Ah, wintertime. In spite of the (sometimes) bitter cold, there's so much to love about this time of year. After all, this is the season of blissfully oversized sweaters, piping hot drinks, and attacking  unsuspecting loved ones with your freezing cold hands (seriously, though, it's hard to top a good fingers-of-ice sneak attack). However, there's definitely a major downside to wintertime: Cold and flu season. With so many people around you falling prey to the sniffles, the sneezes, and who knows what else, you're probably wondering how you can make it out of cold and flu season illness-free.

Well, have no fear, because there's one thing you do every day that can help keep sickness at bay: Eating. By putting the right foods in your body, you can help boost your immune system and dodge all of the nasty bugs and viruses going around. Read on to learn about five foods that can help boost your immune system, and how they pull it off. 


salmon, seafood, fish, salmon fillet, Protein
Jocelyn Hsu

Most people would immediately think of eating fruits and veggies to get the nutrients they need to fend off colds. While fruits and vegetables are definitely important in keeping sickness at bay, proteins are just as important! Proteins have the iron and zinc you need control inflammation, send oxygen to your cells, and just generally keep your immune system running quickly and efficiently. Get your protein from a variety of meat sources such as chicken, turkey, and seafood. Vegetarian or vegan? Choose foods like tofu, beans, and lentils, instead! 


apple, juice, sweet, pasture
Santina Renzi

Now, this one’s a given. Fruits are obviously a healthy choice, but it’s important to make sure you’re eating a variety of fruits to boost your immune system. After all, each fruit has different benefits. Citrus fruits such as oranges, kiwi, and strawberries offer the antioxidant vitamin C, while bananas and watermelon offer vitamin B6. Mix up the types and colors of fruits you eat to make sure your body receives a wide array of vitamins and minerals.


cabbage, broccoli, carrot, vegetable, swiss chard, kale, local produce, fresh vegetables, farmer's market
Sam Jesner

The other half of the traditional “fruits and veggies” combo, vegetables are packed full of nutrients that can help boost your immune system. Virtually every vegetable provides one vitamin or another (sometimes even multiple!), so it’s important to make sure you’re eating a variety of veggies in order to get all of the vitamins they offer. Just like with fruit, think “color is key” as you fill your plates with green veggies like broccoli, spinach, and kale; orange vegetables like sweet potatoes, orange peppers, and carrots; and red veggies like red peppers and red cabbage. 

Nuts and Seeds

nut, almond, walnut, apricot pits, hazelnut
Torey Walsh

Vitamin C is practically famous for keeping the sniffles away, but there’s another vitamin that can boost your immune system: Vitamin E. Along with some vegetables, nuts and seeds are a great source of vitamin E. Pump up your immunity by munching on almonds, peanuts, or sunflower seeds for a simple afternoon snack. 

Green Tea

Green, tea, teacup
Rebecca Buechler

While not technically a food, the polyphenols in green tea could help stimulate the cells in your body that fight back against viruses. So the next time you settle in for the night with a blanket and a warm drink, consider filling your mug with green tea to give your immune system a little boost. 

When it comes to cold and flu season, the overall mantra to follow is to not skimp on your fruits, veggies, healthy fats, and lean proteins. By putting the good foods listed above in your body, you can boost your immune system and help hold all that sickness at bay. Choose a plate full of color, fresh produce, and wise dietary choices, and you'll keep the doctor away for more than just a day!