8 Foods to Boost Your Immune System & Tasty Ways to Prepare Them

October 02, 2018 | Food Lion
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Complete the following sentences: An ______ a day keeps the doctor away. For a cold, nothing's better than grandma's ____________. 

Have you ever stopped to think why these foods (an apple a day; grandma’s soup) have become commonly associated with health? If not, we've got some answers for you! And not only will we break down the health benefits of apples and grandma's chicken soup, but you'll also learn six other foods to boost your immune system. That’s a total of eight immune-boosting foods! 

But, we won’t stop there. We’re also serving up tasty ways you can prepare these foods for your loved ones and help keep your whole family safe and healthy.

1. Garlic

This herb is used in countless entrees and side dishes because of its flavor-packed tastiness. But, many do not know that garlic can boost your immune system too. That’s right! It all comes down to a certain compound called allicin. This is what helps your immune system fight off germs and viruses. 

Here’s the thing - there’s a specific way to prepare garlic to ensure you and your family are absorbing that compound. Simply tossing minced garlic and cooking it on high heat will deactivate that compound. You of course still get to enjoy the delicious garlic flavor, but the immune-boosting benefit will be lacking. 

So, how do you prepare garlic to maintain the health benefits? All you have to do is slice or crush the garlic, then let it sit out for 10 minutes prior to cooking. 

Now, let’s see some recipe inspiration with garlic


Sauteed Spinach With Garlic

This quick and easy recipe not only includes garlic, but the star ingredient is also another immune-boosting food! It’s true - spinach is loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants. So, get your baby spinach and garlic ready, and double-check that you have the following ingredients on-hand:

  • Olive oil

  • Kale

  • Chard

  • Onion powder

  • Salt & pepper

  • Apple cider vinegar

  • Chopped pecans

To make this healthy side dish, simply heat the oil in a pan, toss in the kale, chard, spinach and garlic. Sautee, season and voila! Learn more about making this dish on our recipe portal.

2. Peppers

Citrus is known for vitamin C, but peppers contain more. In fact, bell peppers contain the highest amount of vitamin C at over 100 milligrams per serving. So for extra cold-fighting power, liberally add sliced bell peppers to stir fries and fajitas.

What’s so amazing about vitamin C? It’s a powerful antioxidant that your body uses to fight off harmful germs. So, for extra virus-fighting power, liberally add sliced bell peppers to:

You can also munch on them with a side of dressing or hummus for dipping. 


cooked chicken breast

3. Poultry

Did you know - scientists have proven that chicken contains immune-boosting factors to keep you well and recover more quickly when you’re sick? That’s right! It’s all due to the vitamin B-6 found in poultry, which supports your red blood cells. 

And, chicken soup has the added benefits of minerals from the bones and collagen that are extremely helpful for gut health and your immune system. Now you know that the next time you feel a cold coming on, make chicken stock by boiling chicken backs for an hour or two or use individual bone-in chicken pieces.

Healthy Pressure Cooker Lemon Chicken Soup

Although we’re sure grandma’s chicken soup is amazing, you have to try this recipe! Packed with veggies and chicken goodness, the best thing about this soup recipe is that you get to let your pressure cooker do the work. Just prep and set, and in 30 minutes, you have a delicious soup to help you and your family fight off pesky germs. 

To make this soup, you’ll need chicken thighs, chicken broth, lemon juice, rice, olive oil, garlic, onions, carrots, bay leaves and a few other spices. And with all of these ingredients in-hand, you’re ready to start cooking. Get the details and follow along!

4. Onions

Similar to garlic, onions are a cooking staple. But, that’s not all they have in common. They are both foods to boost your immune system and need to be prepared a certain way to enjoy all of the health benefits. We know: they taste a lot better when they're caramelized. But, onions have sulfur compounds, which is what makes them good for immunity. These compounds get destroyed by heat, so try eating them raw by chopping a small amount finely and adding them to richly flavored foods, like tuna salad with mayo as the fat from the mayo will dull some of the onion's natural burn.

You can also add raw onions to salsas, like in the recipe below! 

Black-Eyed Pea Salsa

This easy 10-minute salsa recipe is sure to be a new family favorite, especially when served with Food Lion’s store-made tortilla chips. Yum! Plus, it’s packed with protein from the black-eyed peas, vitamin C from the lime juice and immune-boosters from the onion. So, this salsa not only tastes amazing, but it also offers lots of nutritional and health benefits. 

Before you start prepping, make sure you have the following ingredients:

  • Black-eyed peas, canned

  • Corn, canned

  • Tomatoes

  • Onion

  • Jalapeno

  • Cilantro

  • Salt

  • Lime

Now, head on over to our recipe portal to see the full recipe

5. Mushrooms

It's long been known that Asian mushrooms (like Shiitake) enhance immunity. But, these can often be a little pricey. Well, we've got some good news for you: plain button mushrooms work in much the same way as a great source of antioxidants! So, add some sliced mushrooms to your pizza, or stuff whole mushrooms with ground meat. Mushrooms also make a great addition to dishes you’re already planning to make such as:

All you have to do is dice your mushrooms finely and add them into your meat mixture. Then, cook your dish normally. 

6. Apples

How do apples actually keep the doctor away? You can thank all of the antioxidants packed into apples that boost your immunity. That's not all, though: they're also high in fiber—specifically a form of soluble fiber, which is also an immunity booster. 

But, if you've been loading up on applesauce (which is undeniably delicious), you’re missing out on those benefits. That's because even though the nutrients in apples stay strong over time, they don't hold up to the processing that takes place to make and package the applesauce.

So, stick to eating apples with dips like peanut butter and yogurt dip, or cooked in a dish for lunch or dinner.

One Pan Chicken with Apples & Onions

Just like our Healthy Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers recipe above, this dish is loaded with immunity-boosting foods, including:

  • Apples (of course)

  • Chicken 

  • Chicken stock

  • Broccoli

  • Onion

  • Sweet potatoes

  • Garlic

That’s a lot of foods that boost your immune system! Talk about virus- and germ-fighting power on a plate. 

To make this recipe, you’ll also need to make sure you have olive oil, salt & pepper, bacon, dried thyme and ground cinnamon. And if not, then it’s time for a quick trip to your local Food Lion! 

Then, take a look at the full recipe for ingredient measurements and step-by-step directions. 

7. Turmeric

Available everywhere as a bottled dried spice, turmeric is light in flavor but bright in color. Use it to liven up rice or pasta, or sprinkle over veggies. Why? Well, it's best known for its anti-inflammatory effect, but it's also powerful for immunity with antiviral, antioxidant and antibacterial benefits. 

So, adding it to foods to boost your immunity is a fantastic idea to ward off germs! Here are some ideas:

  • Mix some turmeric powder into your egg scramble

  • Blend with your morning smoothie

  • Add a little to your rice side dish 

8. Almonds

These little nuts aren't just good for curbing hunger, they're also helpful for supporting your immune system thanks to the vitamin E that is a natural antioxidant. Specifically, the skins do the trick, so if using them to help you and your family stay healthy and safe from viruses, make sure the almonds you choose have the skins intact. 

Besides just eating them plain, almonds also make a great salad, yogurt and oatmeal topping and work well tossed into pasta dishes. Again, just make sure that the almonds you choose still have the skin on them; even if they’re sliced! 


Boost Those Immune Systems!

We’ve now covered the eight foods to boost your immune system and revealed tasty recipe inspiration to help you serve the right foods to help keep your loved ones feeling their best. Want more tips on the subject? Check out our blog on spring cleaning tips to help keep your family healthy and safe!

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