Winter is coming. As the seasons change and the bountiful produce of summer and fall fade away, it’s easy to start skimping on essential nutrients in favor of comfort foods. This can take a toll on your immune system, which relies on those nutrients to function optimally. With a little intention, you can add immune-boosting foods to your diet to help your body stay strong.
Here are a five foods we should all be eating right now.
Broccoli is basically the definition of health food. It’s loaded with fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals — and a compound called 3,3′-diindolylmethane, or DIM. Also found in other brassicas, DIM has been shown to have cancer-fighting properties, and according to one study from researchers at UC Berkeley, it may also boost your immune system.
If you’re wondering if you can make broccoli delicious without cheese, the answer is yes. We love adding broccoli to our morning eggs, roasting a big tray of broccoli with olive oil, salt, and maybe some red pepper flakes, or turning it into a hearty slaw.
2. Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are one of the best sources of beta carotene, a compound that not only explains its bright orange color, but has also displayed immune-boosting properties in multiple studies. Bonus: In the body, beta carotene is converted to vitamin A, which also plays a key role in a healthy immune system. In fact, low blood levels of vitamin A have been linked to lowered immunity.
A surprising way to incorporate sweet potatoes into your diet? Eat them for breakfast.
Just half a grapefruit contains 50 percent of your daily recommended intake of vitamin C. And, of course, we all know that vitamin C is the one most famous for supporting a healthy immune system. Studies have shown that 200 mg of vitamin C per day can shorten the duration of colds by an average of 8% in adults and 14% in children.
In the morning, add half a grapefruit to your breakfast routine. Or add grapefruit into your salad at lunch or dinner. We love it paired with quinoa and pecans.
If you’re feeling the sniffles coming on, add some thyme to your diet. Thyme has been used as a medicinal herb for centuries and, according to the authors of one study, “it possesses some antiseptic, bronchiolitic, antispasmodic, and antimicrobial properties that make it popular as a medicinal herb.”
You can sprinkle thyme on basically anything or try it in teas like Yogi’s Breathe Deep Tea.
Elderberry happens to make a syrup that’s insanely delicious and infinitely versatile. It has also shown promise in reducing the duration and severity of colds. So go ahead and drizzle it on your oatmeal, your pancakes, or add a teaspoon to herbal tea for a bit of tart sweetness.