18 Best Foods to Ease Your Cough & Cold+7 Recipes

by Ella

Dealing with a cold and cough can leave you feeling miserable and rundown. The discomfort of a sore throat, congestion, and constant coughing can make even the simplest tasks feel challenging. While there’s no instant cure for the common cold, the foods and beverages you consume can play a significant role in alleviating symptoms, boosting your immune system, and promoting a speedier recovery. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore a wide range of options for what to eat and drink when you have a cold and cough, focusing on their potential benefits and how they can contribute to your overall well-being.

What are the types of cough?

1. Dry Cough (Non-Productive Cough): This type of cough produces little to no mucus or phlegm. It often feels like a tickling or irritation in the throat, and the coughing is unproductive, meaning it doesn’t bring up any mucus. Dry coughs can be caused by various factors, including viral infections, allergies, and irritants.


2. Wet Cough (Productive Cough): A wet cough is characterized by the presence of mucus or phlegm being coughed up from the respiratory tract. It’s often associated with respiratory infections, such as colds, flu, bronchitis, and pneumonia. The purpose of a wet cough is to clear the airways of excess mucus.


Foods to Eat When You Have a Cold And Cough

1. Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes are high in vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that supports immune function. Vitamin C can also help reduce the duration and severity of cold symptoms.


See Also: Grapefruit: Varieties, Nutritional Facts, Benefits, selecting & Storage


2. Berries

Berries, such as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, are rich in antioxidants and vitamins that can bolster your immune system. They also provide fiber, which supports digestion.

See Also: Blueberry: Nutritional Facts, 10 Benefits, Selection & Storage

3. Leafy Greens

Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and Swiss chard are packed with vitamins A and C, as well as other essential nutrients. These greens can enhance your immune response and provide necessary nutrients for overall health.

4. Garlic and Onions

Garlic and onions contain compounds with potential antimicrobial properties. Incorporating them into your meals can not only add flavor but also provide potential benefits for fighting off infections.

5. Lean Proteins

Lean sources of protein, such as poultry, fish, beans, and lentils, can provide amino acids necessary for immune function and tissue repair. Including protein in your diet can also help maintain energy levels.

6. Yogurt and Fermented Foods

Probiotics found in yogurt and fermented foods like kefir and sauerkraut can support gut health and indirectly boost immune function. A healthy gut microbiome is linked to overall well-being and immune response.

See Also: Make Yogurt at Home With Just 2 Ingredients

7. Oatmeal

A warm bowl of oatmeal can be easy on the throat and provide energy through complex carbohydrates. You can add fruits and a touch of honey for flavor and added nutrients.

See Also: Does Oatmeal Cause or Relieve Constipation? Revealed!

8. Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are a soft and easily digestible option that can provide comfort and energy. Opt for plain or lightly seasoned versions to avoid exacerbating throat irritation.

9. Ginger

Ginger has anti-inflammatory and soothing properties. You can use fresh ginger in teas or add it to soups and stir-fries.

See Also: Ginger: Health Benefits (Diabetes+High Blood Pressure)

10. Turmeric

Known for its anti-inflammatory effects, turmeric can be added to dishes or made into a warm turmeric milk.

11. Soft Fruits

Fruits like bananas and applesauce are easy on the throat and provide vitamins and natural sugars for energy.

See Also: What Happens to Your Body If You Eat Bananas Every Day

What to Drink When You Have a Cold And Cough

12. Warm Herbal Teas

Herbal teas, such as chamomile, ginger, and peppermint, offer a soothing effect on a sore throat. Chamomile’s anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce irritation, while ginger can aid digestion and provide potential relief from nausea. Peppermint tea may ease congestion due to its natural decongestant properties.

13. Honey and Lemon Water

Combining warm water with a drizzle of honey and a squeeze of lemon can create a comforting and soothing beverage. Honey has antimicrobial properties that can help soothe a sore throat, while lemon provides vitamin C and adds a pleasant flavor.

See Also: The Benefits of Lemon Water: What’s True & What’s Hype?

14. Broths and Clear Soups

Chicken broth or vegetable-based clear soups can provide essential fluids and electrolytes. Warm broths can also help soothe a scratchy throat and provide easily digestible nutrients.

See Also: 5 Health Benefits of Bone Broth & How to Make It

15. Coconut Water

Coconut water is a natural source of electrolytes and hydration. It can be a refreshing alternative to plain water and provide essential minerals to support your recovery.

16. Chicken Soup

Chicken soup has been a go-to remedy for colds for generations. Its warmth, hydration, and potential anti-inflammatory properties can offer relief from symptoms and promote recovery.

See Also: Chinese Chicken Herbal Soup Homemade Recipe – Easy & Authentic!

Foods to Avoid

1. Dairy Products

Dairy products, especially full-fat ones, can increase mucus production and exacerbate congestion. If you find that dairy worsens your symptoms, consider opting for dairy-free alternatives like almond milk or coconut yogurt.

2. Sugary and Processed Foods

Excessive sugar consumption can weaken the immune system and promote inflammation. Processed foods, high in sodium and unhealthy fats, can also hinder your body’s ability to heal.

3. Caffeine and Alcohol

Caffeinated beverages and alcohol can contribute to dehydration, which is counterproductive when you’re trying to recover. It’s best to minimize or avoid these drinks until you’re feeling better.

4. Fried and Fatty Foods

These can promote inflammation and may make you feel more sluggish.

Comforting Food Recipes to Soothe Cough and Cold Symptoms

1. Chicken and Vegetable Soup:

Warm and nourishing, this classic chicken soup is packed with nutrients to help ease congestion and provide comfort.


1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste


1. In a pot, bring chicken broth to a simmer.

2. Add chicken breast, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper.

3. Simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

4. Remove the chicken, shred it, and return it to the pot.

5. Adjust seasoning as needed and serve warm.

2. Ginger Lemon Honey Tea:

This soothing tea combines the power of ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties with the soothing effects of honey and lemon.


1-inch fresh ginger root, sliced
1 tablespoon honey
Juice of half a lemon
2 cups hot water


1. Place ginger slices in a cup.

2. Pour hot water over the ginger and let it steep for about 5 minutes.

3. Remove ginger slices and stir in honey and lemon juice.

4. Sip the tea while it’s still warm.

3. Creamy Oatmeal with Apples:

Warm oatmeal is easy on the throat and provides energy to keep you going through your recovery.


1 cup old-fashioned oats
2 cups water or milk
1 apple, peeled, cored, and diced
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup


1. In a pot, bring water or milk to a boil.

2. Stir in oats and diced apple.

3. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Remove from heat, stir in cinnamon, and sweeten with honey or maple syrup.

4. Turmeric and Honey Warm Milk:

Turmeric’s anti-inflammatory properties combined with warm milk and honey create a soothing drink that can alleviate discomfort.


1 cup milk (dairy or plant-based)
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon honey


1. In a small saucepan, heat the milk over medium heat.

2. Stir in ground turmeric and let it simmer for a few minutes.

3. Remove from heat and stir in honey.

4. Pour into a mug and enjoy while warm.

5. Vegetable and Lentil Stew:

Packed with fiber and nutrients, this hearty stew can provide nourishment and help boost your immune system.


1 cup dried green or brown lentils, rinsed and drained
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup diced tomatoes (canned or fresh)
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced potatoes
1 cup chopped spinach or kale
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper to taste


1. In a large pot, combine lentils, vegetable broth, tomatoes, carrots, celery, and potatoes.

2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let it simmer for about 20-25 minutes or until lentils are tender.

3. Stir in chopped spinach or kale, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper.

4. Simmer for an additional 5 minutes before serving.

6. Honey-Lemon Throat Soother:

This simple remedy combines honey and lemon for a soothing and immune-boosting concoction.


1 tablespoon honey
Juice of half a lemon
Warm water


1. Mix honey and lemon juice in a cup.

2. Add warm water and stir until well combined.

3. Sip slowly to soothe a sore throat.

7. Banana and Yogurt Smoothie:

This easy-to-digest smoothie provides essential nutrients and hydration, perfect for when your appetite is reduced.


1 ripe banana
1/2 cup plain yogurt (dairy or plant-based)
1/2 cup water or almond milk
1 tablespoon honey
A pinch of cinnamon (optional)


1. Blend banana, yogurt, water or almond milk, and honey until smooth.

2. Pour into a glass and sprinkle with a pinch of cinnamon if desired.

Supplements and Immune-Boosting Foods

While it’s ideal to obtain nutrients from whole foods, there are certain supplements and immune-boosting foods that can provide additional support during illness:

1. Vitamin C Supplements

If you’re unable to consume enough vitamin C-rich foods, a vitamin C supplement can help fill the gap. Consult with a healthcare professional before adding supplements to your regimen.

2. Zinc-Rich Foods

Zinc is known for its immune-boosting properties. Foods like lean meats, nuts, seeds, and whole grains contain zinc and can aid in your recovery.

3. Probiotics Supplements

If you’re not a fan of fermented foods, you can consider taking a probiotics supplement to support gut health and immune function.

Tailoring Your Diet to Your Symptoms

It’s important to note that everyone’s experience with a cold and cough is unique. Depending on your symptoms, you may need to adjust your diet accordingly:

1. Sore Throat

If you have a sore throat, focus on foods and beverages that are easy to swallow and won’t irrit

ate your throat further. Opt for soft foods, warm liquids, and soothing teas.

2. Congestion

If congestion is a primary concern, spicy foods like chili peppers can help clear nasal passages. Additionally, consuming warm liquids and broths can help loosen mucus.

3. Lack of Appetite

If you’re not feeling hungry, opt for small, frequent meals that are nutrient-dense. Smoothies or soups can be an easy way to nourish your body without overwhelming your appetite.

4. Hydration

Regardless of your symptoms, staying hydrated is crucial. Keep sipping on water, herbal teas, and hydrating foods like watermelon and cucumber.

Non-Food Remedies to Ease Cough and Cold Symptoms

1. Stay Hydrated:

Drinking plenty of fluids is essential when you’re battling a cold and cough. Hydration helps thin mucus, making it easier to clear from your airways. Water, herbal teas, and clear broths are excellent choices to keep your body hydrated and support your immune system’s efforts.

2. Steam Inhalation:

Inhaling steam can provide relief from congestion and ease breathing difficulties. Boil water, transfer it to a bowl, and place a towel over your head as you lean over the bowl. Inhale the steam for about 10-15 minutes. You can enhance the effect by adding a few drops of essential oils like eucalyptus or peppermint to the water.

3. Saltwater Gargle:

Gargling with warm saltwater can soothe a sore throat and help reduce inflammation. Mix about half a teaspoon of salt in a glass of warm water and gargle several times a day.

4. Humidifier:

Using a humidifier in your room can add moisture to the air, which can help alleviate dry throat and nasal passages. Moist air can also make it easier to breathe, especially during the night.

5. Nasal Saline Rinse:

A nasal saline rinse can help clear out mucus and irritants from your nasal passages. You can use a saline nasal spray or a neti pot for this purpose, but make sure to use distilled or sterile water to avoid the risk of infection.

6. Rest:

One of the most effective remedies for a cold and cough is simply getting adequate rest. Your body needs extra energy to fight off the infection, so make sure to give yourself the time to recover.

7. Hot Shower:

Taking a hot shower can help relax your muscles, open up your airways, and provide temporary relief from congestion.

8. Avoid Irritants:

Irritants such as tobacco smoke, pollution, and strong odors can worsen your symptoms. Avoid exposure to these irritants to prevent further irritation to your respiratory system.

9. Stay Elevated While Sleeping:

If your cough is worse at night, try sleeping with an extra pillow or propping up the head of your bed. This can help reduce nighttime coughing and ease breathing.

Final Thoughts

When you’re dealing with a cold and cough, taking care of your body through proper nutrition and hydration can make a notable difference in how you feel and how quickly you recover. Incorporating a variety of nutrient-dense foods, soothing beverages, and immune-boosting ingredients can provide your body with the resources it needs to combat the infection and alleviate discomfort. Remember that everyone’s needs and preferences are different, so it’s essential to listen to your body and adjust your diet based on your symptoms and overall well-being.

However, if your symptoms are severe, persistent, or accompanied by high fever, it’s important to seek medical attention. A healthcare professional can provide proper guidance and ensure that you receive the appropriate treatment. In the end, combining a balanced diet, hydration, rest, and medical care can help you overcome the challenges of a cold and cough more effectively, so you can get back to feeling your best.



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