8 Best Immune-boosting Foods to Add to Your Diet
Wondering how to boost your immune system? That’s a commonly asked question, as a healthy immune system is important for preventing and recovering from colds and infections. Immune systems are complex, and while there’s no single food that can act as a quick fix, eating a variety of nutritious foods is the best way to ensure you get the various vitamins and minerals needed to support your immune health. Unsurprisingly, fruits, vegetables, and nuts are all nutrient powerhouses. Here are 8 immune-boosting foods to add to your diet today:
This green vegetable comes from the cabbage family and packs a vitamin-fueled punch with a combination of A, C, and E. They also are loaded with antioxidants and fiber. To help keep nutrients intact, it’s best to eat it raw or steamed.
Serving Tip: Steam some broccoli, and drizzle with a combo of 1 tbsp tahini, 1 tbsp olive oil, and 1 tsp maple syrup. Add some slivered almonds (also an immune-boosting food!) and some dried cherries for a delicious side dish.
As mentioned above, this tree nut is also an immune-boosting food. Not only are they full of powerful antioxidants, but they are also one of the best sources of vitamin E, and contain protein and healthy fats.
Serving Tip: Keep a small portion handy for afternoon snacks; the fiber will help keep you full until your next meal, and the protein can provide an energy boost.
All types of citrus are excellent sources of vitamin C, which produces the white blood cells needed to help fight infections. The body doesn’t make or store vitamin C, so it’s important to get some daily from food or supplements. The great thing about citrus is the wonderful variety; with oranges, grapefruit, clementines, tangerines, lemons, and limes to choose from, you can find all sorts of ways to work them into your daily routine and never get bored.
Serving Tip: Combine your favorite citrus with some coconut milk, spinach, and berries in a blender to make a delicious, immune-supporting smoothie.
4. Red Bell Peppers
Speaking of vitamin C, red peppers are a terrific source. You’d think orange peppers would be higher because of their citrus-like color, but red has them beat. They are also rich in beta carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A and is important for healthy eyes and skin.
Serving Tip: Cut the top off a red pepper, take out the seeds, and stuff with your choice of rice, quinoa, meat, veggies, or whatever leftovers you may have in your refrigerator, and bake at 350F until tender.
Ginger is not only a tasty spice but it may decrease inflammation in sore throats and instances of nausea.
Serving tip: Ginger candy may help settle upset stomachs, while hot water with ginger and lemon can relieve the irritation of a scratchy throat.
This bright yellow spice is often found in curry but can be used to add flavor to many types of dishes and teas. Turmeric contains curcumin, which is known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
Serving Tip: Try golden milk! You can find many recipes online containing either cow’s milk or nut milk, depending on your preference, and the other main ingredients in golden milk are turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, black pepper, and sweetener. It’s usually served warm and is especially nice to sip on a chilly day.
Garlic not only provides a delicious kick to a variety of dishes, but even early civilizations recognized its infection-fighting properties.
Serving Tip: Garlic works in everything from pasta sauce to stir-frys. For a real garlic-heavy treat, trim the head of a garlic clove so that the tops are showing, drizzle with olive oil, and roast in the oven at 400F for about 40-50 minutes. Spread on a fresh loaf of bread and enjoy!
Spinach is full of vitamins C, A, and E, plus numerous antioxidants and beta carotene.
Serving Tip: Eat raw as the base of a salad with almonds, red peppers, and orange slices topped with a ginger-turmeric dressing to combine several immune-boosting foods into one meal.
Bonus tip: Wash it all down with Green Tea
Green tea is full of an antioxidants which studies have shown to boost immune functions. Besides boosting the immune system, green tea’s compounds also have relaxing and mind-sharpening benefits as well.
Serving Tip: Use water that is just below boiling and steep for up to 2 minutes. Add some vitamin C via a squeeze of lemon.
Healthy whole foods act as great supplements to boost the immune system, so have fun combining them into new ideas for meals and snacks, and eat as many as possible to get their nutrient-packed benefits.
For suggestions on how to boost immune systems for various ages, check out our article Immune-Boosting Foods For Every Age Group.