8 Foods to Help Soothe a Sore Throat
Try eating more of these foods during cold and flu season to help your throat feel better.
It's the season for runny noses, sore throats and all those uncomfortable symptoms that come with a cold, the flu or another viral illness. Be prepared when your next sore throat hits by stocking up on these eight foods that can help soothe that irritated throat.
"Whether I am coming down with a cold or just suffering from a strained voice, my go-to for a sore or scratchy throat is honey," says Dana Angelo White, M.S., RD, a registered dietitian, certified athletic trainer and author of Healthy One Pan Dinners. Research shows that honey is one natural remedy that can help soothe a sore throat. A 2017 study examined the effect of honey in 200 people with a sore throat. One group was given medication with honey, while a second group was given the same medication without honey. The study found that there was faster relief of signs and symptoms of sore throat in the group that included honey. How does Angelo White recommend taking honey? "A few teaspoons 'straight up' or melted into hot tea as a soothing remedy," she says.
2. Vegetable Broth
Vegetable broth is made from combining a variety of anti-inflammatory vegetables and herbs that could help with a sore throat. Ingredients include vegetables like onion, garlic, celery and carrots, as well as herbs and spices like parsley and thyme. Seattle-based registered dietitian Ginger Hultin, M.S., RD, who's a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, owner of Champagne Nutrition and author of Anti-Inflammatory Diet Meal Prep, explains how these veggies can help: "Studies have shown that onion has specific antimicrobial activity on bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus, a potential cause of sore throat. Studies on garlic have shown promise for potentially shortening the duration of the common cold because of its unique antimicrobial and antiviral properties." Plus, it's important to stay hydrated when you're under the weather, and sipping on broth or eating broth-based soups can help you get your fill of fluids. Be sure to sip it when it's warm, not super hot, because that could make a sore throat worse. Try this recipe for Super-Simple Vegetable Broth.
3. Scrambled Eggs
Sore throats require selecting foods that don't irritate it. In addition, when you are sick, including nutritious foods in your diet is important. Scrambled eggs are easy on the throat—they're soft, not crunchy or scratchy—and are loaded with many nutrients. Eggs deliver protein and vitamin D, two key nutrients for immune support. They also give you numerous B vitamins as well as iodine, selenium and choline. Make sure to eat the entire egg, including the yolk, to get the full array of nutrients. Try these healthy scrambled egg recipes.
4. Chicken Soup
The effectiveness of chicken soup has been touted by Jewish scholars and plenty of moms and grandmas for centuries. Chicken soup is usually made by simmering a variety of vegetables and chicken bones for a few hours. The long cooking time allows for minerals like zinc, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium to get into the liquid. The minerals from those vegetables—like onions, celery, carrots and maybe leeks, parsnips or turnips—all seep into the liquid as well. Certainly chicken soup can help you stay hydrated, and the warm liquid can help soothe a sore throat. And the benefits may go beyond that: A study from the University of Nebraska concluded that chicken soup may contain anti-inflammatory agents that could help alleviate a cold. Make Greek Lemon Chicken & Orzo Soup (pictured above) or try any of these Chicken Soup Recipes to Fight a Cold.
Turmeric has been used in India for many years as a medicinal herb, and it's growing in popularity now in the United States. What makes turmeric so special is its active compounds called curcuminoids, with curcumin being the primary curcuminoid. "Curcumin has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that have displayed possible health benefits in recent studies," explains Kathy Siegel, M.S., RDN, CDN, nutrition communication consultant at Triad to Wellness Consulting and author of The 30-Minute Clean Eating Cookbook. "Because of these active ingredients, turmeric may help alleviate the pain and swelling of a sore throat by inhibiting inflammation."
Curcumin has also has received a great deal of attention because of its antiviral and antibacterial properties. Siegel says, "Curcumin may possibly help fight against influenza virus, as well as strains of staphylococcus and streptococcus—the bacteria and viruses most commonly found with sore throats." Siegel recommends soothing your sore throat by enjoying turmeric tea, gargling with a solution of warm water, black pepper, salt and turmeric powder, or enjoying a trendy golden milk—turmeric powder, black pepper and honey steeped in boiling milk.
6. Chamomile Tea
Chamomile contains many natural plant compounds, specifically terpenoids and flavonoids that contribute to its medicinal properties. Chamomile has been found to have anti-spasmodic properties which may be effective to help reduce coughing that can lead to a sore throat. Enjoy a warm cup of chamomile tea; the warm liquid itself also helps soothe your throat. Try this Chamomile Health Tonic.
Ginger is known botanically as Zingiberaceae and is part of a family that has thousands of species of flowering plants. It's been used for centuries and loved for its bioactive compounds that are known to have medicinal benefits. "Ginger is a powerful antioxidant with a number of antimicrobial properties," explains Maya Feller M.S., RD, CDN, a nationally recognized nutrition expert and author of The Southern Comfort Food Diabetes Cookbook. Feller explains that sore throats can be a manifestation of systemic inflammation secondary to the common cold, seasonal flu or an infection. Gingerol, an active phytochemical component in ginger, works to quell acute inflammation and thus may help soothe a sore throat.
The potent spice can be enjoyed in many forms including powdered, dried, crystallized and fresh in its whole root form. Enjoy ginger in tea, sprinkle it over carrots, sweet potatoes or fruit salad, or add it to muffin or cookie batters.
This warming spice contains antimicrobial properties, especially antibacterial properties that may help combat sore throats. Enjoy cinnamon in a mulled apple cider, sprinkled on oatmeal or other breakfast favorites like pancakes and French toast, or added to cookie, muffin or cake batters.