The cold and flu seem to go hand-in-hand with the winter months. That’s is why it’s important to strengthen your immune system as the temperature starts to drop. One of the best ways to do this is the food you eat.

Rather than going for unhealthy options this winter, we suggest opting for foods that are packed with immune-boosting nutrients. Trust us, your body will thank you. Here are five foods that will naturally strengthen your immune system this winter.

1. Citrus

As you probably know, citrus fruits are packed with Vitamin C — an essential nutrient for bolstering your immune system and fighting off infection. In fact, we often crave fruits (and veggies) that contain Vitamin C when we’re under the weather. Next time you’re at the grocery store, be sure to stock up on some oranges, grapefruit or clementines to help prepare your immune system for the winter months.

2. Ginger

There is good reason to opt for the gingerbread cookies this holiday season (in moderation of course!). Because ginger is a diaphoretic, it has the power to keep you warm as your body works to fend off your cold or flu. It also helps with inflammation and nausea. We recommend adding a little ginger to your tea or as a spice to a savory or sweet dish.

3. Chicken

Chicken soup isn’t just good for the soul, it’s also high in Vitamin B-6. This helps promote the growth of red blood cells — your body’s oxygen transport system. Even better, chicken broth strengthens your immune system with nutrients like gelatin and chondroitin. Don’t hesitate to fill up that bowl with chicken noodle soup as you let the nutrients bring you back to health.

4. Spinach

Like citrus, spinach is packed with Vitamin C. It is also rich in beta-carotene which increases our immune system’s ability to fend off infection. Want to really amp up your Vitamin C intake? Throw some clementines on a bed of spinach for a Vitamin C power salad.

5. Almonds

When it comes to foods that build up your natural defense before you get sick, almonds are your best friend. They are rich in Vitamin E — an antioxidant that helps protect your cells against free radicals. They also give you a natural energy boost. If you’re looking for a great source of protein with added immune-boosting powers, look no further than almonds.

Do you have any other favorite healthy winter foods? Be sure to comment below!