The immune system describes the processes within our bodies that help protect against pathogens and disease. With many of our favorite restaurants now closed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, you might find yourself scrambling to learn new ways to cook healthy, disease-preventing meals at home. For those also impacted financially by current times, a smaller grocery budget makes it more important than ever to know which foods give the biggest “health bang” for your buck.
We hold this truth to be self-evident: that all food is not created equal. If you have the means, fill your shopping cart with immune-boosting “superfoods” that can help protect your body from illness.What makes a superfood so super? Superfoods are antioxidant-rich foods high in vitamins and minerals that often rank well on the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) scale. The ORAC scale measures a plant food’s ability to neutralize free radicals and assist in disease prevention.
On your next store run, look for the 10 immune-boosting foods below. Your body will thank you!
High in calcium to help protect and strengthen bones, broccoli is an excellent source of selenium and vitamin C. Look for broccoli with heads rich in color!
Garlic bulbs are a useful antibiotic, and are a natural antiviral and antifungal. If eaten regularly, garlic can be a good source of vitamin C, selenium and potassium. If you’re worried about “garlic breath,” eating parsley shortly after can reduce any odor.
Consider eating more grapefruits. An excellent source of vitamin C, grapefruit boosts the immune system and can help reduce bouts of wheezing in asthma-prone individuals.
Lemons are rich in vitamin C, and can help protect the body against certain cancers. Lemons contain an oil called limonene, a terpene rich in antioxidants and cancer-fighting properties.
Mushrooms contain compounds that can boost the immune system and help protect against cancers, infections, and certain auto-immune diseases.
Oranges are known for their immune-boosting properties – the result of a high abundance of vitamin C. Vitamin C is an antioxidant vitamin that protects from various signs of aging, cell damage and disease.
Oysters promote wound-healing and are known for their immune-boosting properties. Rich in zinc, oysters can boost fertility and promote skin health. The high concentration of iron can boost energy levels and increase the body’s resistance to infection.
One of the richest fruits in potassium, papayas are extremely high in vitamin C and fiber. Papayas are also high in carotene, which is linked to cancer prevention.
Red Bell Peppers
Red bell peppers are extremely rich in vitamin C, and a great source of vitamins, minerals and health-promoting plant compounds. The carotenes in red bell peppers are more bioavailable once cooked in a small amount of oil.
Turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory. Curcumin is said to be the main health-promoting compound in turmeric, known for its antioxidant properties.
Generally speaking, a healthy diet consists of 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, 2-3 servings of whole grains, and 2-3 servings of lean protein (animal or plant-derived). Oily fish, adequate hydration, nuts and seeds, and plant-based oils and spices are also important considerations.
We hope you can find time to create wholesome new habits for you and your family — habits that will strengthen your immune system and make quarantine a bit more enjoyable!