Cough, hack, sneeze — the sniffly season is upon us. Traditional go-to choices include tea (warm fluids are soothing, hydrating and some have antioxidants), orange juice (vitamin C!) and Grandma’s chicken noodle soup. But do these foods provide us with the nutrients needed to help the body recover? Or are there other options? The next time you’re sick, consider preparing — or having someone else prepare — one of the dishes below, which are chock-full of foods rich in immune-boosting nutrients.
Muesli Parfait This immune-boosting breakfast packs a lot of punch: You get anti-inflammatory Omega-3 fatty acids from the walnuts, a big dose of antioxidants from the mixed berries. Oats provide iron, vitamin A and a unique compound called beta-glucan that has been associated with a wide range of health benefits. Finally, the yogurt provides a source of probiotics and glutamine, an amino acid that is needed in greater amounts when the body is stressed.
Salmon Baked in Foil served with Sautéed Kale Salmon is another rich source of Omega-3 fatty acids, as well as selenium and vitamin D, both of which are involved in moderating the immune system. Kale and many other dark leafy greens are rich in vitamin C and glutathione, two formidable antioxidants. Finally, garlic has allicin, an antibacterial and antiviral compound, in addition to glutathione. You can find glutathione in onions and other cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts.
Stuffed Red Bell Peppers Protein isn’t just needed for building muscle, it plays a role in fighting disease as well. The need for certain amino acids — such as glutamine, which chicken has plenty of — is increased when the body is stressed. (Grandma knew what she was doing with that chicken!) In addition, the red pepper has a ton of free-radical-fighting vitamins C and A.
Sweet Potato Salad While a number of the ingredients in this recipe have been described above (yogurt and red pepper), an extra shout-out here goes to orange veggie sweet potato. Orange vegetables, including carrots, have a one-two antioxidant punch of vitamins A and C.
A Simple, Immune Boosting Snack Finally, if you’re in the mood for an immune-boosting snack, look no further than a piece of dark chocolate (70% cacao or greater — check the label) and a palmful of almonds. The chocolate is rich in flavonoids and a number of essential minerals including iron, zinc and magnesium while almonds, in addition to magnesium and zinc, have a good amount of the antioxidant vitamin E.
Through his book and blog, Death of the Diet, Jason Machowsky, MS, RD, CSCS, empowers people to live the life they want by integrating healthy eating and physical activity habits into their daily routines. You can follow him on Twitter @JMachowskyRDFit.