Maintaining a strong immune system is critically important for your overall health. However, not everyone can munch on oranges all day long. While oranges are plentiful in vitamins and minerals, some people are allergic to them. There are a few surprising foods that are incredibly delicious and help to boost the immune system. Here are 10 of them:
One of the most underrated fruits, persimmons are an excellent source of immune-boosting vitamins A and C. Just a single medium-sized persimmon provides the body with around half of the RDI of vitamin A, playing a vital role in maintaining immune cells. Additionally, persimmons are loaded with nutrients, which support overall health. They’re renowned for their rich flavonoid antioxidant content, such as kaempferol and quercetin, which help to improve your immune system, enhance your heart health, and support healthy vision.
Believe it or not, 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder can significantly enhance your well-being by strengthening your immune system. Known for its potent anti-inflammatory properties and rich antioxidant content, turmeric fights chronic inflammation that triggers plenty of illnesses and diseases. The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin also offers anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-cancer properties. Moreover, it’s overbrimming with potassium, vitamin C, manganese, B vitamins, fiber, iron, and zinc.
Improve your immunity by providing your body with the essential nutrients, phytonutrients, and antioxidants abundantly found in leafy greens like spinach. A single cup of spinach contains 13% of the RDI of vitamin C, 56% of the RDI of vitamin A, a gram of protein, 167 mg of potassium, and other vitamins and minerals needed for strong immunity and optimal health. Spinach is also a great source of folic acid that plays a key role in repairing cells, fights premature aging, and wards off cancer.
A study published in FEMS Immunology & Medical Microbiology showed that eating cheese on a daily basis helps to enhance and preserve the immune system. The thing is, cheese acts as a probiotic carrier, improving the immune response. Eating cheese is particularly vital for elderly who are prone to immunosenescence, the age-related declines in the immune system. Immunosenescence means the body fails to combat tumor cells and lowers the immune response to infections and vaccinations. There are many interesting and delicious ways to incorporate cheese into your daily diet, find more info here.
- Unsweetened dark chocolate
Chocolate lovers rejoice! Unsweetened dark chocolate should become one of your favorite immunity-boosting foods in 2019. A chemical named theobromine found in cocoa has been proven to maintain a strong immunity and even ease the cold and flu symptoms like a cough. Cocoa blocks the sensory nerve action and thus stopping the cough reflex. Moreover, dark chocolate contains minerals like zinc and powerful antioxidants, which are effective in preventing diseases. Just ensure you opt for unsweetened dark chocolate or at least choose the naturally sweetened one.
While it’s recommended to stay away from dairy products when you get sick, yogurt can be a health exception. Just like cheese, the live-culture yogurt contains beneficial bacteria that aid in seeding the gut with immunity-boosting organisms that protect from cold and flu viruses and other health issues caused by the weak immune system. The strains of Lactobacilli found in yogurt have been revealed to suppress the virus replication as soon as viruses get into the system. Be sure you buy sugar-free, organic yogurt or make your own one. Avoid yogurts that contain sugar as this ingredient negatively affects the immune system.
- Sweet potatoes
The popular comfort food during the cold and flu season, sweet potato is an excellent source of a powerful antioxidant called beta carotene. The body converts this antioxidant into vitamin A that supports both the integrity of the mucous membranes and the immune system. One sweet potato contains 368% of the RDI of vitamin A.
Multiple types of research have shown that sweet potatoes contain the starchy glycosides that boast the powerful antimicrobial abilities. Apart from beta-carotene, sweet potatoes will supply your body with vitamin C and vitamin D to help you ward off viruses and improve your bone health at the same time.
- Red bell peppers
Another fantastic source of vitamin C, red bell peppers provide the body with a whopping 285% of the RDI of that vitamin in 100 grams. Red bell peppers are a healthy and delicious alternative to oranges and tangerines that can sometimes trigger a citrus allergy. Red bell peppers are also loaded with vitamin A, vitamin B6, magnesium, iron, protein, and calcium, among the others. Opt for organic and ripe red bell peppers and eat them raw. Cooked red bell peppers preserve little to no nutrients mentioned above.
Mushrooms should become your next favorite food in 2019. Anything from reishi, maitake, and white button mushrooms to shiitake varieties contribute to a strong immune system. Eating mushrooms regularly helps to combat viruses, alleviate respiratory ailments, and maintain the immune system healthy. Since mushrooms easily absorb toxins and harmful chemicals from the soil, it’s best to consume organically grown and well-cooked mushrooms.
- Brazil nuts
One ounce of Brazil nuts has your RDI of the virus-fighting mineral called selenium. The mineral is renowned for increasing production of cytokines in the body, small proteins that aid in removing any viruses existing in the system. Selenium deficiency can increase your risk of lung inflammation, heart disease, and other serious health issues. Choose lightly roasted or raw Brazil nuts. Avoid salted and flavored Brazil nuts. They do more harm than good to your immune system.
If you haven’t thought about your 2019 meal plan yet, or you have trouble adding healthy foods to it, make sure you incorporate these 10 tasty and healthy foods. Not only do they help to support and boost the immune system, but also could help you ease the symptoms of any existing disease – be it cold or flu or a cardiovascular disease. Don’t forget about moderation, though.