​Foods That Strengthen Our Immune System

As we start heading into fall, it's a great time to support our immune system for the winter season. We can start with our diet and add supplements as needed. Here are some foods that are packed with antioxidants and important nutrients.
When we think about foods rich in vitamin C, we think about citrus. But 1 cup of chopped bell peppers delivers almost 300% of our daily value (DV). A whole papaya also delivers over 300%. Other foods that deliver 100% or more of our daily value include 1 cup of broccoli, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, or cantaloupe.
Finding zinc in foods can be challenging. The food highest in zinc is calf’s liver. Just 4 oz of calf’s liver can deliver 72% DV. Another meat high in zinc is beef tenderloin, which contains 42% DV. It’s important to note that fruits contain little to no zinc, but vegetables, such as 5 oz of crimini or shiitake mushrooms delivers around 10% DV. One-quarter cup of pumpkin seeds or sesame seeds offer 17% and 19%, respectively.
Our immune system needs vitamin A, and, fortunately, many foods contain it. Spinach and broccoli are good sources of vitamin A. In order to maximize this immune supportive nutrient, lightly cook these vegetables, steam them or better yet, eat them raw.
Most orange-colored produce is an excellent source of vitamin A. Options include cantaloupe, carrots, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and orange bell peppers.
Vitamin E is also important for our immune system. Avocado is a great source of vitamin E and can be added to salads and sandwiches. Nuts and seeds are also good sources of this powerful antioxidant. Use them whenever on a salad, in yogurt, or in pancakes.
With so many choices, supporting our immune system with an array of delicious food is very attainable. We can start our day with a couple slices of cantaloupe and later snack on strips of orange bell pepper or carrot sticks and hummus. For lunch, we can have a spinach salad with crimini mushrooms and sesame seeds. For dinner, we can enjoy a 4 oz. beef tenderloin with lightly steamed broccoli and a sweet potato.
Follow these tips to strengthen immunity all winter long.