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Cold season is upon us, bringing its runny noses, congested chests, achy bodies, and too-tired feelings with it. Your best defense? Try to prevent yourself from catching a cold by washing your hands frequently, getting enough rest, drinking lots of fluids, and staying active. But when you catch a cold, you need more immediate relief. That's where these snacks come in. Each of them is packed with cold-fighting vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that may help make your cold less severe. Read on for our six feel-better snack picks:Vegetarian Chili
A spicy veggie chili made with onions, garlic, kidney beans, and tomato paste not only warms up a cold-afflicted body, it may also have medicinal properties! Onions and garlic have antiviral effects, beans have good-for-the-immune-system B vitamins, and the spices can actually help clear sinuses!
Recommended serving size: 1 cup canned vegetarian chili
Despite all the controversy surrounding Vitamin C's effect on colds, recent research shows that while this powerhouse antioxidant can't prevent them, it can help cut down on the duration and severity of colds. Clementines are a great source of Vitamin C -- two fulfill 100 percent of your RDA. What's more, clementines are easy to pack and eat (no sticky fingers, since their skins peel off effortlessly).
Recommended serving size: 2 clementines
Another mineral that can help stop a cold: Zinc. It plays a big role in immune system functioning, and has been shown to stop the growth of microorganisms in the body, including some bacteria and viruses (and a virus is what causes colds). Both roast beef and whole-grain bread are great sources of zinc; put them together, and you've got a powerful cold-fighting snack.
Recommended serving size: 2 ounces lean roast beef on 1 slice whole wheat bread
Calories: about 210
Believe it or not, your grandmother was right: Chicken soup is the perfect snack when you've got a cold! Not only is the warm broth comforting and soothing (essential when you're feeling run down and uncomfortable), research at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha showed that chicken soup helps control the production and spread of inflammation and congestion-causing neutrophils (white blood cells). A cup of this soup gives you the perfect "dose."
Recommended serving size: 1 cup
Calories: about 190
Packed with glutamine, an amino acid that helps step up your immune system's efficiency, tuna is a great pick when you're sick. Research at the University of Oxford showed that athletes who ingested glutamine after workouts were less likely to get an upper respiratory infection than those who didn't; for regular folk, glutamine could have the same beneficial effects. Mix your tuna with a tablespoon of low-fat mayonnaise and serve it on 6 whole-grain crackers for a healthy mini meal.
Recommended serving size: 1 6-ounce can of tuna packed in water with 1 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise and 6 whole-grain crackers
Ginger helps relieve congestion and has a soothing, spicy taste. To make a throat-calming, congestion-busting tea, steep chopped raw ginger in boiling water for about 10 minutes. Make your teatime a little sweeter by adding a teaspoon of honey to the brew and two crunchy gingersnap cookies on the side.
Recommended serving size: 1 cup of tea with 1 teaspoon honey and 2 gingersnaps
Calories: about 85
Originally published on FitnessMagazine.com, January 2006.