Cold and flu season has arrived and soon you’ll likely find yourself strolling down the medicine aisle at your local supermarket. But solutions to those common viruses and their pesky symptoms can actually be found throughout the store. A number of widely known food ingredients are proven to be effective at preventing and treating colds and flu.
Vitamin C, echinacea, zinc, elderberry, and menthol are among the most effective homeopathic cold- and flu-fighting ingredients found in dietary supplements. But food is medicine, too, and Label Insight’s technology identified those and other healthy ingredients in a variety of food products.
Essential Cold and Flu Fighting Ingredients
Let’s start with vitamin C. It is a water-soluble vitamin that helps protect cells and keep them healthy. But vitamin C isn’t produced by or stored in the body, so we need to add it to our diet daily, reports mayoclinic.org. Consuming vitamin C increases the amount of iron we can absorb from plant sources such as kale, broccoli and sprouts.
Zinc, meanwhile, is important for the body's immune system due to its antioxidant properties. Studies show that it can also reduce cold symptoms. For adults, the recommended daily allowance for zinc is between 8 and 11 milligrams. Foods containing zinc include oysters, lobster and other seafood. Beef, pork and chicken – known for their protein – also include zinc. Eat vegetables such as mushrooms, legumes and spinach, and you’re also covered for zinc.
Derived from herbs such as peppermint, eucalyptus and pennyroyal, Menthol is actually effective when taken orally to treat asthma, bronchitis, colds, flu and other respiratory ailments. Menthol can also be applied to the skin.
Echinacea is an herb that Native Americans used as an effective treatment for colds and flu long before Europeans landed in North America. Elderberry, used as far back as ancient Greece, is a valuable antioxidant for fighting colds and flu – as well as airsickness.
Cold and Flu Remedies in Many Store Aisles
Label Insight identified thousands of food products that contain many of the valuable nutrients mentioned above. Beyond the usual fresh fruits and vegetables, there are other surprising products that include these desired ingredients. Among the supermarket aisles to visit are these:
The Bread Aisle
Wheat bread, English muffins, bagels and rye bread are among the smart choices here. Oh, and don’t forget croutons. Of those products, our data found the bread products with the best cold/flu-fighting ingredients as wheat bread, bagels and dinner rolls.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, of course, and cereal is an essential staple of that kickoff meal. Look for cereals labeled as “multi-grain,” “bran” or “granola” or that contain corn, oats, rice, or wheat. You also can’t go wrong with oatmeal.
Juices and Similar Drinks
Apple, cranberry, orange and grape are longtime favorites from the juice aisle. But new drink choices include fruit smoothies, aloe juice, mango juice and mixed fruit/vegetable choices. Juices that are best able to fight cold and flu are apple, cranberry or mixed juice products. But be careful; make sure they’re 100% juice and not juice cocktails.
The health benefits of various teas shouldn’t be overlooked either. Our data found those desired ingredients in herbal iced tea and white tea concentrate. And who doesn’t appreciate the warming relief of steam rising from a cup of hot tea with honey?
Adding homeopathic ingredients to your diet is no guarantee that you’ll skip the flu this season, but consuming more “better for you” products can improve your overall health and wellness.
Thus far in 2017, the United States experienced “low-level seasonal” flu virus activity, but the spread of flu viruses regularly increases in the fall through the spring of the following year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. So now is good time to stock up on cold- and flu-fighting ingredients in your diet.
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