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5 Grocery Store Items That Help You Combat COVID

From foods to supplements, here are five things to add to your grocery cart right now.
tea aisle

Life as we knew it won't resume until a coronavirus vaccine becomes widely available. In the meantime, you may want to consider adding certain products that you can find right now at your neighborhood grocery store to your diet. According to research, common items like zinc and green tea may lessen the severity of COVID-19 symptoms and combat the spread of the virus that causes it. While you're at the supermarket, don't forget to check out these 8 Grocery Items That May Soon Be in Short Supply.


Green Tea

green tea being poured into cup

A new study co-authored by De-Yu Xie, a professor of plant and microbial biology at North Carolina State University, suggests that specific chemical compounds in green tea have the ability to inhibit the main enzyme or protease (Mpro) in SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19.

"Green tea has five tested chemical compounds that bind to different sites in the pocket on Mpro, essentially overwhelming it to inhibit its function," Xie said. (If the protease enzyme is inhibited, the virus can't replicate. The protease inhibitors prevent the virus from forming mature particles.)

It's important to note that the research is still in its early stages, according to Xie. "To demonstrate the medicinal applications of these compounds and extracts, it has a long way to go," he told Eat This, Not That!


Dark Chocolate

dark chocolate

Dark chocolate was another common grocery item to show promising results in the same study. The researchers observed how the Mpro in the SARS-CoV-2 virus reacted once it came into contact with different plant chemical compounds, in particular ones that exhibit both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Computer simulations found that chemical compounds in dark chocolate and cacao powder were able to bind to different portions of Mpro, and lab experiments further showed that the compounds could reduce Mpro's activity by about half. In other words, dark chocolate may have the ability to lessen the severity of COVID-19's spread in the body—but it likely wouldn't be able to stop it completely on its own.

Bottom line: Eating a few squares of dark chocolate weekly isn't a bad idea—especially if it doesn't include any added sugars.


Muscadine Grapes

muscadine grapes

Two varieties of muscadine grapes were also observed in the study. In the lab experiments, the chemical compounds found in two types of the southern grape breed were able to completely inhibit Mpro's function.

"Muscadine grapes contain these inhibitory chemicals in their skins and seeds," Xie said in a statement. "Plants use these compounds to protect themselves, so it is not surprising that plant leaves and skins contain these beneficial compounds."


Vitamin D

omega 3 capsule

Several studies have shown that vitamin D—specifically D3—may help to lessen the severity of COVID-19 symptoms. Researchers and doctors believe this is partially possible because of vitamin D's ability to support immune function. Low levels of the vitamin can put you at greater risk of infection and cause other issues such as impaired wound healing. The body naturally produces vitamin D3 from sun exposure, which is why it's important to take a supplement during the winter months when there's less sunlight.

In an Instagram Live interview with Jennifer Garner, leading infectious disease expert Dr. Fauci said, "I would not mind recommending—and I do it myself—taking vitamin D supplements." Speaking of the vitamin, be sure to read The One Food Doctors Are Urging Everyone To Eat Right Now.




As is the case with vitamin D, the mineral zinc is also crucial in supporting the immune system. In a different Eat This, Not That! article, Dr. Cedrina Calder, MD said zinc can help the body fight against pathogens.

"Higher risk of infection and adverse outcomes coincide with populations with chronic diseases and elderly who are at risk of zinc deficiency," researchers wrote earlier this year in Advances in Integrative Medicine. "Through several mechanisms zinc may prevent, reduce severity and duration of symptoms."

While more research needs to be done in order to find direct evidence, it may not hurt to incorporate more of the mineral into your diet. Always be sure to check with your doctor first before taking any supplements.

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Cheyenne Buckingham
Cheyenne Buckingham is the news editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in food and drink coverage, and breaking down the science behind the latest health studies and information. Read more