From watermelon to oysters, these top immune boosting foods are rich in nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants that help support the immune system and ward off disease and infection.
The immune system is the system in your body that fights off disease and infection. In the perfect scenario, you won’t know it’s working since it will stop anything before it affects you.
The stronger your immune system, the better off you will be if and when you do get sick. There are a number of ways to boost the immune system. One powerful (and easy) way is through the foods we eat.
To ensure a balanced immune system, focus on an overall healthy lifestyle — one that limits or avoids smoking, stress, and alcohol and concentrates on a nutritious diet and exercise.
Immune boosting foods include fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds that are rich in nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants.
Here are the top 13 foods to boost your immune system. Include them in your daily diet and explore our recipe and cooking suggestions.
When people think of immune boosting foods, citrus is usually the first to come to mind. Why is that? It’s all in the vitamin C. Vitamin C helps to increase the production of infection-fighting white blood cells. It’s also a great thing that citrus comes in such a delicious, colorful variety. Choose from grapefruit, oranges, lemons, limes, tangerines, blood orange, yuzu, and more.
Broccoli is known as being a power player in the healthy food game. It is filled with nutrients — including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, antioxidants, and fiber. All of these items help you build up your internal defenses. The best way to reap broccoli’s benefits is by gently cooking it (or, even better, eating it raw). Science shows that steaming it is a great choice!
Many people turn to ginger ale when they get sick for a reason. Ginger is known to help settle the stomach. Even more important when it comes to your immune system, it also has anti-inflammatory properties.
Many people think of oysters as an aphrodisiac, but they’re great for the immune system, too. Oysters contain high levels of zinc. Zinc is a powerful nutrient that is associated with our blood. In fact, it helps regulate white blood cells — the cells responsible for fighting infections and disease.
Try It: Garlic Oysters
Acai berries are sometimes known as a superfood due to their high levels of antioxidants. The dark color of the berries come from the anthocyanins, a specific antioxidant. This antioxidant fights free radicals, lowers inflammation, and boosts immunity.
Try It: Acai Bowl (4 Variations)
Garlic is a favorite ingredient for many chefs. You may need to brush your teeth after a garlic-rich meal, but you can bet it tasted good. Garlic can also help your immune system, thanks to its germ-fighting compounds and allicin. Bonus: Garlic is also known for helping skin problems and can help control your cholesterol.
Try It: Roasted Garlic (to use in everything!)
Popeye ate spinach to gain strength and kids have been avoiding it since the beginning of time. While it’s not necessarily going to make your muscles larger from one can, it will give you a good amount of vitamin C. As we know, vitamin C is known to help boost the immune system.
Try It: Powerhouse Potassium Smoothie
One of the things you need when consuming nutrients is the right amount of fat to absorb them. Vitamin E, in particular, requires the fat in your system to pick up the nutrients and get them where they need to go. Almonds have both healthy fat and a large amount of vitamin E (an antioxidant).
Try It: Raw Almond Cocao Energy Bites
We’re not asking you to give up your coffee, but have you thought of incorporating some more green tea? Black tea is fermented, which takes away some of the antioxidants. Green tea isn’t fermented, so most of the antioxidants stay in the tea. Additionally, the L-theanine found in green tea aids in the production of germ-fighting compounds and helps support human T cells.
Try It: Honey Matcha Smoothie Bowl
Sunflower seeds may be small, but they are quite mighty. Sunflower seeds contain phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamin B. However, the most important thing they have is the vitamin E. As previously noted, vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant and important nutrient for supporting the immune system.
Did you know that bell peppers contain triple the amount of vitamin C compared to oranges? In fact, you can get over 150% of your daily recommended vitamin C from just a half-cup of bell peppers. Infection-fighting vitamin C increases the production of antibodies and white blood cells.
Try It: Vegan Italian Stuffed Peppers
This delicious summertime staple contains loads of potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Watermelon also contains lycopene (the culprit for its red color) which helps reduce respiratory inflammation. Tip: It’s ideal to eat the fleshy part of the watermelon close to the rind to get the most nutrients.
There’s a reason that people eat chicken soup when they get sick. The chicken soup seems to keep the white blood cells in the right spot and acts as an anti-inflammatory. Plus, let’s not forget: Warm chicken soup is good for the soul.
The things we put into our body make a big difference in the way our body performs. The body has a large responsibility to help us stay healthy when exposed to disease. Give your body the fuel it needs to do this effectively by feeding it the immune boosting foods mentioned above.
(And don’t forget to take extra precautions, avoid people who aren’t feeling well, and wash those hands!)
We hope you found some delicious inspiration from our top immune boosting foods! Which fruit, vegetable, nut, or seed on this list is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below!