Foods That Boost Immunity
Certain foods have the exact nutrients that can help boost immune systems to be as strong as possible, so when they are exposed to the inevitable germs, they are ready to fight.
While I can’t promise that you won’t get sick, you can absolutely build up your immune system with nutrient-dense foods. Reconsider stocking up on ramen noodles, sodium-packed canned soups and boxes of macaroni and cheese, which are void of nutrients and won’t help protect you from illness.
Rather, head to the produce aisle or frozen food aisle and choose nutrient-dense fruits, veggies and whole raw nuts and seed which are packed with immunity-boosting properties that can help prevent illness or shorten the duration of a cold or flu.
I can personally attest to giving my family a morning shot of a power green smoothie every day and seeing them go through cold and flu seasons untouched, or with minor colds that disappear quickly.
These are the foods you want to be serving your family all year long so they are constantly building their immune systems.
Almonds are packed with vitamin E and manganese, a strong immune-boosting duo that enhances natural killer cell activity. A hand-full of almonds each day is sufficient and provides the nutrients you need. See below for a great recipe using almonds.
Embrace Mother Nature with these tasty and protein-packed Nature Bars! With almonds, pumpkin seeds, raisins, sunflower seeds and so much more, these bars are perfect for a quick morning bite or an afternoon snack. Get the recipe here.
Packed with vitamin C, citrus fruits help increase the production of white blood cells, which are key to fighting infection. Adding vitamin C through eating citrus fruits helps build up the immune system.
Popular citrus fruits include:
This Kale Farro Citrus Salad combines kale, mandarin oranges, farro with olive oil and pumpkin seeds for a great immunity boosting meal.
Toss this together in ten minutes if you’ve already cooked the farro! Colorful and bursting with flavor, our Kale Farro Citrus Salad delivers as a side or an entrée. Enjoy immediately or pack in a mason jar and take it to go. Get the recipe here.
Broccoli is supercharged with vitamins and minerals. Packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as many other antioxidants and fiber, broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your table. The key to keeping its power intact is to cook it as little as possible — or better yet, not at all.
Check out this recipe for a high-protein pasta salad that calls for broccoli, whole wheat pasta, lean protein like chicken or fish and hard-boiled eggs and Greek yogurt. Or make a family favorite – chicken and broccoli mac and cheese.
Red Bell Peppers
While citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, red bell peppers actually have twice as much vitamin C as citrus fruits on an ounce per ounce basis. Slice up red peppers to eat with hummus or your favorite veggie dip, or add to salads for an extra crunch.
Try this creamy roasted cauliflower and red pepper soup. It’s both filling and flavorful. Onion and red pepper blend beautifully with paprika, rosemary, and garlic. These spinach and artichoke quinoa stuffed peppers are easy and delicious.
Berries are full of antioxidants, which help your body fight oxidative stress caused by free radicals. This helps keep our immune system fighting. There are many different berries you should try to include in your diet: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, and blackberries, to name a few. When fresh berries aren’t in season or are hard to find, frozen berries are just as nutritious.
Check out a couple of great recipes using berries:
Ginger is another ingredient to consider in boosting immunity. Ginger has been shown to help decrease inflammation, which can help reduce a sore throat and other inflammatory illnesses. Ginger is also used to help decrease nausea.
Greens Like Spinach and Kale
Spinach, kale and dark leafy greens like collard greens are rich in vitamin C. They are also packed with numerous antioxidants and beta carotene, which may increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems. Similar to broccoli, spinach and greens are healthiest when raw or cooked as little as possible so that they retain their nutrients.
Greens are easy to incorporate into your diet. For raw greens, think smoothies, smoothie bowls, and salads. This tropical kale smoothie is delicious and helps boost your immunity.
Yogurt, Non-Dairy Yogurt Alternatives, and Quark
The live and active probiotics in yogurt and yogurt alternatives stimulate your immune system. To ensure you are getting the most out of yogurt’s immune building properties, be sure you are using a low-sugar or no-added-sugar yogurt, as sugar has the opposite effect on our immune systems! Yogurt can be eaten on its own, as a replacement for sour cream, and in many delicious recipes.
Try these recipes using yogurt to boost your immunity: hazelnut cacao smoothie recipe using plant-based yogurt, traditional Greek Tzaziki Sauce, and for something sweet, try this cranberry orange yogurt cake.
More Ways to Prevent Illness
Be sure to eat a wide variety of immunity-boosting foods for maximum protection. A diet rich in nutrient-dense and high antioxidant foods can help boost your immune system to prevent colds and flu and to help you recover faster.
If you do get sick, be sure to check out 5 home remedies for colds and flu here.
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