The best defense against illness is the dietary choices you make on a daily basis. This list is packed with information on what you should be eating to get the nutrients needed to remain healthy throughout the year. By incorporating these vegan superfoods into your diet, you will boost your immune system and nourish your body. You may want to mix and match these foods since the immune system is complex and requires a variety of nutrients to thrive.
Almonds are packed with the antioxidant vitamin E that naturally boosts your immune system. These also contain protein, fiber, and zinc that are essential to your health and well-being. Eating almonds can help to fight off viruses, infections, and the common cold. Additionally, almonds boost your cardio-vascular health.
Sunflower seeds are a great source of magnesium, which leads to a healthy heart, and copper, which strengthens your bones. These are also filled with selenium, an antioxidant that relieves stress, helps your body fight certain cancers, and boosts your immune system by controlling cell damage. Like almonds, sunflower seeds also are filled with vitamin E to give you healthy skin, hair, and nails.
Pistachios have a high level of vitamin B6, which greatly assist your blood flow by generating hemoglobin. Eating pistachios helps you to create healthy red blood cells and maintains the health of your thymus, spleen, and lymph nodes. This also helps to produce healthy white blood cells that defend the body from infection. Another benefit of the vitamin B6 in pistachios is calming you down by stimulating the production of serotonin and melatonin in your brain.
Broccoli is packed with vitamins K, vitamin C, and potassium, which are all essential to a healthy immune system. Research has shown broccoli is linked to cancer prevention. It is also filled with antioxidants that prevent cell damage by inhibiting or neutralizing free radicals in the body, leading to reduced inflammation and protective health effects. Studies have also shown that sulforaphane, a bioactive compound in broccoli, can slow the biochemical effects of aging.
Red bell peppers
Red bell peppers have almost double the amount of vitamin C most fruits and vegetables have. Vitamin C boosts the production of white blood cells to fight infection and is one of the most commonly known vitamins to bolster your immune health. Red bell peppers also contain beta carotene, which keeps your skin and eyes healthy when it is converted into vitamin A in your body.
Spinach is filled with vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Together, these vitamins help your body fight off infection. Spinach does this by replenishing your blood cells to improve your immune system. The vitamin K in spinach helps to strengthen your bones, while the fiber aids in the digestive process. The anti-inflammatory properties in spinach also can aid in clearing your skin from acne and other blemishes.
Sweet potatoes are rich with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fiber that strengthen your immune system. These have been found to improve your gut health and also have cancer-fighting properties. The vitamin A in them helps to maintain the mucous membranes in your stomach, which is where many disease pathogens are encountered, and strengthens the immune system response to these threats. Sweet potatoes have also been shown to improve brain function, such as learning and memory.
Kiwi is packed with antioxidants and nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin E, folate, and potassium. Studies have shown that eating kiwi supports immune function and reduces the likelihood of developing cold or flu illnesses. Kiwi also reduces the likeliness of oxidative stress occurring, which damages DNA and leads to health problems. Eating kiwi also aids in managing your blood pressure, easing asthma, and protecting against vision loss.
Watermelon gets its red color from lycopene, which is currently the most powerful antioxidant measured in food. Lycopene protects your body from damage of free radicals, which can lead to cancer, chronic disease, and diabetes if they outnumber the antioxidants in your body. Eating watermelon also reduces inflammation that leads to infection and lowers your risk of developing heart disease.
Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits, lemons, limes, tangerines, pomelos) are all wonderful immune boosters because they are high in vitamin C. Eating these foods boosts the production of your red and white blood cells, both of which are vital in fending off infection and illness. These fruits also help you to stay hydrated since they are mostly made of water.
Garlic boosts your immunity due to the alliin it contains. When crushed or chewed, allin turns into allicin, which is the source of garlic’s medicinal strength. Allicin bolsters white blood cells’ response to fighting diseases, especially viruses like the common cold and flu. One study found people who took a garlic supplement had a 63% less chance of catching a cold, and when they did it was for a 70% shorter duration with less severity.
Cauliflower is a great dietary immune booster because of the choline and glutathione it contains. The nutrient choline aids in cell function and also strengthens your gastrointestinal barrier, which keeps bacteria safely within your gut. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that helps to fight off infection. Cauliflower also contains sulforaphane, which fortifies the immune system against pathogens and is known for being a top defense enzyme.
All mushrooms are wonderful for boosting immunity, but shiitake mushrooms are one of the best. Shiitake mushrooms are nutrient-rich, filled with vitamin D, selenium, B vitamins, and 7 of the 8 essential amino acids. They also contain the macromolecule lentinan, which has been shown to enhance immune responses to inhibit tumor growth and prevent cancer.
Kale is packed with vitamin C, vitamin E, and folate. Vitamin C and E are both antioxidants and immune-enhancing nutrients that have been shown to reduce damage to oxidative stress, which can cause chronic inflammation that lowers the body’s immune defense. Folate has a very important role in balancing the immune system. If deficient in folate, the body’s immunity is severely impaired because it is needed to successfully divide cells and repair DNA. Folate prevents changes to DNA that lead to cancer and taken regularly has been shown in clinical studies to improve overall health.
How to consume kale
Kale is a very dense cabbage. The simplest and perhaps best solution to consume kale is to use a blender to create a yummy green smoothie. Or eat it finely chopped in salads, for example, with oranges in dice and pomegranate, or with berries, nuts, and garlic, which also fits well with the somewhat bitter kale and. The kale is a great ingredient in soups, or why not a homemade kale pesto?
Recommended amount: 45-50 g of kale gives you the daily, recommended amount of vitamin C, but feel free to eat more.
Alanna is a self-care enthusiast, who believes in the restorative power of nature. She studies eco-pscyhology to bridge the human and natural world to promote regenerative healing of the mind, body, and soul. Alanna is currently working as a content writer and enjoys spending her time hiking, meditating with nature, and discovering holistic wisdom.