The Best Food to Eat When You Have a Cold

The common cold is a viral infection of one of more than 100 viruses of the upper respiratory tract, according to 12. There is no cure for the common cold 2. Medications used to treat common cold symptoms simply alleviate typical symptoms, such as nasal congestion, fever and body chills, but they do not shorten the length of the cold 2. The "Reader’s Digest" magazine website recommends modifying the diet during a cold to help support the body’s immune system. Talk with your doctor before modifying your diet to treat the common cold 2.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Common Cold Symptoms

The common cold needs to be diagnosed by a medical doctor 2. Do not self-diagnose or treat, simply based on symptoms. Common cold symptoms include:

  • an itchy throat
  • watery eyes
  • sneezing
  • runny nose
  • coughing
  • mild fever
  • chills
  • a minor headache 2 recommends that if a fever increases above 100.5 F, a doctor should be consulted 1.

Foods to Incorporate

"Reader’s Digest" recommends drinking orange juice on a daily basis to increase vitamin C intake. Vitamin C may shorten the duration of the common cold 2. Incorporating fish, chicken, turkey, oatmeal and bananas all help to protect white-cell producing organs. Certain foods have high levels of anti-inflammatory properties, such as apples, tomato sauce and cranberries. recommends increasing liquid intake, such as water and fruit juices 1. Herbal teas and other hot liquids will help to keep mucus secretions thin and expelled from the body.

Foods to Avoid

Avoid foods that can dehydrate the body and increase mucus production. Eliminate alcohol and caffeinated beverages while you have symptoms of the common cold 2. These beverages can deplete the body of its water supply, leading to dehydration and increased nasal congestion. Avoid highly refined foods that are made with refined sugars and flours.

Chicken Soup Consideration

MedlinePlus recommends eating chicken soup to help alleviate some common cold symptoms 2. Chicken soup has been proven as an effective treatment for common cold symptoms 2. Research reported by states that chicken soup helps to inhibit neutrophils, which cause inflammation 1. Chicken soup also thins mucus in the nose, helping to move excessive mucus from the sinuses. The heat from the soup melts the mucus, much like placing lard in a hot frying pan.


The common cold is prevented by consistent hand washing, disinfecting commonly used items and avoiding people that appear to be sick 2. recommends keeping children home from school or daycare when they are diagnosed with the common cold 12.