Keeping your immune system topped up is more critical than ever right now. But with self-isolating making food shopping less frequent, it’s harder to know which foods you should go for.
Key to maintaining your health is eating foods rich in vitamins A, C, D and E, as well as making sure your diet is varied. Avoid overly fatty foods and ration what you eat as best as you can.
If you have a fridge and cupboards full of food, it can be tempting to gorge on snacks. Doing so though may make you less healthy, and also increase the speed with which you run out of food.
Here are 20 readily available and versatile foods (and a handful of drinks) you can start consuming now to make your diet better and stave off illness.
1. Red peppers
Surprisingly it’s not orange or lemon that contains the most vitamin C - it’s red pepper! They contain twice as much vitamin C as citrus fruit.
Broccoli is classed as a superfood as it’s jam-packed with vitamins and minerals. Loaded with vitamins A, C, and E, alongside antioxidants and fibre, it’s one of the healthiest veggies you can eat.
Naturally rich in iron and incredibly versatile - you can eat it raw in salads, wilted with garlic and chilli as a side dish, or as part of a past or curry meal
Carrots are a good source of vitamin C, as well as other nutrients, vitamins and fibre. You can either drink as a juice, cook them individually as a side or add them to pasta dishes, shepherds pie or soup.
Anyone with even a basic grasp of the kitchen will know how to use onions in their meals, which is handy as they’re good for your immune system. As well as a decent level of vitamin C, they are high in quercetin which is a natural anti-viral ingredient.
Plenty of academic studies show the positive impact different mushrooms have on the immune system. They’re also super easy to cook, perfect for soups, stir-fries or sautéed on toast.
7. Sweet Potatoes
Full of nutrients, sweet potatoes can be baked or fried, used as a standalone meal or side dish, or put into curries and soups.
Although primarily known for their high potassium count, Bananas also provide a solid supply of vitamin C and B-6, which will help your immune system. Although mainly eaten raw as a snack, you can slice them to add to cereal, add to smoothies or even bake banana bread.
Loaded with vitamin C, oranges are great for your immune system, whether eaten whole or juiced.
It isn’t just vampires that garlic can warn off, but infections as well. It can help fight off viruses, so start adding it to your dinner whenever possible.
Love spice in your food? It’s also very good for you, chillis also contain capsaicin which aids your body in clearing congestion and phlegm.
Ginger is a hugely versatile spice, working well in sweet dishes like cakes or adding an extra kick to curries and stir-fries. From an immunity perspective, it’s anti-bacterial properties are an excellent resource for your body in fighting off infections.
This vivid yellow spice has become quite fashionable in recent years, sprinkled in lattes and used across all forms of cooking. One of its many benefits for the body is “increasing the immunomodulating capacity of the body”, which is a scientific way of saying it makes your immune system work harder.
Cinamon helps flavour everything from cakes and coffees to curries and chilli con carne. It’s also very good for you, helping fight off colds.
Almonds are full of manganese and vitamin E, which keeps your immune system in check, as well as being a source of healthy fats. Drinking almond milk is also good for you, and you can either eat almonds raw as a snack, bake them in cakes or add to curries or salads.
17. Pumpkin and Sunflower seeds
You can eat these raw or sprinkle on salads. Seeds come jam-packed with zinc - and that boosts your body’s ability to fight off colds.
Yoghurt has a high protein count and is full of probiotics, which makes for an excellent boost for your immunity. Try with chopped berries on top.
Chicken remains one of the most versatile meats and the good news is, it’s healthy too. Chicken Soup, in particular, is very good for you, here’s a recipe that combines it with some of the other ingredients on this list.
Naturally protein-rich and full of nutrients, salmon is full of health benefits. The fish is stocked with vitamin D and several antioxidants which can help fight off a wide variety of ailments.
21. Pomegranate Juice
As a fruit, pomegranates have been used for centuries in medicines and are crammed with goodness. You can eat them on their own, but juiced they are full of antioxidants, vitamin C and boost your digestive system.
22. Green Tea
Teas naturally contain a special ingredient called epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, which is a powerful antioxidant. The fermentation process of black tea (your common breakfast variety) destroys the EGCG, but with green tea, it doesn’t.
And don’t forget good old water. Staying hydrated is particularly useful for maintaining your immune system at its highest level, and can help be the first line of defence against any virus.
Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.