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5 Healthy Foods to Boost Your Immune System

By Isny Dewi R

23 April 2020

Five expert-approved foods to stock up to help boost your immune system.

In the midsFive expert-approved foods to stock up to help boost your immune system.t of pandemic like now, taking daily precautions such as washing your hands, physical distancing, exercising and getting enough sleep is key to lowering risk of infection. But maintaining a healthy diet to help boost your immune system may also give you an edge.

It’s important to note that no research has been done on foods that help fight against COVID-19 specifically. However, previous studies have found that eating certain foods can improve your health and strengthen your body’s ability to fight other invasive viruses.

Here are five expert-approved foods to stock up, along with best ways to cook them:

1. Broccoli
According to National Institutes of Health (NIH) broccoli is rich in vitamin C. “Broccoli is packed with phytochemicals and antioxidants that support our immune system,” says Dr. Seema Sarin, an internal medicine physician at EHE Health, quoted from CNBC Make It. It also contains vitamin E, an antioxidant that can help fight off bacteria and viruses.

“To get the most out of this powerhouse vegetable, eat it raw or just slightly cooked,” says Sarin. You can sauteing broccoli with garlic and Parmesan, or stir-frying with bell peppers, ginger, garlic and mushrooms.

2. Chickpeas
Chickpeas contain a lot of protein, an essential nutrient made of amino acids that help grow and repair the body’s tissues. It’s also involved in synthesizing and maintaining enzymes to keep our systems functioning properly, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

“Chickpeas are also packed with zinc, which helps the immune system control and regulate immune responses,” Emily Wunder, a dietitian and founder of the nutritious recipes site Healthier Taste, quoted from CNBC Make It.

Roasted chickpeas are great as a quick great snack or salad topper. Make sure they’re completely dry before roasting. Then add a few tablespoons of oil (vegetable, canola or grapeseed oil) and bake, stirring halfway through until they’re crispy. For a nice kick, Wunder suggests adding some salt and paprika.

3. Strawberries
Half a cup of strawberries contains 50% of your vitamin C needs for the day. “Vitamin C is great for strengthening your immune system,” Wunder says, because it can help protect cells from damage caused by free radicals that we’re often exposed to in the environment.

You can adding chopped strawberries to yogurt, oatmeal or on top of whole wheat toast with peanut butter.

4. Garlic
“Not only is garlic full of flavor, but it’s packed with health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and reducing risk of heart disease,” according to Sarin. “Garlic’s immunity-boosting abilities come from its heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, which can help fight off some infections.”

Garlic has been shown in the past to help ward off the common cold. In a 2001 study published in Advances in Therapy, participants who took garlic supplements were less likely to catch a cold. And those who did get infected recovered faster than participants in the placebo group.

You can add garlic to anything — from pasta sauce and salad dressings to soups and stir-fry dishes. Sarin suggests aiming to consume two to three cloves per day.

5. Spinach
“Spinach is rich in vitamin C and full of antioxidants that help shield our immune cells from environmental damage,” says Sarin. “Plus, it has beta carotene, which is the main dietary source of vitamin A — an essential component of proper immune function.”

Like broccoli, it’s best to consume spinach raw or slightly cooked. Sarin suggests blending it in a smoothie, cooking it with your morning eggs or, as an easy side dish, lightly sauteing with garlic.

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