8 Immune-Boosting Foods to Safeguard Your Health
What does the term “superfood” actually mean? Generally, people use the term “superfood” to describe foods with great nutritional benefits. While no food will 100% prevent illnesses like the common cold or the flu, many contain nutrients that can help boost your body’s natural immunity.
Examples of immune-boosting foods include berries, cherries, fish, garlic, yogurt and tomatoes: most of which you can find at your local supermarket. By including these and other superfoods in your diet, you can best prepare your body for cold and flu season (and beyond).
Below, we cover some of our favorite immune-boosting foods. Use the information to create the perfect grocery list.
1. Teas, for antioxidant protection
There’s nothing more relaxing than enjoying a warm cup of tea on a cool day. Black and green teas feature a plentiful number of antioxidants known as flavonoids. Flavinoids found in green tea include epigallocatechin and L-theanine, both of which can help improve immune function. Black tea contains alkylamine and tannins that help boost immunity. Green and oolong teas also include plentiful catechins.
2. Garlic, for immune-boosting function
Present in garlic cloves, allicin is a compound that converts into Sulphur compounds, which can help white blood cells fight off viruses. Add a few garlic cloves to your next savory meal for an immune system boost. Delicious garlic-centered dishes include roasted garlic soup, garlic beef stir fry, pan-roasted garlic chicken and lemon garlic fish. Try using full garlic cloves as opposed to garlic powder.
3. Ginger, to fight off inflammation
Ginger is a great addition to teas and Asian-inspired dishes. Offering a sweet taste, ginger can help the body fight against certain chronic illnesses, including hypertension and CHD. Some studies have even found that ginger possesses antibacterial properties. At most supermarkets, you can find picked ginger and full ginger roots, both of which are packed with vital nutrients.
4. Mushrooms, for holistic benefits
Mushrooms are an excellent substitute for red meat. Packed with protein and Vitamin D, these tasty fungi make a great addition to dishes like spaghetti, ramen and curry. You can even make mushrooms the center of attention by cooking up mushroom soup, sauteed mushrooms or stuffed portobello mushrooms. The nutrients present in mushrooms can help improve heart health, boost immunity and even fight age-related diseases.
5. Yogurt, to aid in digestion
Known for its huge amounts of probiotics, yogurt is one of the best foods for improving digestion. Probiotics also help boost immunity and can aid in the fight against health issues like heart disease, arthritis and cancer. The Vitamin D present in yogurt helps combat infections and mental health issues.
6. Leafy greens, for total-body wellness
Your mother wasn’t lying when she said it’s important to eat your vegetables! Leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, contain high levels of essential nutrients. Enjoy a delicious spinach salad, sautéed kale or gingered watercress for a boost of Vitamin C and E. Just remember to avoid using bottled dressings on your salads, since they often contain added sugar and a lot of saturated fat. Instead, top your salads with a good oil like olive oil or sunflower oil, to help the body better absorb nutrients.
7. Poultry, to build your strength
Protein is an important component of any healthy diet, since it helps build muscle, repair tissue, oxygenate red blood cells and digest food. Chicken, turkey and other forms of poultry feature large amounts of protein and B vitamins, making them the perfect addition to any healthy diet. Poultry is also much better for you than red meat, as it contains less saturated fats.
Avoid unhealthy methods of cooking poultry, like frying or adding too much sodium. Instead, try a grilled chicken salad packed with leafy greens and other vegetables or a turkey burger topped with tomatoes, onions, avocado and arugula.
8. Nuts, to give you healthy energy
The benefits of nuts, including almonds and cashews, are seemingly endless. They can help lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation, reduce risk of heart attack and aid in weight loss. Nuts are also packed with antioxidants and other nutrients, including protein, Vitamin E, magnesium, copper and fiber.
Don’t avoid nuts because of the high caloric content. While nuts are high in fats, eating them in moderate amounts can actually help you lose weight. They also provide the body with plenty of energy, making nuts the perfect pre-workout snack.
Final thoughts on immune-boosting superfoods
Diet is extremely important when it comes to maintaining good health. Eating immune-boosting foods can aid your body as it fights against a litany of diseases and infections. Limit or avoid substances bad for your immune system, like sugar and processed foods. Instead replace them with some of the superfoods mentioned above. Don’t forget to consult your doctor before making any major changes to your diet.