for armoring up for the coming season.

Boost Your Immune System. A consistent intake of high nutrition means you are getting vitamins, minerals, fiber and antioxidants, which offers tremendous help in fighting off viruses. Start by getting 4-5 servings of fruits and veggies every day. It will help you resist colds and flu, and if they come, your body fights them off quicker and gets you back on your feet in days, not weeks.

Go Frozen. It may be the best thing that has ever happened to nutrition. Today, freezing fruits and vegetables when they are at their peak preserves taste and nutrition – as much as if they were fresh, and possible more. There’s no reason not to eat frozen any time of year. Fruits like berries are sky-high it immune-boosting nutrition and antioxidants. It’s like your own daily flu shot against winter germs.

Choose Phyto Foods. Dr. James Sears, a regular on NBC’s The Doctors, and friend of Wild About Health, offers this advice in Parenting for cold and flu season: eat foods packed with phytonutrients. Phytos are found in deep-colored fruits and veggies such as blueberries, tomatoes and spinach. The color intensity signals immune-boosting power. Try these phyto-intense recipes that combine phytonutreint-rich wild blueberries with an array of favorites.

Eat Citrus. Oranges and grapefruits are not only available all winter long, but they are less expensive in the winter months. These fruits are notoriously high in vitamin C, and while the research into the vitamin C-cold connection is inconsistent, what is certain is that these fruits offer a wide variety of phytonutrient compounds, and they have antioxidant and immune boosting properties.

Opt for Real. We tend to reach for supplements to maintain our health in the winter, but remember that foods with vitamins and nutrients will trump vitamins in pill form every time. Why? It may have to do with synergy. Fruits, for example, offer combinations of nutrients – including not just vitamins, but minerals, flavonoids, and anitoxidants. These nutritional components work together and work with other foods to provide the immune system boost that provides the prevention.

Lean on Greens. The irony is that we eat less of the foods we need most in the winter. Colder months mean less fruit and vegetable intake. It may be the desire for comfort food combined with holiday eating, which often translates into lots of meaty, sweet, high-fat dishes. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Regularly eating a dinner that has leafy greens like spinach and kale as the primary ingredient will boost your defenses. Leafies are full of the vitamins and antioxidants your body pines for during cold and flu season. Try these 10 get-your-greens recipes from BlissTree.

More To Cure 

Want more foods that will have you striding confidently through flu season? Check out this list of foods that prevent cold and flu from Livestrong.com. You can also view this slideshow from WebMD that breaks down the basics about how to fight flu with food.

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