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In the doldrums of winter, these foods will help keep you healthy

Tuesday - 1/8/2013, 8:15am  ET

Kristi King, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - There may be something to the old cliché about grandmothers dosing children with cod liver oil: The stuff is packed with vitamin D, which is shown to help kids avoid colds.

In fact, there are a number of foods that can help fight winter ailments.

Mushrooms are packed with antioxidants, along with potassium, B vitamins, and fiber.

Vitamin A is important to immune system function. Find healthy amounts in carrots and sweet potatoes, or any red-orange veggie containing beta-carotene.

Oysters are an excellent source of zinc, which helps fight colds, as well as selenium, which helps immune systems fight infections.

Other foods recommended in studies detailed by Yahoo Health include oily fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel, which are rich in omega 3 fatty acids and helpful to immune system health.

Anise seeds can help clear congestion, and calm coughs, reports Yahoo Health. Anise also is shown to have antibacterial properties. Similar to anise is fennel, that also has a black liquorish flavor but is an entirely different plant. Fennel acts as a natural expectorant.

Bitter greens, such as arugula and any kind of tea, are also helpful for clearing chest congestion.

To lower risk of upper respiratory tract infections, there's evidence that oats, yogurt and other probiotic foods can help.

Sunflower seeds are a good source of vitamin E, which is shown to be good for lung function.

Back to vitamin D, which is so helpful for immune system health, other good food sources are fish, eggs, fortified cereal and dairy products.

And don't forget sunshine prompts bodies to produce vitamin D naturally. Knowing that might make grandmothers push people to go take a walk and get outside.

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