With the cold and flu season right around the corner, staying healthy through the long winter months can be challenging. Instead of popping vitamin C and zinc tablets, why not turn to your diet to boost your immunity naturally? Here's a list of 12 superfoods that can benefit your overall health and help keep those coughs and sniffles away.
Salmon is highly nutritious, packed with protein and B-vitamins. It’s also full of omega-3 fatty acids that have been proven to fight inflammation and help the immune system stay strong. Salmon also contains zinc, which can reduce cold symptoms.
Tip: Wild-caught salmon is the most nutritious. Buy it fresh, frozen or canned to reap all the health benefits.
Kale is a superfood that contains phytonutrients, which can potentially reduce the risk of many chronic diseases. These nutrients have anti-inflammatory effects that strengthen our immune system. Kale is also a great source of folate, zinc, iron and magnesium.
Tip: Throw kale into a salad, sauté with olive oil and garlic or add to soups. And if you want a tasty, nutritious snack, make your own kale chips!
For all you garlic lovers out there, this one’s a no brainer. Garlic has antiviral and antibacterial properties and has been used for its medicinal benefits for centuries. Along with being a great source of vitamin C and B6, garlic is filled with a compound that releases antioxidants which boost the immune system to help you stay healthy.
Tip: The benefits are most effective when garlic is eaten raw, but it retains most of its potency if you chop it and allow it to stand for 10 minutes before cooking.
4. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
EVOO is another favorite of many that rebuilds and boosts the body’s immunity due to its high content of monounsaturated fats that reduce inflammation. It also contains antioxidants, and studies have shown that it can help reduce the risk of heart disease.
Tip: Use in place of butter or margarine when sautéing, drizzle over vegetables or use as a dressing.
Tomatoes are considered a superfood due to their high concentration of vitamin C and potassium, which have been proven to fuel your body’s immune system. They also contain lycopene, which protects against harmful UV rays and reduces cancer risk.
Tip: Add to soups, salads, make your own tomato sauce or sauté in olive oil and add to pasta.
Blueberries are a nutritional powerhouse filled with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber. They also contain phytonutrients, which fight against aging, cell damage and help keep us healthy in general. In fact, one study showed that adults who ate phytonutrients daily were 33% less likely to catch a cold.
Tip: When not in season, frozen blueberries are just as healthy. Add them to yogurt and smoothies or eat them alone as a snack!
If you are looking for a great source of plant protein, reach for some nutritious almonds. They are high in calcium and antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory. And like EVOO, their monounsaturated fats reduce the risk of heart disease.
Tip: Add almonds to yogurt or oatmeal. They are also great in salads and you can roast them in the oven for a delicious snack.
8. Greek Yogurt
Filled with probiotics that fight illnesses such as the common cold, Greek yogurt is packed with protein and a great source of calcium. It also improves digestion and has anti-inflammatory effects.
Tip: Pick up plain Greek yogurt and add your own fruit to lessen the sugar content. Also, use in place of mayo or sour cream in dips.
9. Black Beans
Black beans are another great plant-based protein source full of fiber, antioxidants and energy-boosting iron. Studies have shown that they also help reduce the risk of heart disease.
Tip: Add to salads and soups or make your own bean-based spread or dip.
According to a study at UCLA, broccoli boosts immunity by switching on antioxidant genes and enzymes in immune cells. It’s also an excellent source of fiber and vitamins and may prevent some types of cancer.
Tip: Steam, stir-fry, roast, add to soups, or enjoy raw with a yogurt-based dip.
Avocados are a highly nutritious fruit (yes- they are actually a fruit)! Rich in vitamin C and having more potassium than bananas, they reduce inflammation and strengthen the immune system.
Tip: Eat in salads, stuff with tuna or chicken salad, or slather on bread instead of mayo.
12. Sweet Potatoes
High in vitamins C and A which both boost the immune system, sweet potatoes are thought to help fight inflammation and reduce the risk of certain cancers. They are also a great source of potassium.
Tip: For a healthy side dish, make your own oven-baked sweet potato fries and dip them in plain Greek yogurt with a touch of honey.
So spend the winter season eating these immune-boosting foods to improve your overall health and lessen your chance of falling victim to the seasonal bug. And check out our products to keep your hair healthy too!