A strong immune system helps keep you healthy, so there’s no better time to bolster yours than during cold and flu season. Pop these fabulous immune boosting foods on your weekly shopping list and ward of the dreaded winter lurgies. Read on to discover their cold-and-flu-fighting super powers, then make sure you add them to your trolley.
1. Citrus Fruits
Most people rush out to buy Vitamin C after they’ve caught a cold. However, as your body doesn’t produce or store Vitamin C, you actually need a daily dose to maintain health. This is because Vitamin C helps build up your immune system and is thought to increase the production of white blood cells, which are key to fighting infections. Delicious citrus fruits to munch on include grapefruit, oranges, mandarins, lemons and limes. Eat the whole fruit or add a squeeze of lemon or lime to your food. Yum!
2. Red Capsicums
These sweet, crunchy and versatile fruits (yes, fruits) pack a powerful dose of Vitamin C, containing twice as much as citrus. They are also a rich source of beta carotene and can help optimise eye and skin health. Best eaten raw to preserve the nutrient content, capsicum is perfect for adding crunch and colour to your salad. Or try serving in sticks, alongside your favourite dip.
One of the most nutritious foods on the planet, broccoli is packed with vitamins and minerals, including Vitamins A, C and E, as well as many antioxidants. To get the best nutritional bang for your buck, serve raw (eg. as part of a salad), or very lightly steamed. Broccoli sprouts are also nutrient-dense and easy to grow at home.
Almonds contain valuable Vitamin E – essential to a healthy immune system. A fat-soluble vitamin, Vitamin E requires the presence of fats to be absorbed by the body. This makes almonds the perfect delivery vehicle as they are both high in Vitamin E and healthy fats. A handful of almonds makes the perfect portable, healthy snack, so stash some in your desk drawer, car, or gym bag.
Regularly eating garlic may help prevent the common cold or the flu, as it has immune-boosting properties stemming from a heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds such as allicin. Prior to cooking garlic, allow it to stand for 10 minutes after crushing or slicing to increase the allicin content. Two to three cloves a day is an effective dose to experience the benefits.
With chronic inflammation in the body at the root of most chronic disease, ginger has an important role to play in boosting wellness. It’s valued for its anti-inflammatory as well as antioxidative properties, making it a great addition to countless winter dishes. Fresh ginger may be sliced and added to a lemon and honey tea, or grated and included in soups, curries and other comforting dishes.
Spinach increases the infection-fighting ability of our immune system, with research indicating that the flavonoids found in spinach may help prevent the common cold in otherwise healthy people. Healthiest eaten raw, spinach is also rich in antioxidants called carotenoids, as well as Vitamins C and E. Your spinach should also ideally be organic, due to high levels of pesticides used in standard farming practices.
8. Green Tea
Packed with powerful antioxidants shown to enhance immune function, green tea is the perfect health tonic all year round. A great low-caffeine alternative to coffee, it’s also a good source of L-theanine – an amino acid that may aid in the production of germ-fighting compounds. And, if you find the pure form not to your liking, there are some great infusions available. Green Tea and Pomegranate is my particular favourite.
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