Hey Angels and Alphas,
With the flu season right around the corner, having a strong immune system and healthy nutrition is a major plus. Not to mention, we’re still in a pandemic. While quality sleep, proper handwashing, social distancing, and regular exercise are all vital factors that will contribute to an effective and healthy immune system, the foods we eat every day will probably be one of the biggest keys to staying healthy and energetic during this flu season.
In particular, we want to focus on foods that contain a variety of vitamins and minerals that help boost the immune system, such as vitamins A, C, and D, as well as other minerals like zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and antioxidants.
Here are our 10 best picks for foods rich in those vitamins and minerals that you can rely on to boost your immune system this time of year.
#1 BEANS & LEGUMES
Adding beans to meals can offer several benefits. Remember these include black beans, garbanzo beans, white beans or even lentils. Just one cup of fiber-rich beans will offer you 13% of the daily recommendation of zinc. And consuming sufficient amounts of zinc will help shorten the duration of a cold – that’s a fact. Beans also offer important micronutrients such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, B-vitamins and folate, as well as much-needed plant-based protein.
Try it: Use them in dips, soups, sauces, or even mixed with meat for a budget-friendly protein meal.
Berries such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries all contain massive amounts of vitamin C, as well as a variety of flavonoids and antioxidants. These are compounds that help neutralize the hurtful free radicals across our body and they can lower the risk of chronic disease. Not to mention, flavonoids can be helpful for reducing the incidence of upper respiratory infections.
Try it: Add your berries to your salads, smoothies, toast or yogurt.
Broccoli is one of the most nutrient-dense cruciferous veggies rich in vitamins A, C and E. When you consume raw broccoli, you yield a higher vitamin C content, though cooking it slightly allows it to release more vitamin A.
Try it: Add your broccoli to pasta, breakfast hash, or egg muffins… or simply snack on it raw with a healthy dip such as hummus.
Eggs (with the yolk) are some of the most nutritious, immune system-fueling foods a person can add to their diet. The majority of the nutrients are found in the yolk, like vitamins A, D, and zinc. Eggs are also a protein-rich snack and can be great for any meal throughout the day.
Try it: From avocado toast and quiche to scrambled eggs, there are countless ways to enjoy them.
#5 FATTY FISH
Fatty fish, including salmon, mackerel and herring, are wonderful sources of omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA and EPA, which have been shown to help with the activation of certain immune cells that decrease inflammation. Not to mention, fatty fish are also natural sources of vitamin D and zinc.
Try it: Simply make a quick sheet-pan dinner or use your smoked salmon instead of lean meat.
Ginger is very well known for its many medicinal properties, some of which include reducing sore throats and inflammation, as well as helping to optimize immune function. Ginger has also been shown to decrease inflammation in respiratory infections.
Try it: Grate fresh ginger and add it to a soup or try ginger tea.
#7 GREEK YOGURT
Greek yogurt is a rich source of probiotics, the bacteria that help keep your gut detoxed and healthy. Having a healthy balance of “good” bacteria in your gut is vital for a healthy immune system that helps fight off invaders more efficiently. Try and find Greek yogurt or other types of yogurt that contain a large variety of probiotic strains. Greek yogurt is also one of few food sources offering vitamin D, which can help improve the immune response to infections and even improve your mood.
Try it: Use yogurt as a low-cal alternative to mayo in your salads, in breakfast bowls, or for a frozen yogurt treat alongside berries.
Raw honey, which tends to undergo less processing than traditional store honey, contains more antioxidants. These compounds help stimulate your immune cells and fight allergies.
Try it: Honey is most commonly used in teas and pies, though you can add it to your oats or Greek yogurt frozen treats.
#9 ORANGES (AND CITRUS FRUITS AS A WHOLE)
Oranges, as well as other citrus fruits such as grapefruit, lemons, limes and tangerines, are some of the richest sources of vitamin C in nature. Research shows being deficient in vitamin C will definitely immunity, while the extra doses will reduce the duration of infections. Vitamin C is a water-soluble nutrient – this means the body doesn’t store it, so you need to keep replenishing it constantly through your diet.
Try it: Add citrus fruits to your salads, snacks, or smoothies, or just enjoy them raw.
#10 SWEET POTATOES
Sweet potatoes are abundant in a compound known as beta carotene, which the body converts into much-needed vitamin A. Just one medium sweet potato contains the recommended daily amount of vitamin A and will also provide you with nearly half of your daily vitamin C needs. Sweet potatoes have the extra bonus of offering satiating fiber, manganese, potassium, B-vitamins and a ton of other antioxidants that help protect your cells against disease.
Try it: Use them in enchiladas, waffles, or even in sweet potato fries.