White breakfast bowl with blackberries
Cold and Flu Season is Here – Boost Your Immune System with these Nutrient Rich Foods

They say food is the best medicine. With the arrival of cold and flu season, why not give your immune system the boost it needs?

Vitamins and minerals such as beta-carotene, vitamins C and D, zinc and probiotics work to help your body resist infections. With a slew of delicious foods containing these important elements, focusing on eating healthfully for immunity can be a walk in the park.

Here’s what you can eat more of to support your immune system, and a few ideas to incorporate these foods into your daily meals:

Reach for beta-carotene-rich foods, like sweet potato, carrots, mangoes, broccoli, tomatoes, spinach and other dark leafy greens. Our bodies convert beta-carotene into vitamin A , which in addition to strengthening our immune systems, supports eye health and our skin.

Foods high in vitamin C, like kiwi, citrus, berries, tomatoes and melon help protect your cells against the effects of free radicals, which can damage cells, cause diseases and accelerate aging. According to Mayo Clinic, “eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables might lower your risk of many types of cancer, such as breast, colon and lung cancers.” They note that “taking oral vitamin C supplements doesn’t appear to offer the same benefit [as direct from food sources].”

Vitamin D-containing foods have been shown to help control infections and reduce inflammation, as well as reduce cancer cell growth. Milk products may be fortified with vitamin D, and it naturally occurs in eggs, mushrooms, and fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and sardines, among other sources.

Eat more beans, nuts, tofu, seafood, pumpkin seeds and beef to add Zinc to your diet. It has been shown to help heal damaged tissue and support a healthy immune system.

Probiotics support a healthy gut, which aids with immunity. Yogurt and kefir are good sources, as is kimchi or other fermented foods.

Menu Ideas:

Here’s a few suggestions for how to incorporate these vitamin and nutrient powerhouses into your day:

Healthy Start Breakfasts

1. Yogurt with berries and pumpkin seed granola
2. Mango smoothie made with kefir or yogurt
3. Mushroom and spinach omelet

Super Lunches

1. Broccoli and kale salad with blueberries and pecans
2. Spinach salad with tomatoes, smoked salmon and chickpeas
3. Kimchi grilled cheese with tomato soup

Delicious Dinners

1. Oven roasted sweet potato topped with black beans and seasonings
2. Sheet pan broccoli and tofu served with rice or rice noodles and teriyaki sauce
3. Pasta Con le Sarde – a Sicilian style pasta made with sauteed onions and fennel, sardines and golden raisins and pine nuts

* Don’t forget to stay hydrated too! And get good sleep. Both are beneficial to your immune system and help keep you healthy.

Visit zestkh.com/recipes for other great ideas on how to use salmon, tofu, sweet potatoes and more!

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