26 Foods to Eat to Boost Immunity

Written by Mayella Vasquez | Edited by: Jessica Tishue

These 26 foods will ensure that your immune system is in top-notch shape all year round. Especially with the whole COVID pandemic, we need to eat to boost our immunity more now than ever. 

Good news though! You may have many of these immune-boosting foods at home, but may have never realized how effective these foods are for fighting off germs, sickness, and doctor visits.   

Below you will find delicious immune-boosting recipes with these 26 immune-boosting foods to help you supercharge your life and your immune system!

1: Citrus Fruits

Citrus Fruits are full of Vitamin C, which helps you boost your immune system. Why? Vitamin C increases white blood cells’ production, which is key to fighting infections. It is important to note that your body doesn’t produce or store vitamin C, this is why eating foods rich in Vitamin C is essential for continued health and to boost your immunity. The recommended daily amount of Vitamin C for most adults is: 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men. (1)    

Popular citrus fruits include:

Click Here for Citrus Salad with Orange-Flower Water, Pistachios, and Pomegranate Seeds

Click Here for 24 mouth-watering, immune-boosting citrus recipes. 

***(Sans the Blood Orange Jello Shots recipe because alcohol compromises your immune system, and increases the risk for adverse health outcomes).

  

2: Bell Pepper

Did you know that red bell peppers contain almost 3 times as much vitamin C as a Florida orange? They’re also a rich source of beta carotene. Beta carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A, helps keep your eyes and skin in tiptop shape — in addition to boosting your immune system.

This antioxidant unleashes the activity of phagocytes: immune cells that “swallow” nasty bacteria. Yum! Vitamin C also activates your lymphocytes, a type of immune cell that can attack enemies in your blood. (1) (2)

Click Here for an absolutely delicious and immune-boosting Stuffed Bell Pepper Recipe 

And Here for: 25 Creative & Healthy Ways to Cook with Bell Peppers. 

    3: Spinach

    Spinach is abundant in vitamin C, as well as numerous antioxidants and beta carotene. Both which increase the infection-fighting ability of your immune system. If you want to really boost your immune system, it is important to retain the nutrients in your spinach by lightly steaming or cooking it. However, light cooking makes it easier to for the body to absorb the pre-vitamin A.(1)

    Click Here for this Healthy Creamed Spinach Recipe (vegan & paleo).


    And Here for 36 Sensational Immune-Boosting Spinach Recipes

      4: Broccoli

      Broccoli is loaded with vitamins and minerals such as A, C, and E, as well as fiber and many other antioxidants. Like spinach, the key to keeping the power of broccoli intact — is to cook it as little as possible. Steaming is the best way to maximize the nutrients in broccoli.

      Click Here for An Immune-Boosting Broccoli Chowder


      And Here for 24 Stunning Recipes That Will Change the Way you Think About Broccoli

        5: Chicken

        Poultry, such as chicken and turkey, are bountiful in vitamin B-6. B-6 is essential for many of your body’s core functions. Chicken is also a significant source of protein, fat, and carbohydrates, which improves your metabolism, red blood cells, and neurotransmitters. 

        Vitamin B-6 is also a key player in more than 100 enzyme reactions, including those that your immune system needs to function properly.

        Want to boost your immune-system with chicken? Classic chicken soup is an excellent meal for boosting your immune system and supercharging your body with B-6. A healthy chicken soup also has the power to lower inflammation, and fight off cold symptoms. 

        Did you know that cooked chicken releases cysteine, an amino acid that, on the chemical level, looks like the bronchitis drug acetylcysteine? (1) (2) 

        Click Here for a heart-warming, immune-boosting Chicken Soup Recipe

        And Here for 57 world-inspired Chicken Recipes to keep your taste buds and immune system jumping for joy!

          6: Salmon

          The Omega 3 in salmon, (particularly DHA and EPA, which are two forms found in cold-water fish) are vital for eliminating inflammation. In turn, less inflammation allows the immune system to focus more if its attention is on defending the body against pathogens and fighting illness. 

          Salmon or light tuna in water, are fish that are good sources of vitamin D and the antioxidant mineral selenium. Two nutrients that also boost immunity, and keep you healthy on the regular. (3)

          Click Here for a delicious and nutritious Honey Garlic Salmon Recipe
          And Here for 45 Ways to Cook Salmon

          7: Yogurt

          Consuming yogurt with “active, live cultures,” and low sugar is an excellent way to boost immune health.

          Research done on the probiotics, or good bacteria, in yogurt, suggests that the immune system and microbiome work with one another to target pathogens and to fine-tune immune responses. Having an imbalance of good bacteria hampers your immune system and overall health.

          Yogurt can also be a great source of vitamin D if you select brands fortified with this vitamin. Vitamin D helps regulate the immune system, and boosts mood as well as our boost body’s natural defenses against diseases. (1) (3)

          Click Here to Learn How to Make Yogurt
          And Here for 50 Healthy Ways to Use Yogurt in Recipes

          8: Ginger

          Ginger has been known to decrease inflammation, which is helpful when you have a sore throat or inflammatory illnesses such as Chron’s and Rheumatoid Arthritis.

          Gingerol is the active ingredient in ginger, and has been proven to fight infections. Along with gingerol, there’s evidence that other compounds like shogaol and parasol contribute to the anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and anti-oxidative benefits of this powerful root. (1) (2)

          Click Here to Learn How to Make Ginger Tea 

          And Here to Learn about 100 Ways to Use Fresh Ginger Root

          9: Green Tea

          Green tea (as well as black tea) contain a type of antioxidant known as a flavonoid. Additionally, green tea has high epigallocatechin gallate levels (EGCG), another powerful antioxidant that has been shown to boost immunity.

          The amino acid L-theanine is also found in Green tea. L-theanine aids in the production of germ-fighting compounds in your T cells, a kind of white blood cells.

          Green tea also works by reducing free radicals from forming in your body, which protects your cells from damage due to limiting the amount of free radical atoms that are generated. Green tea is also  considered anti-inflammatory. (1) (2) 

          Click Here if you want to make some Naturally Sweetened Iced Green Tea  

          And Here for 10 Immune-Boosting Green Tea Recipes

            10: Miso Soup

            Miso is made from fermented soybeans, and is full of probiotics that boost immunity.  

            Did you know that probiotics keep your gut health in superior shape? Out-of-balance gut bacteria is associated with issues such as IBS, food allergies, and even some cancers; 70 percent of your immune system is in your stomach, making balanced gut bacteria important for a robust immune system. (2)


            Click Here for an Immune-Boosting Miso Soup Recipe

            11: Acai

            Açai is high in antioxidants. Specifically: anthocyanin, found in these little berries’ skin, help neutralize free radicals, or toxic molecules that may cause cell damage. (2)

            Click Here for a yummy and Immune-Boosting Acai Bowl Recipe

            12: Powerful Pomegranates

            Pomegranates contain punicalagin, an antioxidant found in the juice and the peel. Did you know that punicalagin has three times more antioxidants than red wine or  even green tea?

             Pomegranates are also anti-inflammatory and have been known to be antifungal and antibacterial. In addition to containing high levels of vitamin C and E. (2) 

            Click Here if you want to know How to Seed and Juice a Pomegranate 

            And Here for 20 Healthy Pomegranate Recipes

              13: Watermelon

              Watermelon is chock-full of vitamin C, lycopene, carotenoids (like beta carotene that converts to vitamin A). As well as cucurbitacin E –an anti-inflammatory plant compound. (2)


              Click Here for the 10 Best Healthy Watermelon Recipes to Make this Summer

              14: Sunflower Seeds

              Did you know that sunflower seeds are full of nutrients, including phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamins B-6 and E? As we mentioned previously, Vitamin E is important in regulating and boosting immunity.

              Click Here for a scrumptious Sunflower Seed Protein Ball Recipe to supercharge your day!

              And Here for 15 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do with Sunflower Seeds

                15: Tumeric

                Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory superfood that has been used to treat both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Additionally, curcumin, a naturally-occurring chemical compound in turmeric, helps decrease exercise-induced muscle damage and boost immunity. (1)

                Click Here for an Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric Tea Recipe

                And Here for 20 Tasty Turmeric Recipes to Spice Up Your Life

                16: Dark Chocolate

                Dark chocolate contains an antioxidant known as theobromine. Theobromine boosts immunity by protecting the body’s cells from free radicals (or molecules that the body produces when it breaks down food or comes into contact with pollutants). Did you know that free radicals damage the body’s cells and contribute to disease? (4)

                Click Here to learn how to make refined sugar-free DIY Dark Chocolate Almonds Bars

                Or shop online at our favorite (most delicious, healthy, and unique) organic dark chocolate makers:

                  17: Sweet Potatoes

                  Did you know that sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene? Beta carotene is a powerful source of vitamin A, which is essential for the development and  regulation of your immune system. To boost your immunity, sweet potatoes deliver three powerful antioxidants: anthocyanin, chlorogenic acid, and beta carotene, which converts to vitamin A, the “anti-inflammatory vitamin.” (2) (4)

                  Sweet Potatoes are also full of fiber and healthy minerals, and are a healthy source of vitamin C. 

                  Click Here for an Immune-Boosting Oven-Roaster Sweet Potato Recipe

                  And Here for 24 Flavor-Packed Sweet Potato Recipes

                  18: Garlic

                  Garlic boosts immunity, due to its germ-fighting compounds and allicin. There seems to be a link between the sulfur-containing compound, allicin in garlic’s immune-boosting properties. In addition to allicin, diallyl disulfide, and S-Allyl cysteine are released when garlic is crushed, chewed, or chopped. 

                  These compounds give white blood cells a disease-fighting boost and reduce the severity of colds and flu. (1) (2)

                  Click Here to learn how to make Garlic Roasted Mushrooms

                   And Here for 14 Garlicky Good Recipes

                  19: Almonds

                  Want to boost your immunity? Then eat almonds because almonds contain vitamin E, which helps fight infections, as well as manganese, magnesium, and fiber. (2) (4)

                  Click Here for a sensational Sesame Honey Roasted Almond Recipe


                  And Here for 14 other slightly sweet Almond Recipes

                    20: Kiwi

                    Did you know that one cup of kiwi contains 237 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C?  Wowzers! 

                    Kiwis also are a plenteous source of potassium, folate, and vitamin K. (2)

                    Click Here for 16 Recipes That Will Make you Fall in Love with Kiwis

                      21: Peanut Butter

                      Peanut butter is packed with micronutrients such as magnesium, and contains the macronutrient potassium. Additionally, a few tablespoons of peanut butter meet your daily need for zinc. 

                      When it comes to peanut butter, be sure to buy peanut butter WITHOUT sugar, which can lead to inflammation. (3) 


                      Click Here to learn how to make Homemade Peanut Butter in 5 Minutes (sweetened with honey).

                        22: Papaya

                        Papaya is loaded with vitamin C. Papayas also has a digestive enzyme called papain with anti-inflammatory effects and good amounts of potassium, magnesium, and folate.

                        Papaya seeds also have antioxidant compounds like polyphenols and flavonoids, antioxidants which help regulate cellular activity and fight off free radicals, and can help destroy some infection-causing fungi. (1) (2)


                        Click Here for 12 Healthy Papaya Recipes

                          23: Mushrooms

                          Mushrooms are a good source of vitamin D and of a variety of immune-boosting antioxidants, including vitamin C, polyphenols, selenium, polysaccharides, glutathione, and ergothioneine. Mushrooms are also bountiful in selenium and B vitamins like riboflavin and niacin, and are necessary for boosting the immune system. Mushrooms are also high in polysaccharides, sugar-like molecules that boost immune function. (2) (6)


                          Click Here to make Sweet Potato Bowls with Spiced Lamb and Mushrooms

                            24: Eggs

                            Did you know that protein supports your immune response? Eggs are full of protein, as well as vitamin D, zinc, selenium, and vitamin E that the body needs for proper immune functioning. (3)

                              25: Elderberry

                              Elderberry extract has antiviral, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory properties. Elderberry is also high in flavonoids, an antioxidant. This plant medicine works by reducing swelling in mucus membranes. (6) 


                              Click Here for a Homemade Elderberry Syrup Recipe (Potent Cold & Flu Remedy)

                              26: Oysters on the   Menu

                              Did you know that a 3-ounce serving of oysters provides 190% of the daily value of selenium, 45% of the daily value of iron, and 20% of the daily value of vitamin C? It gets better, a 3-ounce serving of oysters is also a good source of high-quality protein, and provide zinc and vitamin A. (6)

                              If you enjoyed learning about food that boost immunity, check out this blog “10 Environmentally-Friendly Proteins…that Actually Taste Good,” to learn more about how food can heal your body and our planet one meal at a time.

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