Amid the global pandemic, the focus on health and immunity has increased substantially, with kadhas and superfoods gaining prominence in everyday meals. Here are 10 common and super effective immunity-boosting kitchen ingredients that you can incorporate into your daily meals. By Akriti Sharma
A well-balanced diet rich in nutrition-dense foods is key to strengthening one’s immune system. And with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is especially important to supercharge your immunity with immunity-boosting foods that nourish your body and prepare your white blood cells to fight infections.
Check out this list of 10 immunity-boosting foods that can improve your immune system with their antioxidant properties.
Red bell peppers
Red bell peppers are an excellent source of Vitamin C and contain thrice the amount of the vitamin (around 127 mg) than a Florida orange (45 mg).
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that boosts the immune system and fights cell damage. Bell peppers are also rich in beta carotene, which the body converts into Vitamin A to keep our eyes and skin healthy.
Eating one red bell pepper, either cooked or raw (say, in a salad), can provide more than the daily recommended dose of Vitamin C. It is also an excellent replacement for citrus fruits if you’re looking to avoid fruit sugar.
Broccoli is among the most potent superfoods on the planet. Packed with vitamins A, C and E, the vegetable helps arm your immune system against seasonal infections. It is also a great source of two powerful antioxidants—lutein and sulforaphane—which help in building the body’s immune response. The best way to consume this immunity-boosting food is by cooking it as little as possible, steaming it or eating it raw.
Blueberries are sometimes called the king of antioxidant fruits due to their high polyphenol content. They are rich in anthocyanin, which is a type of flavonoid that has antioxidant properties. It boosts the immune system of the respiratory tract. Blueberries also contain pterostilbene, which helps prevent flu, colds and seasonal infections. Research suggests that people who consume flavonoids are less prone to catching a cold or getting upper respiratory tract infections.
Spinach not only contains Vitamin C but also has several powerful antioxidants and beta carotene to improve the ability of our immune system to fight infections. Flash cook spinach or consume raw or steamed to get the maximum nutrients from it.
Garlic has long been used as a flavour-enhancer in meals. Its immunity-boosting properties come from its sulphur-containing compounds such as allicin that ward off viruses and infection-causing bacteria in the body. Supplementing your diet with three to four cloves of garlic a day can help you benefit from its anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit, limes and tangerines are popular choices for people to get their daily dose of Vitamin C, especially when the season changes. This is because our body does not produce this vitamin naturally. Vitamin C in citrus fruits helps ward off infections and prevents common cold or flu. A small glass of orange juice or an entire grapefruit can amount to 70 to 90 mg of Vitamin C, which is the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for most adults.
Almonds are rich in Vitamin E, which is a key antioxidant to keep the immune system healthy. They also contain manganese, magnesium, zinc and fibre. Half a cup of almonds has around 15 mg of Vitamin E, which is almost 100 per cent of the RDA. You can snack on them or add them to your smoothies.
Sunflower seeds contain high-quality nutrients such as selenium, phosphorus, magnesium and antioxidants such as vitamins E and B6 that help boost immunity. Vitamin E can do wonders for your skin, eyes and immune health, while selenium is effective against viral infections such as H1N1. Sunflower seeds make for a tasty snack and are a great addition to breakfast and salad bowls.
Green tea bolsters the immune system due to its high concentration of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a powerful antioxidant. Although both green and black tea contain EGCG, it is well-preserved in green tea as it is less processed and contains less caffeine than other teas. Green tea also contains L-theanine, a key amino acid that boosts immunity by increasing the number of T cells of the immune system.
Some types of shellfish such as oysters, crabs, clams and lobsters are loaded with high amounts of zinc, proteins and healthy fats. Most of the fat is in the form of Omega-3s, which has been shown to decrease inflammation and enhance the immune system. Zinc, on the other hand, helps fight off foreign pathogens in the body and has an important role in healing wounds. Oysters have more zinc content in them than any other shellfish.