What to eat to help beat back a cold this winter

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Research from the University of Auckland suggests eating flavonoid-rich foods- found in green tea, apples, blueberries, cocoa, red wine and onions- may help to reduce the risk of catching the common cold.

The research, being presented today at the Dietitians Association of Australia National Conference in Perth, found that adults are 33 percent more protected from the common cold if they eat flavonoids or take flavonoid supplements, compared with those who do not.

Nutrition researcher Dr Andrea Braakhuis from the University of Auckland says people who eat flavonoids also have fewer sick days.

What to eat to help beat back a cold this winter

“These findings show that if you’re generally healthy, eating flavonoids found in lots of fruits and vegetables can help stave off the bugs over winter,” says Dr Braakhuis.

“We’d all love to make it through winter without one of these nasty colds. […], so it’s worth giving flavonoids a go as part of a healthy diet,” says Dr Braakhuis.

EAT MORE: Must-eat immune foods

At this stage, she says it’s too soon to recommend whether foods or supplements are a better source of flavonoids, and what the ideal dose is.

“Eating five serves of vegetables and two of fruit each day, in a variety of colours, will put you well on the path to getting enough flavonoids. Make sure your dinner plate is at least half full of vegetables, sip green tea over winter and enjoy the occasional red wine,” says Dr Braakhuis.

What are flavonoids?

Flavonoids are phytonutrients that are responsible for the colour of many plant-based foods.

There are many types of flavonoids and their health benefits are thought to be due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

What to eat to help beat back a cold this winter

Try this: Immune-booster smoothie
A nutritious smoothie packed with flavonoid-rich foods and New Zealand manuka honey
Prep: 5 minutes
Serves: 1

1 cup coconut water
1 apple, chopped
1 large handful of bluerberries
1 tsp to 1tbsp raw cacao
1 heaped tsp NZ manuka honey
Dollop of natural yoghurt

1. Place all ingredients into a blender and puree until smooth.
2. Pour into a large glass to serve. Serve chilled.

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