PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- To fight the flu, what foods are packed with the nutrients that could help? Look for bright colors. Those foods have anti-oxidants that could keep you healthy.
Beta-carotene, for instance.
"Sweet potatoes, carrots, and dark, dark leafy vegetables are packed full of beta carotene," says Heather Mangieri of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "If you cook carrots, it provides more antioxidants than uncooked carrots. Throw a handful of kale into a smoothie with a banana, ice, and some grapes, you won't even taste it."
Beta carotene makes your skin strong and healthy. Your skin is an important line of defense against micro-organisms, like viruses.
Vitamin C is controversial when it comes to curbing the common cold, but it's worth a try.
"Green peppers, red peppers, yellow peppers, and of course, oranges and grapefruits. But berries, actually top the charts when it comes to antioxidants per serving," Mangieri continues."Three-fourths cup of the berries over the course of a day is one serving of fruit, it's easy to get if you incorporate it into foods you already enjoy."
In some studies, megadoses of Vitamin C can decrease cold and flu symptoms. That would be 1,000 milligrams every hour for six hours.
Vitamin E and Selenium
You can also give Vitamin E and selenium a crack.
"Nuts happen to packed with Vitamin E and selenium," says Mangieri. "Almonds and walnuts are my favorite, but actually brazil nuts. Just two brazil nuts provides greater than 100 percent of the selenium needs per day."
When you don't have enough Vitamin E, viruses are more likely to change from harmless to harmful. And selenium is thought to help infection-fighting white blood cells make cytokines -- proteins your body makes to help clear viruses.
And if done right, this tasty treat could do more than your taste buds good.
"Hot chocolate is great way to end the evening on a cold night, but there's a catch. You have to use straight cocoa. Aand cocoa is a great source of flavanols," says Mangieri. "If you drink hot chocolate you want to make it home made."
Flavanols are thought to reduce inflammation and could disrupt the function of viruses.
And if you're looking for specific vitamins and minerals, you don't need to pop a pill. Just a little of these healthy foods can go a long way.
"You don't need a huge portion of these foods," she adds. "I always say, vitamins are the icing, and your diet is the cake."
Other natural things you can do to fight or prevent the flu -- 1) stop smoking, 2) avoid stress and get plenty of rest to keep your germ-fighting killer cells in good supply, and 3) exercise to kick your immune system into gear.
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