Keep your body energized and healthy by eating these key superfoods for immune system health. These seven foods are packed with vitamins and nutrients that will help your body fend off germs during cold and flu season so you can perform at your best.
What are superfoods?
Superfoods are foods that have a particularly high amount of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. The high concentration of nutrients in these immunity booster foods makes them great for your health.
7 Superfoods That Boost Your Immune System
Garlic not only gives your meal some extra flavor, it is also one of the best superfoods to boost your immune system in preparation for cold and flu seasons. Studies have shown that regular consumption of garlic extract can have a positive effect on blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. Plus, garlic is full of antioxidants, which strengthen your body’s natural defenses.(1)
The spicy, aromatic ginger root is used to add some kick to drinks, teas, soups, and Asian dishes, and it’s also a real superfood. Ginger reduces inflammation and relieves pain.(2) Plus, it also helps reduce nausea.(3)
Eat some ginger after having a meal with a lot of garlic – it helps get rid of garlic breath!
Walnuts, peanuts, almonds, and cashews are packed with nutrients and incredibly healthy. Not only do they provide a lot of vegetable protein and fiber, they’re also high in vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Nuts also give you valuable omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and folic acid. A large-scale Iowa Women’s Health study showed that regular consumption of nuts (1-4 times a week) is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases.(4)
Snack on a handful of nuts with some fruit when you’re in a hurry, toss some into your salad, or add nut butter to your porridge.
4. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds originally come from Mexico, where they were regularly used by the Aztecs and Mayas. Nowadays, they have found their way into our cooking. There are lots of reasons for athletes to eat chia seeds: they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids(100 g contain as much as 1kg of salmon) and they provide twice as much vegetable protein as other seeds.(5) They are also packed with antioxidants and soluble fiber.
In liquid, chia seeds can expand to 10 times their original size within minutes, which is why they are often used to make pudding. Here are some other ways to use the superfood:
Add texture to:
- sports drinks: Let 1-2 TBSP chia seeds soak in 3 TBSP water for approx. 15 to 30 minutes. Mix the mash into your pre-workout sports or isotonic drink.
- homemade ice cream
Chia seeds as a vegan egg substitute:
For baking: Mix 1 TBSP of ground chia seeds and 3 TBSP of water for every egg you want to substitute. Then, mix with the remaining ingredients.
Matcha is ground green tea and is popular as more than just a coffee substitute. The high content of free radical scavengers, vitamins, minerals, and trace elements make matcha a powerful way to fight a cold or flu.(6) The most popular way to serve the powder is in the form of a matcha latte. The green powder is also a great addition to baked goods.
Good to know
When you buy matcha powder, make sure that it is free of sugar and additives. Of course, organic quality would be even better. The best way to store it is packaged in the refrigerator.
This common winter vegetable is a regular ingredient in superfood dishes. The high antioxidant(6) content strengthens your immune system and protects your body from diseases like Alzheimer’s and arteriosclerosis.(7) Plus, the high-fiber content in kale keeps your gut healthy.
Another fantastic superfood for overall immune system health is blueberries. They are loaded with vitamin C and potassium as well as other important vitamins.(8) Be sure to eat them during the cold season – in smoothies, baked oatmeal, or just as a snack in (soy) yogurt. These purplish berries are anti-inflammatory vitamin bombs that protect against disease. The flavonoids they contain give them their color.
One of the best ways to strengthen your immune system is by incorporating superfoods into your meals. Eat a wide variety of colorful, immunity booster foods in a balanced diet. And remember to stay hydrated, get enough sleep, and get regular exercise.
Julia Denner Julia is a dietician and sports nutritionist. Before she began her position as Communications Specialist at Runtastic, she spent several years working as a dietician in the surgical department at Vienna General Hospital. Julia is passionate about inspiring others to eat a healthy, balanced diet. View all posts by Julia Denner