What’s better than treating a cold or flu? Preventing illness in the first place’which means, in addition to avoiding exposure to viruses, you need to cultivate a healthy, strong immune system. Regular exercise, quality sleep, frequent hand washing and vitamin D supplementation are all important lifestyle habits to keep you healthy.
Perhaps even more important is maintaining a vitamin-rich diet, including lots of colourful fruits and vegetables. Eating more fruit, in particular, is an easy diet upgrade to make. “Fruit is a rich source of vitamins, minerals, fibre and water, presented in a convenient and usually sweet-tasting package,” says nutritionist Ian Marber, author of Supereating: A revolutionary way to get more from the foods you eat. "The taste is a major benefit, as most people will like fruit even if they don’t like vegetables’especially children, who can be averse to eating their greens."
What’s so great about fruit? Like all fresh, unprocessed produce, it’s packed with immune-boosting nutrients, says Marber, and each variety of fruit has its own unique nutritional profile, which is why it’s best to eat a wide variety. It’s also best to eat it as close to its natural state as possible: fresh, especially when in season, and frozen are Marber’s top picks, with canned a distant third as it tends to contain immunity-hindering refined sugars.
Top 4 immune-boosting fruits
Which fruits are best for your immune system? Marber recommends the following four’get them in your diet as often as you can, in addition to eating a regular variety of other fruits and vegetables. Munch them on their own, use them in recipes or brighten up your greens by adding fresh fruit to a salad.
Kiwis are high in vitamin C, which is an important immune-boosting nutrient, as well as in vitamin E, which, helps increase your body’s T-cell count, Marber says. Try the sweet green fruit in a smoothie (it pairs well with strawberries and spinach), or in one of these recipes:
‘ Nutty Breakfast Parfait
‘ The Okarito, an antioxidant-rich cocktail
A classic antioxidant-rich berry, blueberries are easily available frozen for a fraction of the out-of-season price of fresh ones. Marber says they’re high in vitamin C and in vitamin A, which is involved with antibody production. Thaw frozen berries overnight and add them your morning cereal, or try one of these recipes:
This tropical fruit is rich in beta-carotene, says Marber, which converts into vitamin A in the body. Eat it sliced and topped with fresh lime juice or in one of these recipes:
This popular spring berry is rich in both vitamins A and C, says Marber, and the seeds also contain minerals that support immune action. Fresh sliced strawberries make an excellent topping for a spinach salad, or try one of these recipes:
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