Flu season in the U.S. tends to peak between December and February, so now is the perfect time to start including more immune-boosting foods in your diet. Vitamins–especially beta carotene and vitamins C, D, and E–help your body resist illness. Folate, manganese, riboflavin, iron and zinc can also help your body fight off the winter ick.
Of course, no diet is going to make you 100 percent cold–and flu-proof, but eating these foods for immune health may help you avoid sickness. If you do get sick, arming your body with the nutrients it needs can help you get better faster.
10 Foods for Immune Health
Pumpkin and other yellow or orange winter squash provide a good mix of vitamin A along with soluble fiber, folate, manganese, and riboflavin to help boost your immune system.
A cup of cooked spinach provides 5 percent of your daily zinc requirements. It also has 377 percent of your vitamin A, 29 percent of your vitamin C, and 19 percent of your vitamin E. Spinach is very high in iron, but it also contains a compound that makes it hard for your body to absorb. Look to other foods for your immune-boosting iron.
3. Pumpkin Seeds
When you cook up that immune-boosting pumpkin, roast the seeds for extra cold and flu-fighting power. An ounce of roasted pumpkin or winter squash seeds has 19 percent of your zinc requirements.
Blueberries are a superfood rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants that help protect your body from illness.
Button mushrooms may look unassuming, but they’re actually a very good source of flu-fighting vitamin D, riboflavin and manganese.
A cup of cooked black beans provides 13 percent of your daily zinc. Black beans – and other beans – are also a good source of manganese, folate, iron, and soluble fiber.
7. Blackstrap Molasses
Molasses is rich in immune-boosting iron. Maybe that’s why molassesy gingerbread is such a popular fall and winter flavor!
Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are good sources of vitamins A, C, and E. They’re also a good source of folate, manganese, and iron. Broccoli in particular, though has been shown to contain a compound called DIM that supports immune health.
You know that a steamy cup of tea helps soothe some of your cold and flu symptoms, but did you know that a cuppa could also help prevent illness? A 2003 study found that tea contains compounds that help your body fight germs and viruses.
Kombucha contain probiotics which help support your body’s immune system. If kombucha isn’t your speed, try adding other fermented foods like kimchi, sauerkraut, or miso to your diet this fall and winter.