It’s important to eat a wide variety of foods to ensure that you’re getting all the vitamins and minerals you need to boost your immune health.
Certain foods and food groups contain powerful immune-boosting ingredients that can help you ward off illness and disease. Get started with this list of 17 superfoods to boost your immune system.
17 Superfoods to Boost Your Immune System
Broccoli – This superfood is a favorite because it’s packed with tons of vitamins and minerals including A, C, and E. If you’re looking to boost your immune system, you’ll want to include broccoli on your plate, as it’s also a rich source of fiber and antioxidants. To ensure everything together works to boost your immune system, try to eat it raw or gently steamed.
Papaya – Loaded with Vitamin C, papaya is a great choice for anyone looking to boost their immune system. One medium papaya contains twice the required daily amount of Vitamin C as well as a digestive enzyme, papain, which helps to reduce inflammation.
Ginger – If you’re feeling under the weather or want to boost your immune system, be sure to keep some ginger on hand. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties, which can help a sore throat or inflammatory illnesses like asthma, arthritis, or diabetes.
Yogurt – With high levels of Vitamin D, yogurt can help to regulate your immune system and ward off sickness and disease. Be sure to avoid brands with high levels of sugar, and instead look for plain or Greek yogurts that contain live and active cultures which help stimulate the immune system.
Berries – Berries are the perfect immune-boosting food. Strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are high in antioxidants. Those antioxidants help to protect your healthy cells from damaging molecules. High levels of Vitamin C boosts immunity, and fiber supports good bacteria in your digestive tract.
Sunflower Seeds – Sunflower seeds aren’t just a tasty snack. They’re also high in Vitamin E, which regulates and maintains immune system function. These tasty seeds include Vitamin B6, phosphorus, and magnesium, as well as selenium, which has been shown to combat viral infections.
Lean Protein – Eating lean protein can help to boost your immune system. Protein is important when it comes to building and repairing tissues and muscle. It also boosts immune function by building up antibodies and synthesizing amino acids. Choose from skinless chicken or turkey, beans, tofu, lentils, or white fish like tilapia.
Shellfish – Various shellfish, including crab, lobster, oysters, and mussels, have high levels of zinc, which our bodies need for immune cell function. Be sure to consume shellfish in small amounts, as too much zinc can have the opposite effect, inhibiting how your immune system functions.
Leafy Greens – Leafy greens like spinach, swiss chard, kale, and arugula are packed with infection-fighting nutrients including Vitamin K, Vitamin C, beta carotene, and folate. Just like broccoli, greens are best enjoyed fresh or gently cooked to retain the highest levels of immune boosting nutrients. They also help to support heart health and brain function, so try to get at least two cups per day.
Citrus Fruits – Citrus fruits including oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, tangerines, and clementines are all high in Vitamin C. Because our bodies can’t make or store Vitamin C, it’s important to get your daily amount each day. Vitamin C helps to boost your immune system because it helps increase the production of white blood cells, which are essential to fighting off infections.
Green Tea – Green tea is full of powerful antioxidants including EGCG, which can help to enhance your immune function. Because green tea doesn’t go through the oxidation process, it holds onto the EGCG as well as L-theanine, an amino acid that aids in the production of germ-fighting compounds.
Almonds – If you want to prevent colds and fight off illness, grab a handful of raw almonds. High levels of Vitamin E means that almonds are a great source of antioxidants, which are key to a healthy immune system. They also contain healthy fats which help with Vitamin E’s absorption in the body.
Red Bell Peppers – Red bell peppers are a Vitamin C powerhouse. Just one bell pepper contains three times the amount of Vitamin C found in a single orange. Like citrus fruits, they can help increase white blood cell production, helping our bodies to fight off infections and recover from a cold quicker.
Garlic – Garlic doesn’t just add tons of flavor to any dish, it’s also a great way to boost your immune system. For centuries, it’s been used to help fight off infections. Garlic contains immune-boosting, sulfur-containing compounds, and may also help with hardening of the arteries and high blood pressure.
Turmeric – Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory properties, helping to treat rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. It also contains curcumin, which not only gives turmeric its bright yellow color, but also helps to boost your immune system and acts as an antiviral.
Kiwi – This fuzzy little fruit contains high levels of Vitamin C, which boosts your white blood cell count and helps to fight infection. It also contains nutrients like potassium, folate, and Vitamin K that help to keep your body functioning properly.
Probiotic Foods – Choose probiotic foods if you want a healthy immune system. Yogurt, kefir, kimchi, tempeh, and sauerkraut are all great options. Healthy gut function is tied to immunity, and the good bacteria in these probiotic foods can strengthen your immune cells in your intestinal lining. They help to generate nutrients that are essential for your immune system. Try adding them to your diet two to three times a week.
Be sure to add these 17 superfoods to boost your immune system to your grocery list.
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