Do you go shopping? Could you add some extremely healthy products to your shopping list and do something good for your immune system? You read that right. This means that with certain foods you can effectively support the body’s natural defenses and protect yourself even better from viruses, bacteria and harmful substances.
To help you make the best choice, we have prepared a list of the best foods for strengthening your immune system for you. All you have to do is choose the ones you prefer and then relax and enjoy the fact that you have prevented the harmful effects of microbes!
Are there any foods that support the immune system?
If you’ve read our previous article on the 5 Best Natural Ways to Boost Your Immune System, then you already know what we’re about to tell you. But it is important to repeat it again so that it is clear to everyone: Trying to hack your body’s natural “security system” to enhance its performance would really do you more harm than good. What we mean by “empower” is simply to help your body use its full potential in defense against intruders.
This also clarifies the answer to the previous question: there are actually no foods that improve the immune system. However, there are many foods that help it function smoothly, thus allowing it to fully exploit its potential and keep you healthy. Let’s take a look at which products you should purchase to maximize your chances of warding off diseases and ailments.
The best fruit for strengthening the immune system
Do you want to avoid catching a cold? Eat blueberries! A study conducted a few years ago has actually shown that some substances contained in these delicious berries help defend our respiratory system from infections. These substances are called bioflavonoids and are compounds produced by the plant’s metabolism, known for their antioxidant properties.
One more tip: do you know that blueberries aren’t just delicious when you eat them for breakfast, as a refreshing snack or as a healthy dessert? They are also good eaten for lunch, for example in a delicious and colorful quinoa salad!
Other berries that are good for the immune system? Here they are! The fruits of the elderberry plant have long been used to prepare syrups and tablets since their extracts have anti-inflammatory properties and are rich in flavonoids, substances known for the protective action they have on the lungs. This is why elderberry syrup is a well-known remedy for colds, flu and sinus infections.
Some studies suggest that elderberry remedies can shorten the duration of a flu infection and it is even speculated that this plant may help in the fight against COVID-19. But before you start stocking up on elderberries, thinking that this way you can keep the coronavirus away from you, remember that these are just hypotheses for now. Therefore, you are better off sticking to social distancing rules and washing your hands often.
If someone asked you which foods improve the immune system, citrus fruits would probably be high on your list. As everyone knows, citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C, a hero in the battles against cough, fever and a runny nose.
But what’s so special about vitamin C that every child knows its importance? Well, for starters, vitamin C aids in the proper functioning of the immune system. It is believed that by promoting the production of white blood cells, it improves the body’s ability to fight infections.
Almost all popular citrus fruits, namely oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit and clementines, contain a lot of vitamin C, so it’s easy to squeeze a dose of health into many dishes and drinks. And since our bodies neither produce nor store vitamin C, you should make sure you always have its natural sources in your pantry.
Experts recommend taking at least 60-90 mg of vitamin C per day . What does this mean? These are, for example, at least 2 deciliters of freshly squeezed orange juice.
And where do we put them together with all this delicious fruit? In a smoothie, of course! If you are looking for delicious and refreshing combinations with citrus and other nutritious fruits, be sure to check out our detox drink recipes! If you prefer chopped fruit, we have another interesting idea: treat yourself to an orange for lunch, to serve it in a salad with avocado and salmon.
Delicious and healthy, papaya is certainly one of the best foods for strengthening the immune system. Just like its citrus “cousins”, papaya is an excellent source of vitamin C and also contains vitamin A. Both of these nutrients are vital for the proper functioning of our body’s natural defense system, preventing colds, flu and various types. of infections.
Like papaya, kiwifruit are also rich in vitamin C and other essential nutrients, such as vitamin K, potassium and folic acid. Did you know that a single cup of this delicious fruit contains almost three times the daily requirement of vitamin C? So what are you waiting for to make a smoothie or add it to your fruit salad?
While the immunity benefits of citrus and kiwifruit aren’t exactly exciting news for many, we bet you’ll be surprised to find that one of your favorite summer refreshments is also a great immune-booster. Watermelon is a great source of vitamins A, B6 and C, as well as potassium. All of these nutrients are key to keeping your body strong in the fight against harmful invaders. Additionally, watermelons provide glutathione, another important antioxidant that protects against the effects of peroxides, heavy metals and free radicals, molecules that can damage our cells and make us sick.
Following in the list of foods that strengthen the immune system are tomatoes which, regardless of the variety chosen, are all true superstars of immunity. Just like the more traditional fruit, they are a treasure trove of vitamin C. They also provide us with other vital antioxidants, such as beta-carotene (which our body converts to vitamin A, which is essential for vision and healthy skin) and vitamin E (which protects cells from damage).
But before you go to stock up on ketchup or prepare a delicious “Bolognese” sauce, a tip: to really benefit from all their nutritional goodness, it is best to eat both cooked and raw tomatoes. This is because nearly a third of their vitamin C content is lost with cooking. But don’t despair if you like tomatoes processed in sauce, roasted or fried, because things are a little more complex than that!
In fact, research shows that when cooked, levels of a compound called lycopene increase significantly, which, in addition to giving tomatoes their red color, is a very powerful antioxidant. This means that even a delicious “Bolognese” sauce has beneficial effects on immunity. But don’t forget to occasionally put some fresh sliced tomatoes in a sandwich or salad for an extra dose of vitamin C.
What are the vegetables that support the immune system?
We know they’re good, but we often forget how important they really are when it comes to “immunity boosting” diets. Red peppers are an alternative to fruit as a source of vitamins and allow you to fill up on vitamin C while avoiding the sugars contained in fruit. But that is not all. Many think that no food can compare to citrus fruits when it comes to the amount of vitamin C, but in reality this is not the case: red peppers contain about three times the vitamin C contained in oranges! And they also contain beta-carotene.
You can choose to eat raw red peppers, but if that’s not your thing, experts recommend getting them fried or roasted, instead of cooking them in other ways. In fact, they retain most of their nutritional value.
The roster of immunity superheroes continues with another strong contender for the role of best all-rounder: broccoli. Packed with vitamins A, C and E, antioxidants and fiber (great for fighting slow digestion!), This vegetable is one of the best choices for strengthening the immune system.
If you don’t eat broccoli as a snack or side dish, you don’t know what you’re missing! Just be careful not to overcook this rich source of nutrients.
You can steam them lightly, so they will be soft and ready to eat right away. But if you like strong flavors, you can also eat them raw.
Raw garlic has been used to fight viral, bacterial and fungal infections for millennia. While more research is needed to conclusively prove that it can help prevent colds or the flu, it is definitely a great remedy for cold symptoms. In fact, thanks to its antiviral properties, garlic reduces these symptoms and therefore helps you to get back on your feet faster.
Additionally, these highly aromatic bulbs are also rich in antioxidants which can successfully fight free radicals associated with cardiovascular and other more serious health problems.
A list of foods to improve the immune system isn’t complete without spinach! Rich in fiber, vitamins A and C, magnesium and folic acid (which helps our cells function properly and form red blood cells), they provide all the nutrients needed to keep our immune function in tip top condition.
As with broccoli, you’ll get the best from spinach if you eat them raw, so why not put them in a bun, they are great! If you need to cook them, do it lightly to preserve as many nutrients as possible.
And because we really care about you, here’s some expert advice. If you want to be as healthy and strong as Popeye, grab some baby spinach before you leave the supermarket. The leaves of new spinach contain far less oxalic acid than those of more mature spinach, and this is an organic substance that can interfere with the absorption of essential nutrients, such as calcium and iron. Oxalic acid binds to calcium, making it unavailable for use by the body.
Like carrots, sweet potatoes are an amazing source of beta-carotene, which the body transforms into vitamin A to fight free radicals. In this way, they not only help the immune system perform its function effectively, but also slow down the aging process, keeping the skin healthy and protecting it from UV radiation.
Other surprising facts? How about the fact that a single medium-sized sweet potato provides about the entire daily requirement of vitamin A and nearly a third of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C? Plus, such a serving contains only 100 calories and is cholesterol and fat free! Strengthening the immune system without worrying about your weight: this is what is called “a win-win situation”!
Fish and meat to boost the immune system
When you had a cold as a child, did your mother and grandmother cook you a special dish? We bet many will give a similar answer: chicken soup! Those wise women knew what they were doing, even though they didn’t know the scientific basis.
Yes, because chicken broth is actually on the list of foods that, as scientifically proven, improve the immune system. This dish, in fact, relieves the symptoms of cold or flu and helps to quickly regain strength. Its secret lies in the ingredients that block mucus production, a process that is stimulated by white blood cells when our upper respiratory tract is attacked by a cold virus. Experts even claim that a particular substance, called carnosine, is responsible for protecting the body from the flu.
And if you don’t have anyone making broth for you when you’re too weak to test your cooking skills, we’ve got some great news for you! Packaged broth has been shown to have almost the same effect as homemade broth! But don’t get used to it! Canned foods often contain salts or flavor enhancers. By preparing your own meals, you can precisely control what you introduce into your body and the amount of a particular ingredient you want to use. Believe us, your immune system likes homemade food so much more!
Tired of roasted or breaded chicken with fries? Then it’s time for something fresh and interesting, like a millet salad, in which poultry goes well with chicory and spinach! Tasty and healthy.
Fatty fish such as tuna or salmon contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which, among the many health benefits, also effectively counteract autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.
In cases of autoimmune diseases, the immune system mistakenly thinks that healthy cells are invading the body and therefore attacks them. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce the risk of these problems or reduce their symptoms.
In the sea there are many super foods and one of the treasures that we absolutely cannot leave out in this article are oysters. They contain selenium, iron, vitamins A and C, lots of proteins and zinc, and provide the body with a rich dose of essential nutrients to maintain the function of the immune system.
When it comes to immunity, vitamins and minerals usually get the most attention, but there are also some often overlooked heroes that deserve mention. One of these is zinc, which ensures the proper functioning of immune cells. In addition to oysters, zinc is also found in crabs, lobsters, and mussels. But care must be taken as an excess of zinc can damage the immune system; the recommended daily amount is about 10 mg.
Other foods that improve the immune system
Rich in antioxidant compounds, ginger root is known for its formidable anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. By eliminating free radicals, which are the result of both metabolic processes and infections, it can effectively protect the body from neurological disorders, cancer, cardiovascular problems and many other serious diseases. Ginger is also a great home remedy for sore throats and nausea.
If you don’t like stir-fried vegetables, you can grate some ginger in hot water to make a great decoction. You can also add it to soups or use it to add a spicy touch to your favorite dessert.
Who would have thought that indulging in dark chocolate can actually strengthen our immune systems, protecting us from the effects of free radicals? This is because, in addition to zinc, it contains several antioxidants:
- Resveratrol contributes to the production of serotonin, the hormone that makes us happy, and fighting stress is essential for having a strong immune system.
- Catechin triggers the release of hormones that actually make the brain work better.
- Also, an antioxidant known as theobromine, found in cocoa, can suppress cough!
But before running to the snack drawer, some rules need to be established:
- While dark chocolate is for sure on the list of foods that strengthen the immune system, milk chocolate does not fall on that list, as it is much more elaborate.
- Due to the high content of calories and saturated fat, dark chocolate should be consumed in moderation.
- Diabetics can eat it too, but no more than 10g per week!
Rich in vitamin E, almonds are a snack that can also help keep the immune system in tip-top shape and even fight colds. It is true that its antiviral powers are not as great as those of vitamin C, but researchers are close to showing that vitamin E can also play a role in fighting colds.
Sunflower seeds are also a rich source of Vitamin E. Perfect as an addition to your bowl of cereal or salad for dinner. If you sprinkle some on your meal, you will add crunchiness to the dish and, at the same time, improve your immune system.
When asked “which foods support the immune system” few think of eggs. But everyone can be wrong. Eggs, especially yolks, are an incredible source of vitamin D, another crucial element in regulating and strengthening the immune response, particularly in preventing upper respiratory tract infections.
And since we care about your health, here’s a tip for cooking a quick meal. Beat some eggs or make an omelette by adding roasted or grilled mushrooms. Mushrooms are rich in zinc, selenium and B vitamins, so they will give your immune system an extra boost.
Choose your favorite foods from those that strengthen the immune system and you will do your body a great favor!
So, have we included in this list all your favorite foods to strengthen your immune system or have we left out any? Either way, the next time you shop for groceries think about what you can do to help your body defend itself to the best of its ability. If you are about to indulge in a delicious vegetable-based snack or a fantastic lunch, this is all the more reason to do it!
1. What foods are good for our immune system?
In addition to fruits and vegetables, poultry, fish, eggs, some nuts (such as almonds), seeds, and even dark chocolate are also good for the immune system.
2. What types of fruit are good for our immune system?
For better protection, it is recommended to eat blueberries, elderberries, citrus fruits, papaya, kiwis, watermelons and tomatoes …
3. What types of vegetables are good for our immune system?
For better protection, experts recommend eating red peppers, broccoli, garlic, spinach, sweet potatoes …
4. What are the recommended meats for our immune system?
In addition to poultry, for better immune defenses, fish, such as salmon, is excellent, rich in omega 3 fatty acids.
5. How can Donat contribute to having a good immune system?
Donat natural mineral water promotes faster digestion, thus preventing the risk of developing various diseases. Since about 80% of the cells of the immune system are found in the intestine, proper and regular digestion is essential for the long-term health of the whole organism.