The Best Foods to Boost Your Immune System
Regardless of how much exercise you do or how many vitamins and supplements you take, good health and wellbeing starts with a balanced diet. The food you eat has a huge impact on your immune system, so eating the right meals can have a direct impact on how well your body is able to fight infection, fend off viruses and keep you feeling fit and healthy.
If you’re looking for ways to stay healthy and keep your immune system in tip-top shape, here’s a guide on some of the best foods to boost your immune system, with a few recipes thrown in for good measure.
Not only is garlic an essential ingredient in every cuisine throughout the world, it’s chock full of minerals which help bolster the immune system. For thousands of years, garlic has been used as a means of fighting infection, with the cloves containing high amounts of allicin – a sulphur-containing compound which is renowned for its antioxidant properties. It’s also an excellent ingredient for promoting good heart health, with garlic often prescribed to help lower blood pressure.
For a big hit of immune-boosting garlic, try this indulgent chicken recipe from The Hairy Bikers.
The nutritional value of spinach is well publicised for many reasons, not least because it’s one of the very best sources of iron and vitamin C. The presence of the antioxidant beta carotene also means spinach is excellent for immune system health – helping the body fight viruses and infection. To feel the benefit of spinach, you don’t want to cook it for too long, as this brings down the mineral count. Instead, try it in a salad or stir fry it lightly to retain the good stuff which makes it a classic superfood.
To make the most of raw spinach, try it as part of this delicious spinach and halloumi salad.
If you love prawns, crab, lobster, mussels and clams, you’re in luck, because shellfish works wonders for your immune system. Shellfish contains high quantities of zinc, a mineral which helps our immune cells to function. Zinc can be hard to find in some foods, which is why shellfish should be part of a balanced diet. Don’t overdo it, however, as too much zinc in your diet can work the other way. The recommended daily guidelines for zinc intake is 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women.
Get your daily zinc the Italian way with a mouth-watering bowl of crab linguine with chilli and parsley.
Bell peppers are a common ingredient in many cuisines, be it Mexican or Indian, Thai or Italian. That means you can benefit from the fruit’s wealth of vitamins and minerals without changing your diet to suit. Red bell peppers, in particular, are packed with vitamin C, which not only boosts immune function, but promotes skin and hair health. Beta carotene is also present in peppers; just make sure to eat them raw on occasion to benefit from this powerful immune-boosting antioxidant.
For a dish that makes full use of the bell pepper’s potent minerals, try this recipe for Muhammara pepper dip.
The right type of yoghurt can work wonders for your immune system while offering a tasty snack which can help you feel fuller for longer. When buying yoghurt in the supermarket, look for natural varieties (like Greek yoghurt, for example) which contain live and active cultures. These strains of good bacteria not only promote digestive health, but are also excellent for the immune system, providing a great source of antioxidants and vitamin D. Where possible, choose plain yoghurt over flavoured so that it’s not loaded with sugar and preservatives. You can then flavour it yourself with things like honey and frozen fruit.
Looking to build a super breakfast that powers you through to lunch? This matcha breakfast bowl pairs the goodness of yoghurt with the nutrition of fresh fruit and seeds.
Turmeric is everywhere at the moment, be it in fancy coffee shops or a la carte Indian restaurants. Bright yellow and slightly bitter, the spice has been around for centuries, but only recently has its raft of health benefits been discovered. Turmeric is not only great for the immune system, it’s an effective anti-inflammatory which is used in the treatment of muscle damage, arthritis and osteoporosis. Add a dash to your favourite curries, breads, soups and stews to bring an earthy flavour and benefit from its health-boosting properties.
Get your turmeric fix with these beautiful, silky scrambled eggs.
Children may turn their nose up at broccoli, but this is one of the world’s most mineral-enriched foods, and deserves your full respect. A range of vitamins can be found in broccoli stems and florets, as well as fibre, minerals and antioxidants – complementing all-round good health and wellbeing. Like other vegetables, broccoli should be cooked gently to retain as much of its power as possible. Stir-frying is a good way to cook it briefly, while the florets are also delicious broken up over a salad and enjoyed raw.
Benefit from the health-boosting power of broccoli with this fragrant quinoa, squash and broccoli salad.
Like broccoli, ginger is one of those ingredients whose health benefits need little introduction. Used for centuries in medicine and healing, ginger contains a huge number of vitamins and minerals, which make it a winner whether you’re consuming it as part of a dinner, dessert or in a cup of tea. The benefits of ginger are seemingly endless, from easing a sore throat to reducing feelings of nausea; keep some in your fridge for when you need a little lift.
Savour the wonderful taste of ginger with this indulgent lime and ginger drizzle cake.
Chicken is by far the most popular meat in the UK, which is a good thing when you consider its associated health benefits. White meat from poultry contains a huge number of vitamins, including vitamin B-6, which promotes blood health. What’s more, there’s a reason chicken soup is so good for a cold or flu; the chondroitin, gelatine and other nutrients found in chicken stock and broth are wonderful for the immune system and for the health of the gut.
Comfort, warmth and good health in a single bowl; try this delicious chicken soup recipe.
Oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, tangerines – you name it, citrus fruits have it. Citruses are packed with minerals and vitamins, as well as essential oils that bolster immune health. Of course, the biggest plus point of citrus fruits is their vitamin C content, which helps with immune function while promoting the production of white blood cells. Adding citrus to your favourite dishes is easy, and can really bring the flavour of your food to life.
Savour the lip-smacking flavour of citrus with this Mediterranean-inspired spaghetti with lemon and olives recipe.
Sticking to a balanced, healthy diet is easy when you have the right tools in your kitchen. Breville’s range of easy-to-use kitchen appliances and cookware make it easy to rustle up a healthy plate, so you and your family can enjoy tasty, balanced food that’s good for the body. Check out our blog for more cooking tips and inspiration, or visit the homepage for our full range of products.