NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Healthy Diet = Fewer Colds

Healthy Diet= Fewer Colds


          There are almost as many ways people use to avoid catching a cold or the flu during the winter as there are snowflakes on the ND ground during January.  Frequently washing your hands, getting adequate sleep, wearing dry, warm clothes and skipping shaking hands with those who are ill have all been found to have a positive impact on our health.  Another simple method to include in our “stay healthy” plan is to eat healthy.  Try -

          Plenty of liquids to insure your body is well hydrated. The human body is 61.8 percent water by weight. A well hydrated body is better able to fight off viruses and bacteria and prevent them from taking up residence in your body.  How much water to drink is sometimes called the “8 x 8 rule" - eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day.

          Protein is a building block for a healthy immune system. Choose lean red meats, poultry and fish, dried beans and soy. You can also choose protein-rich plant sources with heart-healthy fat, like peanut butter and nuts.

          Choose foods rich in vitamins C and E. These two antioxidant-rich vitamins protect cells — including those of your immune system — from damage by toxins in the environment. Choose citrus fruits/juices, melons, mangoes, kiwi, peppers, tomatoes, berries, broccoli, cabbage, sweet/white potatoes, winter squash, leafy greens, almonds, hazelnuts, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, safflower oil, whole grains and fortified cereals several times a day.

          Add a zinc-rich food to your daily diet to increase the production of white blood cells in your body. Research shows that this effect can reduce the number of days you’ll suffer from a cold. Foods rich in zinc include yogurt, lean red meat, poultry and fish, almonds, pumpkin seeds and fortified cereals.

           Looking for a powerhouse food prepared in a way to maximize its benefits?  Try old-fashioned bean soup. Dried beans are a good source of protein and iron; they're naturally cholesterol-free and low in fat and sodium; and they even contain calcium. As if that wasn't enough, they're also high in fiber and folate.  Because beans contain both soluble and insoluble fiber, they can help decrease cholesterol and maintain a healthy digestive track, so they're a wise choice for heart-healthy eating. They're also a very economical source of protein.



Spicy Tomato Bean Soup




1/4 pound dry black beans

1/4 pound dry Great Northern beans

1/4 pound dry red kidney beans

1/4 pound dry pinto beans

1/4 pound dry green split peas

1 14 1/2 – 16 oz. can stewed tomatoes

1 beef-flavor bouillon cube

1 Tb. dried chopped chives

1 tsp. salt

1/2 teaspoon dried savory

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1 bay leaf.


          At least 3 hours before serving: Rinse beans with cold water.  Place in a5-quart Dutch oven over high heat; Cover with water. Heat beans to boiling; cook 3 minutes. Remove from heat; cover, and let stand 1 hour.  Drain and rinse beans.

          Return beans to Dutch oven. Add seasonings and 5 cups water.  Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 1 ½ -2 hours or until beans are tender, stirring occasionally.

          Add one 14½ - 16 oz. can stewed tomatoes with its liquid.  Over high heat, heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; cook uncovered 15 minutes longer; stirring to break up tomatoes.  Discard bay leaf before serving.  Each 1 cup serving  equals 160 calories and 0 cholesterol.


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