According to the CDC, this time of year – that is, October and November – represents the height of flu season. Americans continue to be at high risk for influenza throughout the fall and winter months. Luckily, proactive, healthful steps can elevate your immunity to these pesky viruses, which cannot be treated with antibiotics – these medicines only treat bacterial infections.
In this article, we’ll discuss several delicious, immunity-boosting foods you can incorporate into your family’s diet as the temperature drops.
1. Bell Peppers
Did you know that one cup of chopped bell peppers boasts 190 mg of vitamin C? That’s 253% of your daily recommended value – and nearly three times as much vitamin C as a regular-sized orange. Bell peppers are also low in sugar, a good source of potassium, and a great source of vitamin A. Green bell peppers are great, too: They provide nearly 96 mg of vitamin C – which still eclipses the famous orange.
Bell peppers are great raw and dipped into hummus, cooked into soups or stews, or stuffed whole and baked in the oven. Roast them on a Sunday afternoon and enjoy them in your sandwiches and salads all week. This recipe for vegan quinoa-stuffed peppers is sure to be a hit at your house – and you can always add organic cheese or meat to the recipe to meet your family’s needs.
How exactly does vitamin C boost your immune system? Says Dr. Sarath Malepati, the physician behind EZC Pak Immune Support: “Vitamin C is thought to be involved in the modulation of several immune cells that assist in the clearance of viruses and bacteria.”
Many people are shocked to learn just how much vitamin C a tiny little kiwi contains: 1 large fruit has over 84 mg! That same kiwi also provides nearly half of your daily vitamin K needs and nearly a tenth of your potassium requirement. Vitamin K aids in blood clotting, and potassium helps maintain fluid balance in our bodies.
Kiwis are naturally sweet and an awesome, vibrant green. Show them off in salads, oatmeal, or enjoy them plain. They also blend into smoothies nicely. Try out a triple berry kiwi smoothie for breakfast or dessert.
The average adult female needs 8mg of zinc a day, while the average adult male requires 11mg. The National Institute of Health states that zinc “helps the immune system fight off invading bacteria and viruses.”
If you enjoy seafood occasionally, consider choosing one of the following items next time you dine out: oysters, crab, or lobster. These shellfish products are loaded with zinc. Just three ounces of cooked, wild oysters contain 154 mg of zinc!
Consider this recipe for grilled oysters with mango pico de gallo and red chili horseradish to really impress your guests.
4. Cereals, Leafy Greens, and Legumes
If you’re a vegan or a vegetarian, or just don’t want to splurge on expensive, fresh seafood – don’t fret. There are still plenty of ways to ensure you’re getting lots of zinc. Many breakfast cereals are fortified with zinc. Check your favorite and make sure it includes plenty.
Other good plant-based sources of zinc include chickpeas, spinach, peanut butter and oatmeal. None of these products pack the all-at-once punch that shellfish does, so you’ll have to incorporate multiple sources of zinc throughout the day, every day, to meet your daily requirement.
This recipe for Andalusian chickpea and spinach soup is downright tasty, and contains multiple sources of zinc. Feel free to double up on chickpeas and spinach to elevate its immune-boosting properties.
Says Dr. Malepati: “Zinc is an essential trace metal with a wide range of critical bodily functions. These processes, which are fundamental to life, include gene expression, enzyme function, and metabolism. Zinc is involved in virtually every aspect of our immune system’s ability to function.”
Find A Way to Get Your Daily Doses of Vitamin C & Zinc
Whether you’re a talented cook or a take-out enthusiast, knowing the right foods to choose goes a long way in fighting off viruses. Looking for more information on what foods can keep your immune system strong? We like Nutrition Data’s Nutrients in Food Tool. The completely customizable search allows you to hand-select criteria for your research.
If you feel a cold or a flu coming on, try to up your intake of these vitamin C- and zinc-rich foods. Even the most healthful eaters, though, find that EZC Pak helps them up their consumption of these nutrients when their immune systems could use the extra help.