The chilly weather has made it harder to keep germs at bay, and with Covid-19 added to the mix, now is a better time than ever to start eating healthy. Thankfully, you can bolster your defenses against winter colds and viruses with foods you probably already have in your fridge.
Garlic activates virus fighters.
Eating one clove of garlic daily could lower your odds of catching a winter cold by 63 percent, suggests a study in the Journal of Immunology Research. Thanks go to garlic’s 33 sulfur compounds — raw materials needed to make virus-destroying cells called macrophages. Tip: Letting chopped garlic rest 10 minutes before cooking allows the sulfur compounds to be converted into their most potent form.
Red grapefruit reduces stress hormone release.
To soothe stress and energize immune cells, enjoy one red grapefruit daily. When the adrenal glands churn out the stress hormone cortisol, it makes immune cells in your lungs slower to respond to invading germs. But University of Arizona scientists say grapefruit brims with vitamin C and lycopene, nutrients that calm the adrenals, cutting your risk of respiratory infections by 25 percent and helping you bounce back three days faster if you do become ill.
Beef stops viral invaders from taking hold.
Savor three 4-oz. servings of beef weekly, and you’ll sail through winter with 58 percent fewer sick days. That’s the word from Australian researchers, who say beef contains an easy-to-absorb form of zinc that destroys invading viruses at their most common point of entry: the delicate tissues lining your nose and throat.
Orange peppers protect sinuses.
They’re packed with compounds (carotenoids) that strengthen the mucous membranes lining your nose and sinuses. No wonder Stanford University scientists say adding a cup of orange peppers (raw or cooked) to your daily diet reduces your chance of a sinus infection by up to 65 percent.
Brazil nuts ward off COVID-19.
One way to help keep COVID-19 complications at bay? Nibble on two selenium-rich Brazil nuts a day. In a British study, COVID-19 patients were three times more likely to have mild symptoms and a speedy recovery if they had a steady trickle of selenium in their daily diet. The mineral binds to viruses, stopping them from mutating.
Eggs supercharge immune cells.
This breakfast favorite offers a trio of nutrients (lutein, choline and branched-chain amino acids) that boost your body’s production of a powerful antiviral compound called gamma interferon by as much as 75 percent, say University of Connecticut investigators. Cook up two eggs daily — any style — and you’ll lower your winter illness risk by 60 percent.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.