Yep, Ice Cream Is One Of The Best Foods To Eat When You Have A Sore Throat

Tiramisu ice cream. Ice cream with coffee, chocolate, sponge cake pieces
The Best Foods To Soothe A Sore Throat Bartosz Luczak - Getty Images

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Ugh, is there anything worse than feeling like a million pin pricks are attacking your throat? Even though it hurts to swallow, much less get any food down your gullet, fueling up when you’re sick is vital, according to doctors and medical experts. Ahead, they share their best recommendations on what to eat and drink with a sore throat, as well as what to avoid when that area is tender.

FYI: The old adage, "feed a cold" is also excellent advice for a sore throat. Getting nourishment just might be the best remedy for those aggravated vocal cords. In fact, “nutrient-dense foods are a low-risk, high-potential gain prescription,” says Cynthia Li, MD, an internal medicine physician and the author of Brave New Medicine. Even just grazing casually, you can really pack in the vitamins and minerals to combat the infection—which is what’s making you feel wretched in the first place (vitamin C and zinc are your BFFs when boosting your immune system to speed up recovery).

Meet the Experts: Cynthia Li, MD, an internal medicine physician. Nate Favini, MD, is the chief medical officer at Forward. Michelle Pearlman, MD, is an internist and gastroenterologist. Jaclyn Tolentino, DO, is a family physician who specializes in immune health. Paul Kwak, MD, is an otolaryngologist at the NYU Langone Voice Center's Department of Otolaryngology.

“The most common cause of a sore throat is a viral infection,” says Nate Favini, MD, the chief medical officer at Forward. “The virus and your immune response to the virus cause the lining of your throat to become inflamed, which causes pain.”

You also can’t ignore the pandemic elephant in the room: COVID-19 could be a contributing factor to your misery. “The common manifestations of COVID are tonsil enlargement, runny nose, and upper respiratory infection, and all can cause a sore throat,” says Michelle Pearlman, MD, an internist, gastroenterologist, and the co-founder and CEO of Prime Institute Miami. “A lot of viruses and bacteria can cause pharyngitis (a.k.a. a sore throat), sinus congestion, or a cough, and that irritates the throat and can cause swelling.”

Depending on how severe and how long you’ve had your symptoms, you may need to visit the doc, but it’s super important to rest up and stay hydrated. “Water can thin any sort of mucus secretions that might be occurring, and it can also help with the hydration of the throat and keep it moist,” explains family physician Jaclyn Tolentino, DO.

What else should you drink for a sore throat? Dr. Tolentino recommends sipping warm liquids like broths and teas—they’re easy to swallow and soothing. For solid sustenance, she suggests mostly soft foods to avoid irritating the delicate throat lining, so think milder options like yogurt, oatmeal, and Jell-O.

If you're down for the count with throat discomfort, try one of these foods or drinks to feel better. And something to look forward to: ice cream is on the list!


“Hot or warm liquids, such as tea, can be helpful by soothing the mucous membranes of the throat,” says Paul Kwak, MD, an otolaryngologist at the NYU Langone Voice Center's Department of Otolaryngology. “Sometimes with the warmth or heat, tea can increase blood flow to the tissue.” Furthermore, research indicates that black tea and green tea have anti-inflammatory effects, which can reduce the swelling of the tissue and ease the pain of a sore throat.

For a non-caffeinated option, try lemon, ginger, and honey tea. “I love this remedy because it provides a winning combination of vitamin C, as well as analgesic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and microbial properties,” says Dr. Tolentino.

hot tea poured into a glass cup


To sweeten your cup of tea, how about some honey? It's been a mainstay in medicinal remedies since ancient times, and for good reason. “Modern science has shown Manuka honey to be effective against a variety of infections, both bacterial and viral, including those that cause the common cold, as well as some Strep species,” says Dr. Li.

Just don't overdo it: “In larger doses, its sugar content can suppress the immune system from doing its job,” she says.

Herbal honey pouring into the wooden spoon.
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Chicken Soup

Sore throats are the result of inflammation and dehydration, explains Dr. Li. “Fluids like the broth in chicken soup not only replenish lost water, but the salt helps your body retain the fluid inside the tissue,” she says. The same rings true for virtually any broth—vegetable will do if you’re vegan.

Chicken soup in white bowl on wooden tray.
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“Yogurt is a good source of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats, as well as probiotic bacteria—the beneficial germs that support immune function and keep harmful germs from taking hold in our bodies,” says Dr. Li.

She says there might be a link between yogurt consumption and reduced rates of respiratory infections and ear pain. “Beyond that, the cool and soft textures of yogurt make it an easy food to swallow when nothing else soothes,” says Dr. Li.

Homemade yogurt
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Mashed Potatoes

Leave the skin on the potatoes while mashing for a rich source of magnesium, vitamin C, and antioxidants, which all support a strong immune system. Pro tip: Make sure your mashed potatoes aren't too hot, since that could irritate your throat even further, Dr. Favini says.

Mashed potato in bowl and fresh potatoes on wooden table
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Eggs have a soft texture and preparing them scrambled makes them especially palatable. What’s more, Dr. Li says eggs are rich in minerals like zinc, iron, and selenium, as well as vitamin D and B12, which can help ward off the awful infection that’s causing your sore throat.

Scrambled egg served in a pan.
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This morning staple is a treasure trove of nutrients. Dr. Li says oatmeal is rich in magnesium, zinc, and antioxidants, which rev up the body’s detoxification processes, then rid the body of waste and infection.

oatmeal porridge with ripe berries
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Ginger has been shown in lab experiments to have analgesic [pain-reducing], antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties,” says Dr. Li. “It also appears to inhibit the growth of certain harmful strains of bacteria.”

In a study published in Nutrition Journal, the combination of ginger and honey proved to be more effective than either alone. Since many sore throats are accompanied by postnasal drip, which can irritate the stomach and induce nausea, “ginger’s best-established property, [which is] fending off nausea, is another compelling reason to give it a try,” Dr. Li adds.

Fresh ginger whole and chopped on rustic wood surface
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Jell-O is a decent option when you have a sore throat, Dr. Li says. Keep tabs on the sugar content, though, since high-sugar treats can suppress the immune system from fighting off infections or repairing damaged tissues, she cautions.

Red jelly cubes in glass bowl with silver spoon
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Smoothies are a great way to load up on a whole salad’s worth of produce in a few sips. Dr. Li suggests sticking to ingredients like kale, celery, and berries, which are low in sugar and high in disease-fighting antioxidants.

Instead of using orange juice as your base, use water along with a whole orange or tangerine, which contains insulin-regulating fiber, in addition to over a day’s worth of vitamin C.

“For people with sore throats from a viral infection, I often recommend a high dose of vitamin C of up to 3,000 milligrams daily to boost the immune system and help you recover more quickly,” says Dr. Favini. Bonus points for extra crushed ice to soothe your throat even more.

Healthy appetizing red smoothie dessert in glasses
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Ice Cream

Cold foods like ice cream “can be particularly good because they help soothe the sore throat and may even reduce the inflammation,” Dr. Favini says. Just remember not to go overboard with the sugar content!

ice cream
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What foods should you avoid when you have a sore throat?

“You should stay away from crunchy and acidic foods when you have a sore throat because these can create tenderness around the throat area, which is already painful to begin with,” says Dr. Tolentino. “So things like crackers, coffee, and alcohol are all off-limits.”

Often these types of foods can also cause acid reflux, which can aggravate sore throats. Certain fatty, greasy, or spicy foods can loosen the muscle responsible for keeping food down and increase acid production, leading to digested contents from the stomach flowing back up and cause irritation, explains Dr. Pearlman.

Make sure to tame the flames. Spicy foods, like sauces and seasonings with chiles and cayenne, will also be irritating to the throat since they can affect the lining.

“For people with specific allergies or acid reflux, certain foods like dairy can also increase mucus production and even tomatoes for some,” adds Dr. Tolentino. So she recommends determining the cause of your throat pain early, ideally with the help of a doctor.

young asian woman feeling sick, suffering from sore throat, feeling sore and hurt, staying at home and resting on bed
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How should you treat a sore throat?

There are several natural and over-the-counter remedies available to help heal a sore throat, but not all of them are the healthiest, according to Dr. Tolentino.“I don’t particularly love over-the-counter cough syrups and tablets because I think they sometimes add other ingredients, like artificial colors and sweeteners, that aren’t the best and could cause other issues,” she says. Instead, she recommends the below home remedies and natural options:

A saltwater gargle: A teaspoon of table salt in lukewarm water, gargled twice a day at minimum, is one of Dr. Tolentino’s favorite remedies for a sore throat. “I find them helpful to calm down the throat because of the properties they have that draw out bacteria and viruses from the back of the throat. You’re submerging the cells in water and drawing out the infections through osmosis,” she explains.

Low-sugar lozenges: “A lot of lozenges have too much sugar, but I love the low-sugar ones from Nature’s Way and Thieves,” she says. They help numb the pain in your throat temporarily, which can provide relief.

Throat sprays: Throat sprays work similarly to lozenges in that they usually contain numbing agents that help prevent pain, and Dr. Tolentino uses them interchangeably with lozenges. The two brands she recommends are B. Immune and Urban Moonshine.

woman suffering from sore throat
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