Top Immune Boosting Foods

Eating For Immunity

Now is the time to focus on the top immune boosting foods.

I’ve always made an effort to include fresh fruits and vegetables in my diet, particularly those rich in antioxidants, and assumed my immune system was A-okay. Then 2020 happened. I can’t remember a time that my first priority nutritionally was my immune health. A consideration? Sure! Top of the list? Nope.

But here we are, concerned more than ever that our immune systems are in tip-top shape as we continue to learn more than we ever thought we would ever know about how a virus spreads and the science of how it attacks the body. The good news is we can protect ourselves to the best of our abilities by being intentional about what we eat to boost our immune systems.

While diet isn’t the only factor, it’s a critical component that must be maintained over time. Remember to get enough rest, make time for activities that reduce stress, exercise, and limit your alcohol consumption.

Foods For A Strong Immune System

Blender full of frozen fruit and avocado in a beautiful light kitchen

If you’re on the hunt for a simple list of  top immune boosting foods to add to your daily diet, you can’t go wrong with:

  • berries
  • citrus fruits
  • green and orange vegetables
  • nuts and seeds
Small bowls of healthy nuts & seeds on a marble counter

 

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If you’re looking for a deeper dive, many different micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals) are beneficial to immune health. Dietary sources listed for each micro-nutrient are the top 10 immune boosting foods based on daily value, and are listed from highest to lowest amount per portion.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is the gold-star immune system booster. It’s a powerful antioxidant that stimulates production and increases function in several types of white blood cells — the ones that fight infection.

  • Guava
  • Kiwi
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Strawberries
  • Oranges
  • Papaya
  • Broccoli
  • Tomatoes
  • Snow Peas
  • Kale

 

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 supports biochemical reactions necessary for proper immune system function.  Therefore, B vitamin deficiencies have been linked to impaired immune response.

  • Salmon
  • Chicken Breast
  • Fortified Tofu
  • Lean Pork Chops
  • Skirt Steak
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Bananas
  • Potatoes
  • Avocados
  • Pistachios

Vitamin E

Another powerful antioxidant, vitamin E can help fight off infection by protecting white blood cells from damage.

  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Almonds
  • Avocados
  • Spinach
  • Butternut Squash
  • Kiwi
  • Broccoli
  • Trout
  • Olive Oil
  • Shrimp

Zinc

Zinc has been shown in some studies to shorten the length of viral infections and is critical to proper immune function. Bring on the zinc!

  • Oysters
  • Beef (steaks)
  • Dark Meat Chicken
  • Tofu
  • Lean Pork Chops
  • Hemp Seeds
  • Lentils
  • Low Fat Yogurt
  • Oatmeal
  • Shiitake Mushrooms

Selenium

Similar to zinc, Selenium plays an important role in regulating the immune system.

  • Brazil nuts
  • Tuna
  • Oysters
  • Lean Pork Chops
  • Skirt Steak
  • Chicken Breast
  • Tofu
  • Whole Wheat Pasta
  • Shrimp
  • Shiitake Mushrooms

Vitamin D

Multiple studies have shown that a vitamin D deficiency can inhibit healthy immune system function and make you more prone to respiratory infection. Since some people don’t absorb Vitamin D well from food sources, you can also get your full daily intake from 20 minutes in the sun (but wear your sunscreen)!

  • Salmon
  • Fortified Milk
  • Fortified Non-Dairy Milk
  • Fortified Tofu
  • Fortified Yogurt
  • Fortified Breakfast Cereal
  • Fortified Orange Juice
  • Lean Pork Chops
  • Eggs

Recipes for Immune Health

We’ve put together a full list of snack, breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes that include ingredients on this list for immune health. Find them here!

 

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