Can Eating More Fruits and Vegetables Prevent Colds?

Photo by: Flickr
Photo by: Flickr

Does eating more fruits and vegetables reduce the duration of a cold? According to a new study from Germany, the vitamins and antioxidants in fruits and vegetables may shorten cold duration – and make the “sniffles and sneezes” a little easier to deal with.

Eating More Fruits and Vegetables: Does It Shorten Cold Duration?

German researchers gave 263 people, mostly women, either supplements of a fruit and vegetable concentrate, or a placebo each day for eight months. At the same time, they closely followed them for any signs and symptoms of a cold.

What did they find? The group who took the daily fruit and vegetable concentrate didn’t experience fewer colds, but when they did develop cold symptoms, the duration of the symptoms was reduced by about twenty-percent – allowing the participants to get back to work a little faster.

Eating More Fruits and Vegetables vs. Fruit and Vegetable Supplements

In this study, the participants used a fruit and vegetable concentrate called Juice Plus, which contained a variety of fruits and vegetables in very concentrated form. Chances are you’d have to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables to have the same benefits as this veggie and fruit-rich supplement.

Why Would a Fruit and Vegetable Concentrate Shorten Cold Duration?

Could it be vitamin C in the fruit and vegetable concentrate working its magic on the common cold? Despite what Linus Pauling believed, there’s little evidence that vitamin C prevents or shortens the duration of a cold when it’s used as a stand-alone supplement.

On the other hand, when vitamin C interacts with the other antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables, the benefits may be greater. Some of the natural compounds found in fruits and vegetables help the immune system function better, which could play a role in limiting the duration of a cold.

Eating More Fruits and Vegetables for Cold Symptoms: The Bottom Line?

This study was done on a small population of mostly women, so it’s hard to draw any solid conclusions. Whether eating more fruits and vegetables or taking a fruit and veggie supplement can alter the course of the common cold remains to be seen.

On the other hand, fruits and vegetables help the immune system function better – and all of those vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber have health benefits regardless of their impact on the cold virus. So if you want to stay healthy, eat more antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables.