A run down of immune boosting foods, how to best use them, and fun facts to make it all interesting
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 synonymous with health?
If not, well, 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 find out a slew of other foods and their benefits—not to mention how to best harness their natural abilities.
While you may dump this on everything from pizza to chicken, did you know that it wards off more than vampires as its sulfur-based compounds produce anti-inflammatory immune responses. But they lose potency when heated. So, try raw garlic in pesto and other strongly flavored dips and sauces where its pungent flavor won't overwhelm. Can't take the heat of raw? Try aged garlic, which contains different antioxidants that can stand the heat in the kitchen—not to mention it has a much sweeter flavor.
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.
Scientists have proven that chicken contains immune factors to keep you well and/or recover from illness more quickly. Chicken soup has the added benefits of minerals from the bones and collagen/gelatin that contain amino acids for gut health. Next time you feel a cold coming on, make chicken stock by boiling chicken backs for an hour or two, or cook chicken parts on the bone.
We know: they taste a lot better when they're caramelized. But unfortunately, onions are similar to garlic in that their sulfur compounds (which are what makes them good for immunity) get destroyed by heat. Not a fan of raw onions but want all of their immunity-boosting goodness? Try 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 burn.
It's long been known that Asian mushrooms like Shiitake enhance immunity. But these can often be pricey. Well, we've got some good news for you: plain button mushrooms work in much the same way! Go forth and celebrate by adding some sliced mushrooms to your pizza, or stuff whole mushrooms with ground meat.
How do apples actually keep the doctor away? You can thank apples' quercetin, an antioxidant that boosts immunity. That's not all, though: they're also high in fiber—specifically a form of fiber called pectin, which is also an immunity booster. But, if you've been loading up on applesauce, you've probably found yourself in a doctor's office once or twice. That's because even though the nutrients in apples stay strong over time, they don't hold up to processing.
Available everywhere as a bottled dried spice, turmeric is small in flavor but big in color. Use it to liven up rice or pasta, or sprinkle over veggies. Why, you ask? Well, it's best known for its anti-inflammatory effect, and it's also powerful for immunity.
These little nuts aren't just good for staving off hunger, they're also helpful for fighting the flu. Specifically, the skins do the trick, so if using them for this purpose, skip over Marcona or other shelled almonds. Almonds make a great salad topping, and work well tossed into pasta dishes.