Top food picks for the flu season
Scientists and nutrition experts know that nutrient-rich foods filled with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants assist in keeping the immune system in tip-top shape. On the other hand, diets high in saturated fat and processed food may hamper the body’s immune system.
Wendy Bazilian, a doctor of public health and registered dietitian, recommends loading up on a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables, not only during the flu season, but year-round. “Phytonutrients from plants are key to our immune system and keeping our energy revved,” she says. “Intensely coloured fruits and vegetables tend to have the highest levels of antioxidants and nutrients to protect healthy cells and increase the cells that help fight infection and inflammation.”
Here are Bazilian’s top food picks for maintaining good health throughout the flu season.
Along with other bright orange vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, squash and carrots, pumpkin is loaded with beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that helps build the body’s defense-system cells, Bazilian says. Easy-to-use canned pumpkin is one of the few canned vegetables full of fibre and low in sodium. It makes a great base for soups and side dishes. Aim to include bright orange vegetables in meals at least two or three times per week.
One medium kiwi supplies more than a full day’s worth of vitamin C, packing even more than an orange, cup for cup. Other vitamin C-rich foods include red bell peppers, kale and broccoli. Include 1 to 2 vitamin C-rich servings daily.