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Boost Your Immune System with These 7 Superfoods

Piles and bowls of superfood fruits and vegetables on a counter.
ILEISH ANNA/Shutterstock

Sometimes, it seems like winter might drag on forever (especially this year). The shorter hours of daylight can make it harder to squeeze in all of your tasks. This can leave you feeling depleted, which doesn’t do your immune system any good. But there’s something simple you can do to turn this around: Incorporate more superfoods into your diet!

Pomegranate

These gorgeous little red seeds pack a whole bunch of nutrients and more than 100 phytochemicals, which are compounds that protect plants from pathogens, disease, and even animals. In the human body, they act as antioxidants and protect against free radicals and manage the damage they can do to our cells.

The incredible effects of phytochemicals have been linked to cancer prevention, delaying the progression of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, as well as protecting teeth from plaque.

Pomegranate is also rich in that good ole immune booster, vitamin C. Additionally, it contains vitamins E and K, as well as folate and potassium. All of this makes this fruit a real superfood. You can eat it raw, drink pomegranate juice, or add some frozen pieces to your smoothie for a daily dose of goodness.

If you want to take things a step further, try sprinkling some on top of your salad, using it in a sauce, or making it a delicious dessert!

Ginger

This one probably comes as no surprise—the health benefits of ginger have been well-known for thousands of years. This anti-inflammatory root is believed to ease many ailments, including indigestion, high blood pressure, nausea, and PMS.

High in antioxidants, ginger reduces inflammation and lowers the level of stress in our bodies. This stimulates the rest-and-digest nervous system, enabling the body to fight off bacteria and viruses.

Drinking some warm ginger tea, or simply adding some to your herbal tea of choice, is an easy way to benefit from ginger’s healing properties. You can also juice it and drink it as a shot for a powerful daily immune system boost.

Adding a piece to your soup or stir-fry will spice them up deliciously. And if you’ve ever wondered why ginger is always served in its pickled form with your sushi, it’s because it helps you digest the rice and cleanses your palate, to boot. Handy, right?

Turmeric

Widely used in Indian and other South Asian cuisines, turmeric is one of the main ingredients in all of your favorite curry recipes. But it wasn’t until golden lattes became a trend that people started to discover why we should make turmeric a regular part of our diets.

Curcumin, another powerful phytonutrient, possesses anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. So, not only can it reduce overall stress and inflammation in the body, but it can also regulate blood sugar levels, boost brain function, relieve joint pain, promote skin health, and so much more!

In Ayurveda, turmeric is one of the most researched foods in the world. This is because it’s believed to balance the body by regulating all three “doshas,” which are Ayurvedic mind-body types. In addition to golden lattes, you can incorporate this superfood into your homemade curry recipes, vegetable stir-fries, or even desserts.

Tip: You should always combine turmeric with a dash of black pepper, as it activates the curcumin and enhances its absorption.

Garlic

A bowl holding three garlic cloves.
Marian Weyo/Shutterstock

Praised for centuries for its antimicrobial, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties (and its ability to ward off vampires), garlic is also full of antioxidants and digestive enzymes. As such, it can aid in digestion and also help protect against those pesky free radicals. Linked to lowering the risk of colorectal cancer, improving heart health, and fighting off candida and yeast, incorporating more of it into your diet is a pretty swell idea.

Western cuisines are well-known for using garlic as an aromatic and/or flavoring agent. It’s regularly added to many stocks, broths, soups, dressings, marinades, and various other stews and vegetable medleys. You can get it in powder form, but nothing beats those fresh garlic bulbs—they’re much more potent and nutritious.

Spirulina

These days, you can find this green superfood algae at most health food stores and smoothie places, but its powerful healing properties have been known for a long, long time. From lowering cholesterol and regulating blood sugar, to treating allergies and heavy metal detoxing, spirulina might be one of the best things to incorporate into your diet, especially during cold and flu season.

Rich in B12, vitamin A, iron, and a phytonutrient called phytocyanin (blue Majik), you can get spirulina in powder or pill form. Sprinkle some in your smoothie, add a teaspoon to your salad dressing, or use it to “color” your acai bowl blue!

If you’ve never tasted spirulina before, make sure you pair it with something rich, like cacao, coconut, pineapple, banana, or mango to mask its ocean-salty, algae flavor.

Avocado

If you haven’t yet boarded the avocado train, now’s the time! Full of healthy fats, fiber, magnesium, and vitamins K, C, and B6, avocados pack quite the nutritious punch. They’re good for gut health and appear to improve the health of the microbiome. Research suggests they might even improve cognitive functions and keep our brain and eyes healthy.

These are more than enough reasons to start making that guacamole a daily treat! Avocados also taste amazing in smoothies, as they make everything extra creamy and delicious. You can slice one up and put it on your burger or sandwich, or use it to make the creamiest key lime cheesecake you’ve ever seen.

Sweet Potato

Is there anything better than sweet potato fries? Sweet potatoes are real nutrient power bombs as they contain high levels of vitamins C and B complex, as well as iron, calcium, selenium, potassium, and beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A after it’s consumed.

Tip: Add some coconut or olive oil when you bake your sweet potatoes to increase beta-carotene absorption—it’s fat-soluble!

Beta carotene is what’s responsible for that golden-orange color, as well as the protection against free radicals and improved eye health. There are numerous ways you can incorporate more sweet potatoes into your diet, from baking and loading them with toppings, to making brownies (yes, you read that right) and casseroles.

These are just some of the incredible superfoods you can incorporate into your diet this winter. As flu season is in full swing, it’s wise to do everything in your power to stay healthy.

Karla Tafra Karla Tafra
Karla is a certified yoga teacher, nutritionist, content creator and an overall wellness coach with over 10 years of international experience in teaching, writing, coaching, and helping others transform their lives. From Croatia to Spain and now, the US, she calls Seattle her new home where she lives and works with her husband. Read Full Bio »

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