3 immunity boosting foods to eat this winter
Baby, it’s cold outside and that means many of us will be staying inside much more than usual. The more time spent indoors, the more we share germs with others who may be sick putting us at risk of coming down with a cold or the flu. But that can be avoided by choosing to eat three foods known for their antioxidant-rich powers providing your immune system with a kick where it needs it to work as efficiently and diligently as always.
These three foods not only are health-promoting but also available during this season and best of all, are at their peak taste performance during the cold winter months.
Choose these three foods several times a week to get you through the coldest season of the year healthy and disease-free ready to face a much warmer and welcomed spring.
Three must-eat foods for winter
1. Citrus fruits
There is no better time to consume citrus fruits than in the winter. They taste their best this time of year and aren’t we lucky for that. Whether you choose to eat oranges and grapefruit, or lemons and limes, these citrus fruits grown in warmer climates will bring that ray of sunshine into your home on a bleak winter day.
Citrus fruits will also bring to your immune system a healthy dose of the water-soluble vitamin, vitamin C. Oranges and grapefruit are particularly abundant in vitamin C as they can contain as much as 70 milligrams in one piece of fruit.
Vitamin C is a well-known friend to your immune system. This vitamin also known as ascorbic acid has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that help maintain the integrity of your skin acting as a protective barrier against infection.
Another job vitamin C has is as an anti-oxidant helping to protect immune cells against harmful compounds coming from viral or bacterial infections. In other words, once those disease-causing germs make their way inside you, vitamin C’s role as an anti-oxidant is to take action by putting up a barrier preventing the harmful germs attacking the immune cells.
Many people will take large doses of vitamin C pills with the belief it will protect them from getting sick with a cold of the flu. It is really more advantageous to get vitamin C from plant foods like citrus fruits since plants contain other beneficial compound that supplements may not.
A longtime kitchen staple, garlic has been used as an elixir of health for thousands of years. Besides warding off vampires – according to folklore – the cloves of garlic may also scare away the common cold by reducing your risk of infection.
The main active ingredient making garlic one of the must-eat foods is the compound allicin. Allicin is an enzyme and is what gives garlic its nutritional muscle. Whenever you chop or crush garlic, this releases the compound allinase causing the formation of allicin. Allicin is a pungent oil liquid with antibacterial properties and it garlic’s potent medicinal weapon providing numerous health benefits.
In order to activate allicin, garlic must be either finely chopped or crushed. The finer the chopping and the greater the intensity of crushing, the more allicin is activated leading to a stronger medicinal effect. All that chopping and crushing breaks down cell walls beginning a flow of chemical reactions, including its characteristic smell, which leads to desired sulfides.
Once garlic has been chopped or crushed, don’t be tempted to toss it in hot oil or a cooking dish just yet. Let it rest for about 10 to 15 minutes allowing the compounds a chance to form. If you toss in garlic right after chopping, it will still give the desired taste but not have quite the medicinal power.
To maximize garlic’s immune boosting effects, try to have two to three cloves of garlic a day.
3. Sweet potatoes
Here is a food that is good just about any time of year but winter is when sweet potatoes shine the most. Not only are they a delicious addition to any meal, but they are also rich in vitamin A – a one-half cup serving of a baked sweet potato contains 960 micrograms of vitamin A.
Vitamin A is considered one of the top anti-oxidant rich vitamins to choose from. Antioxidants are known to support the immune system when you choose foods such as sweet potatoes regularly, you’ll be providing your body with one of the best means of maintaining healthy immunity to fight off infections.
Antioxidants work by helping to neutralize harmful free radicals. Free radicals are rogue molecules that cause damage to healthy cells. When there is an imbalance between the number of free radicals and antioxidants, this can lead to an interference of the health and functioning of the immune system. Choosing foods rich in vitamin A is important to help fight off any damaging effects from free radicals keeping the immune system strong.