10 Immune Boosting Foods to Keep You Healthy


As Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to impact our communities and the larger world around us, staying healthy is on the forefront of everyone’s minds. Simple hygiene practices such as washing hands and administering to social distance rules can go a long way, but the food we choose to eat may also have a strong effect on our continued health.

In a recent interview for The New York Times, Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, dean of the Freidman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, cites a national report describing poor diet as “now the leading cause of poor health in the U.S.” and the cause of more than half a million deaths per year. The problem is only exacerbated now, with “poor diet contributing to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes or pre-diabetes, which pose the biggest risk, beyond age, for illness and death from Covid-19.”

Incorporate the following foods into your quarantine diet, packed with antioxidants and vitamins, to boost your immune system.

Beta-Carotene:

As a great source of Vitamin A, beta-carotene is an antioxidant that works to reduce inflammation and strengthen the body’s immune response. Here are a few beta-carotene packed foods to incorporate in your diet:

Dark, leafy greens

For best vitamin absorption, it can be beneficial to pair dark, leafy greens with healthy fats, such as nuts.

Dark leafy greens include:

  1. Arugula

  2. Kale

  3. Spinach

Try this week:

Arugula and Goat Cheese Muffins

Mango Kale Black Bean Quinoa Salad

Spinach and Goat Cheese Salad

Sweet Potatoes

The antioxidants found in sweet potatoes are not only critical to immune support, they’re also packed with healthy fiber.

Try this week:

Sweet Potato Oat Biscuits

Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese

Sweet Potato Pancakes with Balsamic Maple Mushrooms

Sweet Potato Chili with Peanuts

Blueberries

Not only are blueberries a delicious superfood, but they also contain flavonoids with antioxidant properties helping to boost your immunity defense.

A 2016 study shows that flavonoids have an essential role in strengthening the immune system, reducing the likelihood of contracting an upper respiratory tract infection or the common cold.

Try this week:

Blueberry Coconut Overnight Oats

Blueberry Lassi

Blueberry Blast Smoothie

Garlic

You may already know that garlic is a common home remedy for illness prevention because it naturally destroys bacteria. Garlic is just as healthy for your immune system as it is delicious and easy to incorporate in home cooked meals.

Try this week:

Garlic and White Bean Soup

Garlicky Greens and Mushrooms

Pasta Shells with Garlic and Kale

Vitamins C and E:

Vitamins C and E function as essential nutrients in antioxidant form, that include foods such as: red peppers, oranges, strawberries, broccoli, mangoes, lemons, nuts, seeds, spinach, and broccoli.

Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits help to reduce inflammation, support immunity, and help our bodies to function properly.

Citrus fruits include:

  • Clementines

  • Lemons

  • Limes

  • Oranges

  • Grapefruit

  • Pomelos

Try this week:

Blood Orange Fennel Salad

Apple Kale Lime Smoothie / Ginger Turmeric Lime Smoothie

Lemon Basil Wheat Berry Salad

Summer Citrus Salad

Citrus Chicken Platter

Broccoli

Broccoli is a great immune-boosting vegetable because it’s so rich in nutrients and has an abundance of healthy fiber, helping to keep you fuller longer.

Try this week:

Broccoli Slaw

Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe and Sausage

Instant Pot Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Red Peppers

Red bell peppers contain twice as much vitamin C as fruit, so it’s a great choice to incorporate into regular meals, while trying to ward off any illnesses. Bell peppers are also an excellent option for people who are trying to limit their carb consumption.

Try this week:

Grilled Vegetable Flatbread Pizza

Seitan with Sweet Peppers and Onions

Turkey Fajitas with Baby Spinach and Red Peppers

Peppers Stuffed with Turkey and Wild Rice

Rigatoni with Red Peppers

Zinc:

Zinc is a mineral that can help boost white blood cells, which defend against invaders. Sources include nuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, beans, and lentils.

Almonds

Almonds are also a great source of vitamin E, helping to keep our immune systems at peak performance, as well as a healthy protein and fat. A small handful or a quarter of a cup of almonds is a healthful snack that may benefit the immune system.

Try this week:

Grilled Atlantic Salmon with Toasted Almonds and Raisin Couscous

Almond Crusted Chicken Tenders

Pumpkin seeds

These small but mighty seeds are a good source of zinc, a mineral crucial for immune cells to function and do their jobs properly. About 1.5 ounces of pumpkin seeds provide about 20% of your daily requirement for zinc.

Try this week:

Hot pumpkin seeds with spices

Millet with Pumpkin Seeds and Mushrooms

Mashed Avocado Toast with Feta and Pepitas

Omega 3:

Fish

Salmon, tuna, pilchards, and other oily fish are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help to support white blood cell function.

Try this week:

Salmon Tartine

Roasted Beet Salad with Seared Tuna

Grilled Salmon Tacos with Grape Pico de Gallo

Which immune-booster will you add into your menu rotation first?

Sources:

https://health.usnews.com/wellness/food/slideshows/foods-that-can-support-your-immunity

https://www.pcrm.org/news/blog/foods-boost-immune-system

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6834330/