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7 Foods for Immune Support

Maintaining a capable, balanced immune system is crucial to your overall well-being—and the best way to help your immune system is by eating a healthy diet.

“Following general good-health guidelines is the single best step you can take toward naturally keeping your immune system working properly,” notes Harvard Health.

In addition to eating the right foods, Harvard Health suggests other ways to boost your immunity:

  • Exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight.
  • Get a good night’s sleep on a consistent basis.
  • Don’t smoke (or quit if you do) and drink alcohol only in moderation.
  • Find a consistent form of stress relief.
  • Reduce your infection risk by washing your hands and cooking meat thoroughly.
  • Keep current on any vaccines your practitioner may recommend.

The following foods contain nutrients that support proper immune function.

Brazil Nuts

These tasty treats are the richest natural source of selenium, a trace mineral that supports not only immune health but thyroid and cardiovascular well-being as well.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Brazil nuts also supply an impressive range of other nutrients, including fiber, thiamine (vitamin B1), vitamin E and the minerals copper, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc.

In addition to out-of-hand snacking, roughly ground Brazil nuts make a tasty topping for desserts as well as rice or vegetable dishes.

Citrus Fruit

While oranges are among the best-known sources of vitamin C, this immune-critical nutrient can be found in all citrus fruits, including grapefruit, lemons and limes.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

These tangy fruits also provide several minerals—including magnesium and potassium—as well as a wealth ofphytonutrients, substances that provide antioxidant protection and other health benefits.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Oranges and grapefruits make refreshing additions to salad. And lemons are a cook’s best friend, useful for everything from brightening the flavor of vegetable and seafood dishes to cleaning cutting boards and stainless steel sinks.

Fermented Foods

Cultures around the world include fermented foods in their native cuisines: natto and miso in Japan, kimchi in Korea, sauerkraut in Central and Eastern Europe, kefir in the region spanning Asia and Europe (home to more than a dozen cultures).

Yogurt, the best-known fermented food, may have been invented as far back as 7,000 years ago, its origins lost to the sands of time.

Fermentation—a process in which bacteria and yeast break down the natural sugars found in food—was originally developed as a way to preserve foods before refrigeration became widely available.

It wasn’t until the beginning of the 20th century, however, that scientists connected the consumption of fermented foods with improvements in well-being. Today, we know that fermented foods contain beneficial microbes calledprobiotics.

Probiotics are concentrated in the intestines, where much of the body’s immune system is also located. This has led researchers to find links between fermented foods and support for better immune health.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Leafy Greens

The stuff of salads…and much more: Leafy greens such as arugula, kale and lettuce all contain varying amounts of beta carotene, a nutrient the body turns into immune-boosting vitamin A.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Different greens provide a smorgasbord of other nutrients as well. Examples include the iron and calcium found in beet greens, vitamins C and K in bok choy (also known as Chinese cabbage) and the fiber and folate found in romaine lettuce.

You can learn more about leafy green vegetables here.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms have been prized by both chefs and traditional healers for thousands of years.

On the culinary side, mushrooms fill all sorts of roles, from trusty sauteed sidekick for burgers and steaks (button mushrooms) to hearty meat substitute (portobellos).

In terms of health, various mushroom species—such as maitake, reishi and shiitake, among others—have been found to support immune function while also bolstering other aspects of well-being.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

You can learn more about mushrooms and immune health here and using mushrooms in the kitchen here.

Salmon

Salmon is the most popular fish in the country; Americans consume nearly 450,000 tons of it annually. It is well known for providing not only protein but also omega-3 fatty acids, a healthy kind of fat.

What many people don’t know, however, is that salmon also supplies generous amounts of vitamin D—a key immune-support nutrient—as well as niacin (vitamin B3), phosphorus, selenium, thiamine and vitamin A.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

This rich, mild-tasting fish is a beginning seafood cook’s best friend, suitable for baking, grilling and pan-frying.

Shellfish

A category that covers everything from shrimp to clams and oysters to crabs and lobster, shellfish is known as an outstanding source of zinc, a mineral that plays a critical role in immune support.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Various types of shellfish also supply other vital nutrients, including iron, magnesium, omega-3 fats, protein and vitamin B12.

Shrimp, the single most popular form of seafood in the US, is suitable for just about every method of cooking, including grilled kabob-style on skewers with various vegetables and coated in coconut, as in this recipe.

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**These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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