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Many people immediately reach for a glass of orange juice when they feel a cold virus starting to attack, in hopes that vitamin C will help to prevent their sickness or reduce symptoms. As it turns out, this practice isn’t rooted in old wives’ tales. Clinical studies have shown that vitamin C does indeed boost immune systems and help you heal from the common cold by shortening the duration of symptoms.*
The common cold is caused by a virus, so antibiotics are not effective at curing the illness. Since the best thing we can hope for is to prevent colds from starting, and to help ourselves heal more quickly when we do get a cold, immune-boosting nutrients play a critical role in treatment. As it turns out, reaching for that orange juice right after your first sneeze is probably a very good idea. It’s best to continually supply your immune system with plenty of vitamin C, through either diet or supplementation, in order to prevent a severe cold from even happening. But if you’ve forgotten to take this step, some studies* do suggest that supplementing from the moment of onset certainly can’t hurt.
To keep a steady supply of vitamin C in your diet and in your body, you don’t necessarily have to chug orange juice every day. There are many other foods that contain even larger doses of the vitamin, such as these:
- Chili peppers – eating spicy food on a regular basis can help to boost your immune system. As a bonus, peppers also contain capsaicin, which may help to relieve joint and muscle pain.
- Red and green bell peppers – Red bell peppers also contain vitamin A.
- Kale – this is a true superfood, as it’s chock full of vitamin C, vitamins A and K, and several important fatty acids and minerals.
- Broccoli – this vegetable also fights cancer, making it one of the best foods for your immune system.
- Papaya – aside from being packed with vitamin C, this fruit is known to help clear your sinuses.
- Strawberries – these are full of vitamin C and other heart-healthy nutrients like folate.
- Cauliflower and cabbage – both contain plenty of vitamin C, so don’t skip them at the salad buffet.
- Pineapple – this fruit also contains bromelain, a natural anti-inflammatory agent.
- Kiwi and mango – these tropical fruits contain mega doses of vitamin C, and will add some variety to your diet.
Aside from boosting your immune system and preventing colds, all of these foods contribute to your overall health and youthful appearance. Remember that nutrient-dense foods such as these should make up the bulk of your diet, while empty calories should take a backseat to good nutrition.