Ah, winter. For a lot of us, it’s a season full of snow, the holiday spirit, and…cold and flu season. Now more than ever, it’s important to keep your immune system in tip-top condition to help it fight off any infections that may come it's way.
Fortunately, there are lots of tasty foods out there that can help keep your body healthy during the colder months. Check out the list below and be sure to throw some of these immune system boosters into your cart on your next grocery store trip.
A lot of people like to turn to vitamin C once they’ve caught a cold, and citrus fruits are a great source of this immune system booster. Remember that your body doesn’t make or store vitamin C, so it’s important to make sure you’re incorporating it into your diet every day. Luckily, there are lots of delicious citrus fruits, such as oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, lemons, and limes.
Chicken noodle soup is another popular go-to when you’re sick, and for good reason. Poultry like chicken and turkey are a good source of vitamin B6, which can help form new red blood cells and reduce inflammation in the body. Note that this is another vitamin that your body doesn’t produce on its own, so it is essential that you obtain it from your diet or supplements.
And, if the stock or broth in your soup is made from boiling poultry bones, it will contain chondroitin, gelatin, and other nutrients that can contribute to gut health and immunity.
Broccoli is probably one of the healthiest vegetables around, so it’s no surprise that it can benefit the immune system. It contains vitamins A, C, and E, fiber, and a ton of antioxidants to help keep sicknesses at bay. It’s best if you cook it as little as possible, but if you don’t like it raw try steaming it to minimize the loss of these nutrients during the cooking process.
Spinach is another green vegetable packed with infection-fighting nutrients. It’s a good source of vitamin C, various antioxidants, iron, zinc, and beta carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Like broccoli, you should try and minimize cooking spinach so it retains its nutrients, but a little cooking can make it easier for your body to absorb vitamin A. Light cooking also allows even more nutrients to be released from a compound called oxalic acid, so try steaming your spinach to maximize its beneficial effects.
Sweet potatoes are packed with nutrients, such as vitamin C, vitamin B6, fiber, manganese, numerous antioxidants, and beta carotene. In fact, orange sweet potatoes are one of the richest sources of beta carotene around, which, once again, is converted to vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A is an essential part of a healthy immune system, and fortunately, sweet potatoes don’t seem to lose much of it or any of its other nutrients during the cooking process. Cook them however you like and enjoy!