It's that time of year again – present shopping, ice skating, and the flu. As you prepare for the holiday season, you'll want to do everything you can to stay healthy and keep away colds and the flu.
One way you can fight off illness, and make yourself feel better if you're sick, is by eating foods that can help boost your immune system.
"We're learning more and more about food as medicine, and the effects that food can have on our bodies, and keeping us healthy," said ABC News' senior medical contributor Dr. Jennifer Ashton. "Foods that are super healthy can do wonders for keeping you healthy."
Check out these tasty recipes that serve up flu-fighting superfoods packed with vitamins, antioxidants, and everything you need to stay healthy in the winter months.
Broccoli is rich in vitamin C, which acts as a cell-protecting antioxidant and immune booster. Because of the nutrients, the leafy vegetable may help prevent the onset of cold and flu.
"Vitamin C is so important, and fruits and veggies full of it are good to eat when you're healthy in order to keep you that way," said Keith Ayoob, director of the Nutrition Clinic at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.
Broccolli might not be the top of your list of things you want to eat when you're sick, but eating it when you're healthy can help keep you that way. We have some delicious recipes that will make you want to eat all the broccoli you need to fight the cold and flu.
These magical foods keeps the fat low and the protein high. While each type of bean has its own unique nutritional benefits, most legumes are high in antioxidants, with anti-aging and disease-fighting properties.
"Legumes are one of the most underutilized foods in our diet. They're loaded with vitamin C, iron and fiber," said Ayoob. "There's no downside to beans. They're easy to prepare. Just eat them!"
These recipes are especially easy when it comes to preparing dishes for holiday season potlucks.
Green tea leaves are rich polyphenols, an antioxidant that help to boost immune function. The leaves also have been associated with decreasing risk of cancer, obesity and heart disease.
Drinking tea is also a good way to get all the liquids you need to stay healthy.
"Drink, drink, drink," said Ayoob. "It's the best thing you can do for yourself, other than sleep, when you're sick. Tea makes water taste better, and green and black teas are some seriously potent antioxidants."
Blueberries have become food megastars for their rich antioxidants and disease-fighting features. Studies show that eating blueberries also improves cognitive function and reduces the risk of heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.
"For fighting a cold, vitamin C is a good bet. And that goes beyond orange juice," Dr. Ayoob says. "Any kinds of berries are loaded with antioxidants that can minimize symptoms of a cold."
Winter is also a good time of year for putting your favorite berries into warm baked treats or mixing them together in a super-healthy smoothie.
Salmon acts as a natural flu-fighter because it has copious amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which boost immune system function. Along with the healthy fats, salmon also is one of the highest natural sources of vitamin D, which helps to regulate calcium in the body.
"Salmon is one of the top superfoods on my list," Ashton said. "It's full of vitamin D, which is important in the winter months, because you're seeing a lot less sun with such shorter days."
Pumpkin and other squashes are pretty easy to get your hands on in the winter months, and the different varieties are full of the nutrients and vitamins that can keep you healthy through the long winter months.
Plus, these delicious recipes taste like fall.
The medical world has long known that low-fat yogurt has an array of health benefits. Fermented dairy products contain "probiotics," bacteria that help the body fight off infections, including cold and flu. The calcium-rich snack also reduces digestive tract problems, vaginal infections and stomach ulcers, and it encourages bone growth.
Yogurt can be used in a ton of different foods – from smoothies, to frozen desserts, to a topping for your favorite snacks.
Both Ashton and Ayoob agree – eating chicken soup is one of the best ways to fight winter colds and flus.
"Chicken soup works! In perhaps one of the best studied examples of food as medicine, chicken soup has been studied in the lab, and found to help people suffering from the common cold by two proposed mechanisms," said Dr. Ashton. "First, it slows down a type of white blood cell that is activated in fighting infections and thought to be responsible for part of the awful feeling we get when we have a cold. It also increases the movement of nasal mucus, helping to clear congestion."
While chicken soup won't cure the flu, it can definitely make you feel better. Tests show it comes out the winner every time, Ayoob said.
"It doesn't need to be fancy," he added. "Just through in beans, peppers, veggies, chicken and broth – everything you should eat anyways to make you feel better."