Being Well

Immune-Boosting Foods: Delicious Meals to Keep You Healthy

Jump start your day, and your immune system, by whipping up a green tea blueberry smoothie.

This year’s flu season has been especially brutal, and everyone is looking for ways to stay as healthy as possible. For individuals caring for someone with a compromised immune system, immune-boosting foods can be one extra layer of protection to get through the rest of these germy months.

Fortunately, choosing foods that have immune-boosting capabilities can be a delicious and comforting way to stay healthy. Check out a few choice comfort foods and consider making double to take to a friend who could use the immunity boost too.

Ginger Spinach Soup

Soup is an excellent go-to menu item, and is versatile enough to be frozen in individual servings. Try this recipe from Genius Kitchen for an immune system supercharge, and once you get the hang of the recipe, you can add in more of your favorite vegetables and seasonings.

Ingredients like ginger are natural antibiotics, garlic contains a compound that increases white blood cell response to germs, while chicken broth has potassium and sodium to keep your electrolytes in balance. An extra bonus of this soup? It tastes great.

Blueberry and Green Tea Smoothie

Perfect for either a power breakfast, or for a refreshing treat for sore mouths due to chemotherapy, smoothies are a healthy meal or snack choice. Throw immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory ingredients like blueberries, green tea, yogurt and almonds in a blender.

Green tea and blueberries are chock-full of polyphenols, potent plant antioxidants that can increase immune health and help beat certain flu viruses. Make your tea ahead of time and keep a pitcher in the refrigerator to make preparation easier; cold blueberries right from the freezer also contribute to a creamy texture.

Fruit Salad

Keep your fruit bowl stocked with citrus, berries and apples. Citrus contains high quantities of vitamin C, but they are not the only super fruit. According to an article published in Nutritional Journal, apples contain an antioxidant called quercetin, which has been shown to fortify the immune system, especially when you are stressed out or worn down.

Berries also contain large amounts of vitamin C as well as antioxidants that help to repair cell damage. Fix fruit salad with orange wedges, blueberries and apple slices as a healthy snack or top oatmeal with chunks of your favorite fruits. Keep a lemon handy to squeeze into your ginger or green tea as well!

Stir-fry

You can whip up stir-fry with any vegetable and protein combination, making it the perfect dinner option when you’re cleaning out your fridge at the end of the week. Try to incorporate veggies like broccoli and spinach, or any dark green vegetable, as these superfoods contain not only a large amount of vitamin C, but also are full of antioxidants that specialize in fighting infection and regenerating other antioxidants in the body, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.

For protein, consider shellfish as this ingredient is packed with zinc. Grate in fresh ginger and add a scrambled egg (full of zinc and selenium, wonderful immune system supporters) to increase the nutrient value and elevate the taste.

Incorporating immune-boosting foods into your regular diet is easy once you get the hang of it. Not only will your food taste delicious, you will notice more energy and a decreased need for tissues. Bon appétit!

Eating healthy is crucial to staying healthy. For more information about maximizing your diet, reach out to the UVA Nutrition Center.

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Haley Burress
Haley Burress