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Soup and Salad for Cold and Flu?

  • Category: Fitness, Health, Nutrition
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Deborah McPherson MS,RD, LD, CDE and Mia Gibson RDN, LD, CDE
Soup and Salad for Cold and Flu?

As Seen in the Odessa American Medical Matters

We may have all heard that chicken soup is good for what ails you, but can it actually cure a cold?

The answer is, of course, no. However, it has been proven to help relieve congestion, act as an anti-inflammatory and prevent dehydration … which may come in handy when you have a cold or flu.

How can salad help?

A salad, especially a dark green leafy salad with spinach, contains beta-carotene and vitamin C that both enhance immunity … which might help prevent us from getting sick in the first place. Add some grilled salmon to the salad, which contains omega-3 fatty acids, for additional anti-inflammatory properties.

A healthy diet, getting enough exercise and rest … and keeping stress levels down … may be our best defense against cold and flu this season. A well-nourished body may more easily ward off infections. Other nutrients that may help increase our immunity are:

  • B-6 in fortified cereals, poultry, seafood and a variety of fruits and vegetables
  • Vitamin E in nuts, protein in dairy, meat, poultry, fish, beans and peas
  • Selenium and zinc in seafood and beef

So why can’t we just take a vitamin or herbal supplements instead of eating these foods?

Whole foods offer several benefits over dietary supplements. Whole foods provide more than one nutrient, dietary fiber and other protective substances such as phytochemicals and antioxidants that may also help protect us against disease.

Before taking dietary supplements, other than those prescribed by your doctor, remember that dietary supplements don’t undergo the same testing and quality control that prescription medications do. Just because the bottle says “all natural” does not mean that it will not interact with your current medications or cause side effects. Use caution and remember that supplements such as Echinacea and Ginseng, when taken longer than a few weeks, may actually lower immunity.

Some people may benefit from supplements, but ask your doctor before jumping on the supplement band wagon.

Dietary guidelines do recommend doctor-prescribed supplements or fortified foods during pregnancy and for adults over 50. In addition, we might need supplementation if we have a medical condition or surgery that leads to a deficiency in certain nutrients, consume less than 1,600 calories daily or follow a special diet (vegan or vegetarian) that may limit the variety of foods consumed.

Just remember:

  • Too much of a good thing (vitamins, herbs) may not be good.
  • Too many of those “candy-gummy” vitamins could be toxic.
  • Eat whole foods first and discuss dietary supplements and vitamins with your doctor.

Consult your doctor before making changes in your diet. If you have a medical condition, certain items may need to be reduced or eliminated. Seek the advice of your physician and Registered Dietitian before making any changes in your diet or lifestyle.

NUTRITION TIP OF THE DAY: Hot drinks with lemon or lime may help relieve sore throat or cough symptoms. And try spicy, hot soups to help clear nasal passages and possibly help an inflamed throat.

(Sources: Mayo Clinic, Nutrition Action, CSPI, JADA,, Web MD and MCHS Dietitians)


Serves Eight


  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 (4-5 oz.) can chopped green chilies
  • ½ tsp. black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can beef broth
  • 2 Tbs. water
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 (14.5 oz.) can no salt stewed tomatoes
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 ½ c. water
  • 8-10 corn tortillas, cut in strips (bake in oven to crisp)
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can fat free reduced sodium
  • 1 c. diced cooked chicken breast
  • chicken broth
  • 1 c. fat-free or low fat shredded cheese
  • 1 (13.5 oz) can tomato juice


In large soup pan, soften onion, chilies and garlic in 2 Tbs. water. Add liquids, tomatoes and seasonings. Bring to a boil and simmer one hour, covered. During last ten minutes, add chicken. Top with cheese and tortilla strips before serving. Add one or two slices of avocado before serving, if desired.


  • Calories – 130
  • Carbohydrate – 24 gms
  • Protein – 8 gms
  • Fat – 0.5 gm
  • Saturated Fat – trace
  • Percent calories from fat – 3 percent
  • Sodium (w/o cheese) – 650 mg