During the flu and cold season, your work area can be a germ haven. With our loyalty to our jobs (and our jobs lack of understanding that even adults get sick) sick days are non-existent! During these winter months even just a quick trip to the store can be a flu trap. While stocking up on hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes can help, keeping your immune system strong by focusing on nutritious foods is your best bet.
There are many Super Foods (you know, foods that are super high in an array of nutrients) can help your immune system fight off these nasty colds and keep you feeling better than your co-workers.
1: Blueberries – Per serving, these small superfoods are packed full of antioxidants, more so than any other fruit or vegetable! They are also high in vitamins A and C, zinc, potassium, magnesium and iron. While boosting your immunity against everyday illness, they also have been known to help fight belly fat! Talk about a win-win! Add to your oatmeal, salads, yogurt or eat by themselves!
2: Brazil nuts (raw and unsalted) – These delicious nuts, in their raw form, are rich in protein, omega fats and selenium. Selenium is a mineral that helps guard against colds, flu and infection. Your body only needs a small amount of selenium each day so snack on these sparingly and be sure to stick to the right serving size (serving size is 1 oz, about 6 nuts).
3: Carrots – Carrots are rich in beta-carotene which the body converts in vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for building and maintaining a healthy and strong immune system. To be a little more specific, it helps to keep our body’s first line of defense, our skin, the mucous membranes in our nose, sinuses and our mouth, healthy and ready to protect! Check out the Raw Carrot Salad from Chef Brian of The Healthy Edge!
4: Fennel: Fennel is a natural expectorant and can help clear congestion and soothe a cough. One cup of chopped fennel bulb contains almost 20% of the daily requirement of vitamin C. So chop it up and eat it raw or throw it in a salad, because vitamin C is a vitamin you defiantly want to stock up on during this season!
5: Oats – Oatmeal is full of healthy nutrients such as vitamin E, zinc, selenium, copper, iron magnesium and insoluble fiber, including beta-glucan. The beta-glucan in oats contains antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. According to a Norwegian study, this strain of fiber is more potent than echinacea in boosting your immune system, speeds healing, and helps antibiotics to work better. Try this tasty Baked Blueberry Oatmeal Recipe!
6: Oranges – Ditch the fizzy immune-boosting drinks promising you your dose of vitamin C and eat an orange! So much simpler! Eating an orange is the most direct way to get the valuable vitamin C found in citrus fruits. Incase you didn’t know, vitamin C helps improve the immune system, produces and repairs skin tissue and is an antioxidant against harmful free radicals. Studies have shown that the benefits of vitamin C in helping to fight the common cold may be particularly strong when people are exposed to stress or cold weather.
7: Red Peppers – While oranges are a deliciously wonderful source of vitamin C, bell peppers have almost three times the vitamin C of a medium orange. We would suggest choosing red over green, they have more vitamin C, since greens are just unripe reds!
8: Sunflower seeds - A handful of sunflower seeds (unsalted) delivers a significant amount of vitamin E, magnesium, and selenium. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that prevents damage in cell walls and is essential to lung health. Healthy lungs mean less phlegm production.
9: Yogurt - The probiotics found in yogurt help keep your digestive track free of disease-causing germs and bad bacteria. Be sure to look for the “live active cultures” addition on the label, as these are the ones that contain probiotics. Go for plain yogurt or our favorite, Greek style, and flavor it yourself with fruits, honey or granola!
10: Dark Chocolate – Before you head over to the vending machine, be sure that read the rest! To enjoy the immunity-boosting benefits of dark chocolate (not the milk chocolate of your childhood Easter baskets), you have to understand the serving size we are suggesting, which is bite-sized. One-quarter ounce of dark chocolate (with a cocoa content of 70% or higher) contains the antioxidant polyphenol and high levels of zinc.