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Soup! To Chase Away Your Cold

Image of Gingery Veggie Soup
By Cheryl Forberg, RD

We’re smack dab in the middle of cold season, and if you’re lucky, you haven’t yet succumbed to a cough, sneeze or sniffle. But if the winter woes of a cold already haunt you, don’t call on antibiotics for help. The common cold is caused by a virus and antibiotics treat bacteria.

Luckily there is a natural way to shift your body into prevention gear and fire up your immune system with cold-busting foods. And a revved-up immune system can stave off much more than just a cold.

Antioxidant-rich, nutrient dense foods including whole fruits, vegetable, grains and omega-3 rich foods provide a diverse range of tastes and textures to appease the pickiest of eaters while packing a powerful punch to keep your immune system humming this winter or anytime. (And the fact that they can help to slow the aging process doesn’t hurt either.)

Here are some potent cold-busting foods to top your next shopping list. Turn up the volume on your immune system to combat colds before they knock you out.

Chicken Soup (1) – the most requested food of cold sufferers. Though its medicinal role isn’t clearly defined, a slew of doctors agree this all-time favorite has a certain je ne sais quoi that seems to work wonders. It may be the steaming broth acting as a decongestant, or a combination of some of the ingredients that elicit an anti-inflammatory response from the respiratory system. Either way, few foods offer the same soothing combo of savory comfort and old-fashioned memories.
Image of Citrus Fruits
Citrus Fruits (2) - contain a myriad of antioxidants, including the star power of Vitamin C. But it’s not all in the juice. Most of the vitamin C in oranges is actually found in the peel (53 percent), while lesser amounts are found in the juice (23 percent) and the pulp and rind (21 percent). Be sure to zest your fruit and stir it into your juice or your favorite recipe.
Image of Garlic
Garlic (1 & 4) - has a distinctive role in enhancing immune function among its many health benefits. It has also shown promise in moderating healthy cholesterol levels, antitumor activity and antioxidant properties.
Image of Ginger
Ginger (5) – contains several phytochemicals, including shogaol and zingerone which have anti-tussive and anti-inflammatory properties. This means they bring relief for cough and congestion from a cold or the flu.
Image of Mushrooms
Zinc - Rich Foods - zinc is a potent supporter of several different immune functions. Zinc-rich foods include Mushrooms, Fresh Parsley, lean beef, low fat dairy and sesame seeds.

Additional Guidelines for Prevention
  • Wash hands frequently – this is the number one form of cold transmission
  • Avoid nutrient-poor foods which are processed, refined, fried, including sugar, excess fat & salt
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Moderate exercise (or lay off for a couple days if you’re feeling hammered)
  • Minimize stress
  • Optimal hydration - drink plenty of fluids; especially if you have a fever
Whether you’re trying to stay at the top of your game, or you’re already in the throes of a nasty cold, here is a recipe to tickle your palate while chasing away the chill.

Gingery Veggie Soup
This souped-up version of the ultimate comfort food features fresh soy beans, and tofu – hello Meatless Monday!

Yield: eight 1 cup servings

Image of Ingredients for Gingery Veggie Soup
1 tablespoon Grapeseed Oil
1 large Yellow Onion, chopped
1 medium Carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 stalk Celery, finely chopped
1 tablespoon Fresh Ginger, peeled and minced
1 tablespoon Minced Garlic
4 cups Nonfat Reduced-Sodium Chicken or Vegetable Broth
3 tablespoons Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
8 ounces Extra Firm Tofu, cut in ½ inch cubes (about 2 cups)
1 cup Shelled Edamame (uncooked)
1 cup Plain Soy Milk or Low-fat Milk
¼ cup Fresh Cilantro (Fresh Coriander), chopped

Image of In a large saucepan, heat the grapeseed oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the carrot, celery and ginger; sauté for 1 minute. Add the garlic and sauté until softened but not browned, about 30 seconds
In a large saucepan, heat the grapeseed oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until soft and translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the carrot, celery and ginger; sauté for 1 minute. Add the garlic and sauté until softened but not browned, about 30 seconds.

Add the broth and soy sauce and bring to a boil. Add the tofu and edamame and return to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the tofu is hot and the edamame is tender, about 3 minutes. Add the soy milk and cook until heated through; do not boil.

Remove from the heat and stir in the cilantro. Ladle into individual bowls and serve.

Nutrition Analysis (serves 8)

Calories 100
Calories from Fat 40
Total Fat 4 grams
Sat Fat <1 g
Trans Fat 0
Cholesterol 0
Sodium 460 mg
Total Carbohydrate 8g
Fiber 3g
Sugar 4g
Protein 7g
Vitamin A 30%
Vitamin C 6%
Calcium 10%
Iron 6%
  1. "Chicken Soup Inhibits Neutrophil Chemotaxis In Vitro" Rennard, B, Ronald F. Ertl, BS; Gail L. Gossman, BS; Richard A. Robbins, MD, FCCP and Stephen I. Rennard, MD, FCCP Chest. 2000;118:1150-1157
  2. With permission from Stop the Clock! Cooking: Defy Aging – Eat the Foods You Love, Penguin Group, 2003
  3. "Garlic - A Natural Source of Cancer Preventive Compounds" Das, S. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2002;3(4):305-311
  4. “Garlic and aging: new insights into an old remedy” Rahman, K Aging Res Rev. 2003 Jan;2(1):39-56
  5. Pharmacological studies on ginger. I. Pharmacological actions of pungent constituents, (6)-gingerol and (6)-shogaol Suekawa M, Ishige A, Yuasa K, Sudo K, Aburada M, Hosoya E. J Pharmacobiodyn. 1984 Nov; 7(11):836-48.
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