With kids on the loose or unhealthy work colleagues coughing in your general direction, there’s always a cold lurking around the corner. Unsurprisingly, the common cold is the most frequent viral affliction in humans. Even healthy adults can expect to succumb to it two to three times a year.
Tomato tea for colds and congestion
Tomato tea is the hottest new craze in the cold and flu world. Rather than turning to the classic combo of lemon and honey tea (perhaps with a bit of ginger thrown in for good measure), the who’s who of the health world are now employing the many benefits of the humble tomato to give their nasal virus the boot.
Tomato tea can come in many shapes or forms. The basic variety is essentially just hot tomato water, with the fresh tomatoes pulped to smithereens in a blender then strained and the juice mixed with hot water. Pretty simple, right?
But to really get the most anti-viral bang for your buck, you’ll want to add a whole lot more ingredients. You’ll want ingredients that are strong decongestant and anti-viral compounds in their own right, like garlic and chilies, and which make the tea a whole lot tastier, like lemon juice. Here’s a tried-and-true tomato tea recipe that’ll have your cold or congestion running for the hills.
- 2 medium tomatoes
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne powder (or 1-2 drops hot sauce)
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- Throw your tomatoes in the blender and blitz until finely pulped.
- Crush garlic cloves with either the flat of a knife or a garlic crusher. Squeeze out your 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
- Add the ingredients, along with the cayenne pepper to a saucepan.
- Simmer the ingredients over medium heat until the mixture is close to boiling.
- Remove from heat, transfer to a cup, and sip slowly once it’s cooled.
To improve the flavor and nutrient loading, you might want to add some Himalayan pink salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. To really get the most from your tomato tea, be sure to slowly sip the brew and regularly breath in the vapors coming off it through your nose (if possible) to help speed the decongestion process. I’ve also found that adding some fresh basil leaves can really make this a tasty drink, kind of like a liquid pizza! Play around with flavors and have some fun.
Tomato tea benefits
So what’s behind the claims that tomato tea is dynamite against colds and sinus issues? Plenty, as it happens. Here are some of the more notable health benefits to be found in your average cup of tomato tea.
Tomato tea is rich in antioxidants
Few people would argue that tomatoes are loaded with antioxidants. Much of their rich, vibrant red color is due to the antioxidants in the skin and flesh, particularly lycopene and vitamin C. Vitamin C has been shown time and again to be one of the most critical antioxidants in our bodies for supporting a healthy immune system. Lycopene also plays an important role in limiting oxidative damage within the body, which in turn can give your immune system a much-needed boost. And a healthier, feistier immune system means less chance of colds, and shorter cold duration if you’ve already got one.
It just so happens that the lemon juice in your tomato tea also contains amazingly high concentrations of vitamin C, so you’ll be getting a double antioxidant boost. Say goodbye, pesky virus!
Tomato tea contains garlic, a natural antimicrobial
Another great benefit of our tomato tea recipe is that it contains plenty of fresh garlic, which has remarkably strong antimicrobial and antiviral abilities. A 2001 study published in the Journal of Advances in Therapy used a garlic supplement over 12 weeks of winter to determine just how effective garlic is in fighting off the common cold. They found that the active treatment group (who took the garlic supplement) had significantly fewer colds (24) than the placebo group (65).
That’s a huge difference! Part of the efficacy of those supplements, however, is that they included the allicin component of the garlic. That’s the component you’ll also be getting in your tomato tea, as you’re using fresh, uncooked garlic. To really maximize the allicin content, consider adding in the garlic right at the end, just before drinking.
Tomato tea contains capsaicin, a decongestant
There’s a reason why people tell you to chow down on a spicy curry if you’re all gunked up — it’s one of the most effective ways to clear your sinuses and decongest! This is just another tomato tea benefit. It contains plenty of cayenne pepper, which has an ultra spicy kick that’ll have your nasal passages whistle-free in no-time. Capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne pepper, is also a strong anti-microbial agent and an antioxidant to boot.
— Liivi Hess