In the age of the coronavirus pandemic, there are steps you can take toward helping your immune system stay strong and healthy. Getting enough sleep, controlling stress and exercising are all things you can do, along with thorough hand washing and avoiding touching your hands to your face.
Eating a diet that’s high in fruits, vegetables and whole grains is also important, especially when it includes some of these foods that naturally give your immune system a boost.
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A healthy source of carbohydrates, bananas boost energy and contain potassium which is important to both your muscles and kidneys. Bananas are also high in B6, a vitamin that benefits immune function.
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Whether you call them chickpeas or garbanzo beans, the health benefits are still the same. Loaded with zinc, chickpeas can help boost your immune system. Roast them in the oven for an easy snack or add them to your favorite slow-cooker recipes.
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Because it’s so good for you, spinach is one of the foods you should eat every day. Easily added to salads and other recipes, spinach offers benefits to everything from night blindness to blood clotting. Spinach is also rich in vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, an important nutrient for immune function.
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This fantastic snack is loaded with the good stuff. In moderate amounts, sunflower seeds offer many health benefits and are one of the best whole food sources of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that can help your body fight off infections.
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Not everyone loves broccoli, but its health benefits are undeniable. A member of the cruciferous family, broccoli is full of vitamins K and C, along with potassium and has been linked to cancer prevention. It also can help boost immunity. To get the most benefits, it’s best eaten raw. But it can be cooked, too, and is great as a topping on your favorite pizza.
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Lentils are a popular legume found in soups and comfort foods you can make ahead and freeze. A study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences found that eating lentils can help reduce the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers. Lentils also contain zinc, which can help boost white blood cells.
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Delicious baked whole or cut into fries, sweet potatoes are a wonder vegetable. Full of beta carotene and vitamin A, the antioxidants found in sweet potatoes benefit not only your immune system, but also your heart, teeth and vision. They’re also an easy way to add more fiber to your diet, and fiber intake has been associated with improved mood and memory.
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Offering a wealth of health benefits, carrots are full of carotenoids, the pigments responsible for the yellow, red and orange colors found in many fruits and vegetables. When consumed, carotenoids are converted into vitamin A, which can help strengthen immune function. Carrots are in season during the springtime months.
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Found in some of the best burritos and in many Asian dishes, red peppers are not only good, but they’re also good for you. Red peppers are loaded with vitamin C, which according to research published by Nutrients, can potentially help protect against pathogens.
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The perfect peel-and-eat fruit and a popular snack, oranges pack a serious punch of vitamin C, a nutrient essential to supporting a good immune system. Since your body doesn’t naturally produce it, it’s important to get the recommended amount of vitamin C through diet.
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According to an article published in the Food & Function journal, strawberries are a rich source of vitamins and can help promote health and disease prevention. The bright, red color indicates their high concentration of antioxidants. Sliced up and tossed into salads, yogurt or on top of your favorite breakfast cereal, they’re great for your immune system.
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Hailed as a superfood, kale is another member of the cruciferous family. Loaded with vitamins A, C and K, kale is one of the best foods you can put in your body. It’s good for your immune system and can be cooked in the oven to make healthy chips or blended in with some fruit to make into delicious smoothies.
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Found in the fruit aisle of your favorite grocery store, cantaloupe can be cut up and enjoyed as a healthy snack or dessert. Like many of the other fruits and vegetables that have health benefits, cantaloupe’s vibrant orange color is an indication of its high content of antioxidants. Eating foods like cantaloupe can also help your body fight off bad bacteria and viruses.
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A member of the onion family, garlic is the star attraction in some of the best pasta dishes and a great addition to your diet. Strong-smelling but oh-so-good, garlic is good for you. According to a study by Iowa Women’s Health, women who routinely ate garlic (along with fruits and vegetables) had a lower risk of colon cancer. Garlic also works as an anti-inflammatory, improves cardiac health and boosts immunity.
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Perfect on a bagel and used in a lot of childhood desserts you forgot existed, peanut butter has tons of protein, fiber and potassium. Studies suggest that people who include peanut butter in their diets are less likely to develop heart disease and diabetes. It also contains vitamin E, which helps support immune system health.
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Mushrooms go with just about anything, especially if you know how to grill the perfect steak. But more than just a side dish, mushrooms are full of nutrients and can be beneficial to everything from heart health to diabetes. Mushrooms also contain selenium, which can help boost immunity by stimulating t-cell production.
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Whether you love them or hate them, these little cabbages are big on health benefits. Containing phytonutrients, Brussels sprouts are one of the foods that can lower your risk for cancer. Known for helping fight inflammation, Brussels sprouts are also rich in vitamins A and C, helping to boost immunity.
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High in vitamin E, almonds can help fortify your immune system. Rich in protein and fiber, they also contain zinc, which has been linked to the prevention and treatment of the common cold. Even better, almonds are also good for cardiovascular health and are a heart-healthy food you should add to your diet.
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