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20 Food Combos That Prevent Common Colds

Ditch the chalky vitamin C tablets and dive into one of these foods to prevent colds!

Do you ever just sip on a glass of orange juice when you feel a cold coming on? Sorry to break it to you, but OJ by itself isn't as powerful as formerly believed. Numerous studies have popped up indicating that vitamin C can prevent and ease the symptoms of the common cold if paired with zinc. It's all about bringing together the right vitamins. That's why we made this list of combos of foods to prevent colds. To best help you out!

Below, we've come up with a bunch of ideas on how to get your C and Z at the same time. Because as much as you know you need your vitamin C, a study from The Journal Of International Medical Research in Switzerland revealed that two billion people worldwide have some degree of a zinc deficiency. And that's a shame—because when zinc is paired with an antioxidant like vitamin C, its effects unlock a new gear that helps heal wounds throughout the body and boosts immunity.

It's important to note that while these two don't necessarily cure a common cold, they do ward off symptoms from arising if consumed in considerable amounts. If you are already infected with the cold, pop a supplement of vitamin C and another of zinc. When taken simultaneously, a plethora of the virus-fighting nutrients will surge through your bloodstream and ease the symptoms and life of the cold in your body. But to avoid getting sick in the first place, why not indulge in these delicious meals? Read on to see the 20 food combinations that can help prevent colds.

Strawberry and spinach salad

Strawberry spinach salad

This salad may be light in calories, but the nutrition it provides sure isn't. While spinach doesn't have the most significant amount of zinc in it, it does provide the body with iron, another essential mineral. This is an interesting thing to note because when spinach is paired with strawberries, aka one of the most vitamin C-stacked fruits out there, it enables the iron to be absorbed more quickly. Why? It's simple: vitamin C aids in the absorption of iron, which is also vital for immunity—and maintaining energy levels— because it produces hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is another name for red blood cells, which is essential for transferring oxygen from the lungs to tissues. Pretty important stuff! Drizzle some balsamic vinegar and feta cheese atop this powerhouse to receive a fancy (and delicious) aesthetic.

Chickpeas and tomato salad

Chickpea and tomato salad, foods to prevent colds

Did you know that one 1/2 cup serving of chickpeas provides two grams of resistant starch? In addition to being chock-full of fiber, healthy fats, and a bit of protein, they also have zinc to boot! Pair these earthy legumes with its vitamin C counterpart, the tomato, and you've got yourself an awesome side dish. In addition to their juicy savor, tomatoes are rich in lycopene, which not only gives it its red pigment, but it also has antioxidant-like properties that can help fend off cancer. Grab your spoon and keep that cold away with this sweet and filling duo!

Beef and potato stew

Hearty beef and potato stew with bay leaves ready for dinner

Beef may not be classified as a superfood, but for this article's purpose, it may as well be. Just three ounces of beef provides a whopping 7 milligrams of zinc, which nearly fulfills the whole 8 milligrams that's all the recommended dietary allowance for non-pregnant women. Men, on the other hand, need around 11 milligrams of zinc per day. Let's not forget about the potatoes, which are the vitamin C component! Together, the two make a cold-combatting pair, and it also gives you an excuse to dust off the old crockpot.

Roasted pork with sautéed broccoli and mushrooms

Roasted mushrooms and broccoli on a plate

Speaking of meat, pork is another excellent source of zinc. While its zinc content isn't as impressive as beef's, there's another ingredient in this dish that contributes a substantial amount of zinc. Shiitake mushrooms not only add to the savory essence of this dish, but a single cup packs on another 1.9 milligrams of the mineral. Broccoli sweeps in to provide a hefty amount of vitamin C, 42 milligrams per half-cup to be exact! To put this into perspective, this serving constitutes roughly 70 percent of your daily needs of vitamin C. Not too shabby! Dig in and you'll shoo that cold away in no time.

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Fortified cereal with blackcurrants

Cereal with berries and blackcurrants

Who would have thought cereal would provide zinc? The cereal with the most zinc in it would have to be Kellog's All-Bran complete wheat flakes. It provides nearly 350 percent of your daily needs (per 100 grams, based off of a woman's needs of 8 milligrams a day). Additionally, blackcurrants hold a wealth of vitamin C. Just one cup of this fruit contains as much vitamin C as three large oranges! Take a break from your morning bowl of oatmeal and pour yourself a bowl of this cereal with at least a half-cup of currants.

Curried cauliflower with cashews

Curried cauliflower and broccoli with cashews in a bowl

The Cs own this dish, and vitamin C isn't even mentioned in the title! Cauliflower holds a substantial amount of the vitamin, whereas cashews bring some zinc to the table. Not only does zinc help keep your immune system strong, but it also promotes the production of collagen, which helps with the formation of hair, skin, and nails. Don't be shy with the cashews in this dish!

Grilled chicken with mango salsa

Grilled chicken with mango salsa and slices of lemon

Calling all connoisseurs of healthy chicken recipes, we have another idea to add to the list! Chicken, specifically the dark meat portion, houses 2.4 milligrams of zinc per three ounces, and just one cup of a ripe, juicy mango offers about 60 milligrams of vitamin C. That's 100 percent of the daily value of the antioxidant! Cut into this refreshing and protein-packed chicken for a sweet rendition of a savory meat! Also, make sure to not refrigerate your mango! It is meant to grow in warmer climates and will actually adopt a different, not-so-appetizing flavor if you place it in a cool environment (like the fridge.)

Chocolate covered cherries

Dipping chocolate-covered cherries

It would be a downright crime if there wasn't any mention of a dessert, especially because dark chocolate is loaded with zinc and one of the best foods to prevent colds. A 100-gram bar gives women more than 100 percent of their daily needs of the mineral, whereas it just falls short of meeting a man's needs of 11 mg at about 9.6 milligrams. Cherries, of course, are full of vitamin C, especially the acerola or barbados cherry, which houses a whopping 134 percent of vitamin C.

Pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and red bell pepper

Pasta with greens and sun-dried tomatoes, foods to prevent colds

If you're a person who does a lot of cardio such as running and/or swimming, then you need to refuel your body with a sufficient amount of carbs. If you do this during the wintertime, you also need to make sure you load your body with a surplus of vitamin C and zinc because running in the cold weather or leaving the indoor pool with wet hair while it's below 30 degrees can make you more susceptible to catching a cold. This dish solves all of your problems in one warm, delicious meal. Sun-dried tomatoes house the zinc, while the red bell pepper houses a great amount of vitamin C, all great foods to prevent colds.

Lobster with satuéed asparagus

Lobster and cooked asparagus

Talk about a fancy meal! And this is supposed to combat the common cold? Believe it or not, yes. Why? Three ounces of cooked, tender lobster provides about 32 percent of your daily needs of protein, it also contains an adequate amount of zinc and vitamin B12 as well. Asparagus offers a bit of vitamin C to the plate, too; The combination of asparagus and lobster are great foods to prevent colds. So if you need an excuse to dine like royalty, this is one easy reason!

Kale and pumpkin seed salad

Kale and pumpkin seed salad, foods to prevent colds

Unless you've been stowed under a rock for the past decade, you'll know that kale is praised to an outstanding degree in the health world, and for good reason. This bundle of green not only gives you an outrageous amount of vitamin K per cup (like over 1,000 percent, in case you were wondering), but it also gives you 80 milligrams of vitamin C, which is over 100 percent of the daily value. Pumpkin seeds also clock in high with nutrition, most notably in zinc. Enjoy this nutrient-filled salad with wild-caught salmon for a complete meal.

Crab with sprouts and spicy papaya salad

Grab with sprouts and papaya

One can of blue crab meat contains over half of a woman's daily needs of zinc (8 milligrams/day) clocking in at 4.7 milligrams. This also makes a considerable dent in that of a man's needs of zinc, who needs to eat 11 milligrams to ensure that enough testosterone is produced. As for the lentil sprouts, they also add a dash of zinc to the mix! Finally, the sweet yet spicy papaya dressing brings a wave of vitamin C to this Thai/coleslaw creation. Shake up your lunch menu with this light meal!

Sautuéed oysters with pork and Brussels sprouts

Cooked oysters with rice, foods to prevent colds

Satuéed oysters taste a bit tastier than raw, but eating just six of these in their raw state gives women 400 percent of their daily needs of zinc—one of the powerhouse foods to prevent colds! Additionally, just four cooked brussels sprouts provide 108 percent of your daily needs of vitamin C. But beware, eating brussels sprouts are not going to help you get rid of bloating because they can actually cause bloat.

Pineapple, avocado, and spinach smoothie

Green smoothie with pineapple and spinach, foods to prevent colds

If you're in need of some smoothies for weight loss, this is the one for you. Pineapple may be loaded in vitamin C, but it also provides the body with another very important element called bromelain. This enzyme actually helps to reduce inflammation in the body that was caused by infection and/or injuries. In addition, it helps alleviate the pain that's caused by acid reflux. Avocados, on the other hand, not only make this smoothie creamy and laden in zinc, but they also aid in blasting lower abdominal fat. This smoothie may as well be called a potion for all of the magic it bestows upon the body!

Raspberry and kiwi layered chia smoothie

Kiwi and raspberry chia pudding parfait

Maybe slurping on a smoothie isn't your forte, which is why this recipe idea is perfect for you! Between the layers of raspberry, kiwi, and other assorted fruits lies a healthy serving of chia seeds. Talk about an antioxidant-rich treat! Raspberries offer a bit of zinc to the mix, while just one kiwi offers 85 percent of the daily need for vitamin C, one of the best foods to prevent colds! This parfait beats them all!

Dates and orange smoothie

Date and orange smoothie with an orange straw, a smoothie made with foods to prevent colds

Just when you thought you read enough about smoothies, we're throwing one more into the mix because its health benefits—and its flavor—are just too immense to neglect. Dates are actually used in a lot of vegan desserts because its richness and density act as a sufficient stabilizer, which makes up for the lack of eggs and butter in something like a cookie. The dried fruit provides the zinc, and the orange houses good old vitamin C. Sip on this creamy shake for a boost in immunity, stat!

Fig and nut oatmeal with cantaloupe

Oatmeal with cantaloupe and coffee during breakfast

There's a lot going on in this meal, and while figs and cantaloupe are the star contestants of this dish, every component featured here is an all-star for combating that ferocious common cold. Apricots actually provide more zinc than figs, but when paired together on the same plate, their effects are unstoppable. Cantaloupe is loaded with vitamin C and pairs well with plain Greek yogurt! Deck out your next Sunday breakfast with these nutrient-dense dishes.

Tuna poké bowl with red cabbage and black sesame seeds

Tuna poke bowl with lots of nutritious foods to prevent colds

Poké is all the rage now, and it's no surprise after viewing its nutritional profile. One serving, or four ounces, clocks in at under 150 calories! What it lacks in calories and fat (as if that were a bad thing), it replenishes in protein and zinc. But those black sesame seeds aren't just for decoration, either. Just ¼ cup provides 25 percent of your daily needs of zinc, based on the adult woman's standard needs of 8 milligrams a day. Finally, the vibrant red cabbage houses an astounding 50.7 milligrams of vitamin C, which conquers 84 percent of your daily need. Join the trend and fight off the virus while you do it with these foods to prevent colds.

Sweet potato wedges with roasted garlic

Sweet potato wedges with seasoning

If you're on the prowl for some sweet potato recipes and are feeling the onset of a bothersome cold, look no further. This simple, yet powerful remedy will do just the trick for you. Sweet potatoes not only provide vitamin C, but they also house a large amount of beta-carotene, another antioxidant that helps fend off heart disease, cancer, and a multitude of chronic ailments. As for the savory contender in this dish, garlic contributes a splash of zinc to the mix as well as, vitamin B6 and magnesium. Ultimately, this good ole spice makes for one incredible, health-driven detox.

Curried lamb with bok choy

Curried lamb with bok choy, one of the foods to prevent colds

What a combination! A half cup of cooked bok choy provides nearly 30 percent of your daily needs of vitamin C, which is equivalent to the 33 percent of the daily value of zinc the four ounces of lamb provides. Jazz up these foods to prevent colds with a generous addition of curry powder for a delicious savor and inflammation-fighting effect!

Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the former news editor of Eat This, Not That! Read more about Cheyenne
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