Eating foods to naturally boost your immune system is a healthy habit to have. Yet now, more than ever, as COVID-19 becomes a way of life and winter approaching, it is more important than ever to strengthen your body’s defences.
Luckily the immune system thrives when you feed it particular delicious foods, all of which are super-easy to incorporate into your everyday diet.
To ensure your family are in good position should illness come knocking, here is a list of foods that seriously boost your immune system.
15 Foods to seriously boost your immune system
Boost your immune system with blueberries that are packed with antioxidants and phytoflavinoids. These compounds fight inflammation and help lower your risk of heart disease and cancer. Blueberries are also rich in potassium and vitamin C.
How to cook with blueberries: Fresh or frozen blueberries are amazing with oatmeal, cereals and other berries or just eating alone. Add to baked goods like muffins, cakes, pies and bread.
2. DARK CHOCOLATE
According to a study published in the journal Nature, dark chocolate (when not eaten with milk or sugar) contains powerful antioxidants that destroy free radicals implicated in many diseases. Just make sure you balance your chocolate intake by eating less unhealthy foods.
How to cook with dark chocolate: Dark chocolate shavings is an amazing all-around topping. Substitute dark chocolate for milk chocolate when baking or making desserts.
Yoghurt contains probiotics or good bacteria that may help boost the immune system by improving the body’s resistance and recovery from infection. It may also improve the success of drug therapy in people with H. pylori infections.
How to cook with yoghurt: Yoghurt makes a great topping for breakfast cereals, oatmeal, and chilled soups. You can also used it as a substitute for sour cream, cream or milk when cooking.
Mushrooms are packed with antioxidants that protect the body from damaging molecules that may cause serious illness. A Penn State study found that white button mushrooms have more antioxidant capacity than tomatoes, green peppers, carrots, pumpkins and zucchini.
How to cook with mushrooms: Mushrooms are a fantastic substitute for meat, chicken and fish. Throw some mushrooms in your stir fry, make portobello mushroom burgers, or slice them up for soups.
5. OILY FISH
Oily or fatty fish like salmon, herring, albacore tuna, anchovies, and sardines are the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids that boost activity of a white blood cell called a B cell, an important part of the body’s immune response.
How to cook with oily fish: Steamed isn’t the only way to serve oily fish. Try grilling with veggies or making into a hearty stew with root vegetables. Also amazing with zucchini noodles or regular pasta.
IMMUNE SYSTEM BOOSTING FOODS (CONT.)
Compounds in broccoli called carotenoids can help boost your body’s defense against germs and bad microorganisms. It may also lower your chances of getting heart disease, lower blood sugar and stop cancer cells from forming.
How to cook with broccoli: Besides delicious stir fries, broccoli is yummy when steamed, baked or grilled. Also try adding broccoli to casseroles, soups, and stews.
7. SUNFLOWER SEEDS
Healthy fats in sunflower seeds may help reduce your risk for heart disease. These seeds are loaded with vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E that is known for it’s strong anti-inflammatory properties and copper that helps with immune function.
How to cook with sunflower seeds: Sunflower seeds taste amazing roasted and added to bread, baked goods, veggies, granola and salads. Also try the seeds when making pesto or burgers.
If you want to boost your immune system, try fresh ginger. Ginger is packed with antioxidants and is great at stopping the growth of bad bacteria like E. coli and shigella. It may also help keep some viruses at bay.
How to cook with ginger: Ginger tea is a simple recipe that can help ease congestion and soothe your throat when you have a cough or cold. Ginger is also delicious in stir fries and in sauces for meat, poultry and fish.
Another pantry staple that helps the body fight illness is the humble garlic. It has natural anti-viral properties. Red blood cells turn digested garlic compounds into hydrogen sulfide, a compound that increases blood flow and may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
How to cook with garlic: Saute garlic for stir fries, make a garlic rub for roast meat and poultry, add to dressings and sauces, and mix with roast veggies.
No wonder spinach is a super food. It is loaded with vitamin A, C and K, folate, magnesium, iron, carotenoids and other nutrients that clear the body of free radicals and keep the cells healthy so they can fight off infections.
How to cook with spinach: Try fresh spinach in salads and sandwiches. Also great in green smoothies, juices, stir fries, dips, soups, dressings, quiches and casseroles.
FOODS TO SERIOUSLY BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM (CONT.)
Ginger’s bright orange cousin has long been used in Indian medicine to treat various ailments. The curcumin in turmeric may help fight off viruses, including those that cause herpes and the flu. Curcumin is also anti inflammatory.
How to cook with turmeric: Blend turmeric powder in smoothies, soups, stews and curries. You can also use turmeric to add colour to rice dishes. Turmeric tea is an amazing drink when you have the sniffles.
12. SWEET POTATO
Sweet potato is a nutrient powerhouse that contains high levels of antioxidants that protect cells from free radical damage and help keep illness at bay. One medium baked potato contains 400% of the daily value for vitamin A.
How to cook with sweet potato: Use sweet potato each time a recipe calls for potato to boost your fibre and antioxidant intake. Great baked, fried, roasted and pureed for smoothies and baked goods.
A handful of almonds is a filling snack that boosts your immune system. Almonds are packed with vitamin E, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. A new study found that almond skins improved the ability of white blood cells to detect viruses and increasing the body’s ability to prevent viruses from replicating.
How to cook with almonds: Almond milk, yoghurt and butter are great substitutes for traditional dairy products. Roast almonds for snacking, blitz in a blender to make dips, and add to green salads.
14. CITRUS FRUITS
Eating citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits and tangerines won’t keep you from catching a cold, but it may help you feel better and recover faster if you eat enough before you have symptoms. Citrus fruits are rich not only in vitamin C but also fibre and other essential nutrients.
How to cook with citrus fruits: If you hate raw citrus, try using the juice in glazes and sauces for pasta, meat, poultry and fish. Also preserve citrus fruits for jams, marmalade and spreads.
15. KIWI FRUIT
Loaded with fibre, potassium and vitamin C (comparable to a medium orange), kiwi fruit is a tasty way to boost your immune system. Vitamin C is am antioxidant that keeps cells functioning at their best, including immune cells that fight bacteria/viruses and prevent disease.
How to cook with kiwi fruit: Kiwi is best eaten raw or in salads, brekkie bowls, smoothies, and drinks. You can also use kiwi in marinades, salsa, puddings, jams and parfaits.