Must eat immune foods

Must-eat immune foods

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Want to know which foods are good for your immunity? Here are five of the best.

#1 Shiitake mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms originated in Japan and China where they have been used as a food and in traditional systems of medicines for thousands of years. Shiitake mushrooms contain the following:

Lentinan
A polysaccharide which is thought to give shiitake mushrooms their immune-supporting properties.
Selenium
An important antioxidant mineral.
Vitamin D3
Vitamin D enhances our immune response against bacteria and viruses.

Shiitake mushrooms have an earthy flavour and make a great addition to soups and stir-fries.

#2 Nuts

Nuts are one of our best sources of vitamin E. Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant nutrient  and may help to support regular immune function and resistance to bacterial infection. Choose a selection of nuts especially almonds, walnuts, Brazil nut and pecans. Aim to eat a handful each day and go for raw, unsalted nuts over roasted (up to 55% of the Vitamin E can be lost in the roasting process).

#3 Broccoli

Broccoli is one of the most nutritious vegetables around. Its benefits to our immune system are due to its high vitamin C content. Like vitamin E, vitamin C is a potent antioxidant nutrient and also helps to regenerate vitamin E. 

Vitamin C plays a role in improve immune function and our levels of C may be depleted when we have an infection, such as cold or flu.  Allergies can increase our need for vitamin C and allergy suffers should definitely have C rich foods like broccoli in their diet. When you are cooking with broccoli it is important not to overcook it as you can lose a high percentage of the vitamin C. Broccoli is delicious lightly steamed or added to stir-fries.

#4 Sweet Potato

Sweet potatoes are a must immune food for their betacarotene content which gives them their orange colour. Betacarotene is a precursor to vitamin A and will be converted in the body as needed. Betacarotene and vitamin A may help to improve immune system function, and like vitamins C and E they are antioxidants, with betacarotene being the more potent of the two. There are endless possibilities when preparing sweet potato. My favourite is a sweet potato mash with cracked black pepper, sea salt and rosemary.

#5 Oysters

Oysters are one the richest sources of zinc. This essential mineral is great for immune support as it is involved in virtually every aspect of immunity. An adequate intake of zinc is important for proper immune cell function and to reduce the risk of infection. Enjoy oysters natural with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice and cracked black pepper or with a dash of Tabasco sauce.

References available on request