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What foods are good for COVID recovery?

Recovering from COVID-19 can be a long and difficult process. While rest and medication are important, nutrition also plays a key role in helping your body heal. Eating the right foods can provide energy, strengthen your immune system, and speed up recovery time. Here are some of the top foods to focus on adding to your diet during COVID recovery.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables should be the foundation of any healthy recovery diet. They provide vitamins, minerals, fiber, and plant compounds that fight inflammation and support immune function. Some great options include:

  • Citrus fruits – High in vitamin C, which supports immunity and tissue repair. Oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, etc.
  • Berries – Packed with antioxidants to fight inflammation. Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, etc.
  • Cruciferous vegetables – Contain compounds that boost immunity. Broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts.
  • Leafy greens – Excellent source of nutrients. Spinach, swiss chard, romaine, arugula, kale.

Aim for a rainbow of fruits and veggies daily while recovering from COVID. Eat them whole or blended into smoothies.

Lean Protein

Protein provides the body with amino acids that are vital for repairing tissue, fighting infection, and recovering from illness. Great protein choices include:

  • Eggs
  • Skinless poultry (chicken, turkey)
  • Fish and seafood (salmon, tuna, shrimp)
  • Legumes (beans, lentils, peas)
  • Nuts and nut butters
  • Seeds (hemp, chia, flax)
  • Non-fat dairy (Greek yogurt, milk)

Aim for a few servings of lean protein throughout the day. Protein is essential for building and maintaining muscle during recovery.

Whole Grains

Whole grains provide important nutrients like B vitamins, iron, selenium, and fiber. They also give the body steady energy. Some nutritious whole grains to include in your diet are:

  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice
  • Barley
  • Whole grain pasta
  • Whole wheat bread

Enjoy whole grains like oatmeal, quinoa, or brown rice bowl meals. Whole grains support a healthy gut microbiome.

Healthy Fats

Certain fats provide powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that can aid COVID recovery. The best sources are:

  • Olive oil
  • Avocados
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fatty fish (salmon, mackerel)

Include healthy fats with meals and snacks. They help absorb fat-soluble vitamins and support the immune system.

Bone Broth

Bone broth is rich in amino acids, minerals, and compounds that reduce inflammation. It has been used for centuries to help recovery. Bone broth supports immune function, gut health, and injury healing.

Drink 1-2 cups of bone broth per day while recovering from COVID. Make your own at home by simmering bones with vegetables for 8+ hours.

Herbal Teas

Certain herbal teas contain active plant compounds that can support recovery. Some examples include:

  • Green tea – Rich in antioxidants called catechins that reduce inflammation.
  • Ginger tea – Contains gingerol that decreases inflammation and eases respiratory symptoms.
  • Peppermint tea – Helps soothe digestive issues and supports a healthy gut.

Drink 2-3 cups per day of anti-inflammatory herbal teas. They provide hydration and nutrients as well.

How Foods Aid COVID Recovery

Nutrition supports COVID recovery in several key ways:

  • Provides energy – The right balance of carbs, protein and fat gives the body fuel to heal.
  • Boosts immunity – Many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants strengthen the immune system to fight infection.
  • Reduces inflammation – Omega-3 fats, veggies, herbs and spices decrease widespread inflammation.
  • Supports gut health – Prebiotic foods feed beneficial gut bacteria involved in immunity.
  • Enhances tissue repair – Protein provides amino acids to rebuild damaged muscle, organs and other tissues.

Overall, optimizing nutrition helps counteract the substantial stress COVID-19 places on the body and speeds the recovery process.

Sample Meal Plan

Here is a sample one day meal plan focusing on top recovery foods:

Meal Foods
Breakfast Oatmeal topped with berries and almonds
Snack Green smoothie with kale, banana, ginger and protein powder
Lunch Lentil soup with whole grain bread
Snack Greek yogurt with mixed nuts and chia seeds
Dinner Salmon over quinoa with steamed broccoli
Beverages Bone broth, herbal tea, water

Foods to Avoid

While recovering, it’s also important to limit or avoid foods that may impair healing:

  • Added sugars – Weaken immune function.
  • Refined carbs – Provide empty calories without nutrients.
  • Processed foods – High in inflammatory compounds.
  • Excess alcohol – Stresses the liver and immune system.
  • Fried foods – Contain trans fats that promote inflammation.

Focus on whole, nourishing foods as the foundation of your recovery diet. Limit added sugars, unhealthy fats and excess salt.

Nutrition for Post-COVID Complications

Those recovering from more severe COVID illness or post-COVID complications may need to tailor their nutrition even further. Here are some conditions and food suggestions:


Prioritize iron-rich foods, B vitamins, magnesium, healthy fats and protein.

Respiratory problems

Eat antioxidant and anti-inflammatory foods like berries, fatty fish, onions, garlic.

Brain fog and headaches

Choose salmon, avocados, nuts, seeds, berries, dark chocolate, and plenty of water.

Gastrointestinal issues

Eat prebiotic and gut-soothing foods. Bone broth, yogurt, oats, flaxseed.

Muscle weakness

Boost protein intake and consume nutrient-dense calories. Eggs, yogurt, nuts, quinoa, fish.

Work with a doctor or dietitian to target your post-COVID health concerns through nutrition.

The Importance of Hydration

Staying hydrated is also key during recovery. Aim to drink at least 6-8 glasses of fluids per day. Water, herbal tea, broth, diluted fruit juice and coconut water are great choices. Proper hydration supports healing by:

  • Transporting nutrients
  • Removing waste and toxins
  • Lubricating tissues
  • Regulating body temperature
  • Carrying oxygen

Dehydration can exacerbate fatigue, headaches, gastrointestinal issues and other symptoms. Drink plenty of liquids, especially with meals and exercise.

The Role of Dietary Supplements

Certain vitamins, minerals and other supplements can provide additional support when recovering from COVID-19. Some of the top options to consider are:

  • Vitamin D – Essential for immune regulation.
  • Vitamin C – Boosts immune cell function and acts as an antioxidant.
  • Zinc – Supports immune response and tissue healing.
  • Probiotics – Help restore healthy gut bacteria.
  • Omega-3s – Powerful anti-inflammatory effects.
  • Melatonin – Improves sleep quality.

Talk to your doctor before taking supplements, especially at high doses. Certain ones can interact with medications.

The Bottom Line

Recovery from COVID-19 demands a great deal of energy and resources from your body. Optimizing your diet helps supply the tools your body needs to heal. Focus on whole foods that provide a wide range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds and other beneficial nutrients. Hydration, sleep, stress management and physical activity are also key pieces of the recovery process. Work closely with your healthcare provider to determine the diet and lifestyle strategies that work for your situation.