By now, the winter season has probably already begun to take its toll on your health. And if you’re anything like me, you get fed up with popping pills and making trips to the doctor. Vitamin C and zinc are the go-to supplements for boosting the immune system, but antioxidants play a huge role in immune health as well.
One of many medical studies that highlight the connection between antioxidants and the immune system concluded that “maintaining adequate antioxidant status may provide a useful approach in attenuating cell injury and dysfunction observed in some inflammatory/autoimmune disorders.” Another study published in the Annals of Clinical & Laboratory Science found that “antioxidant supplementation essentially reverses several age-associated immune deficiencies, resulting in increased levels of interleukin-2, elevated numbers of total lymphocytes and T-cell subsets, enhanced mitogen responsiveness, increased killer cell activity, augmented antibody response to antigen stimulation, decreased lipid peroxidation, and decreased prostaglandin synthesis.”
Although this might sound complicated, it’s really not if you simply focus on eating fresh and healthy whole foods. These are some of our favorite antioxidant-rich foods to boost your health this winter and all throughout the year.
One of the all-time best foods to eat to boost your antioxidant levels is broccoli. In addition to the antioxidants, it also has vitamin A, C, and E, making it one of the healthiest foods to incorporate into your meals this winter.
Carrots are rich in the antioxidant, beta carotene, which helps protect the body from harmful oxygen-free radical injury. Carrots are also rich in the antioxidant, falcarinol, which is known to destroy harmful cells in the body. They’re naturally sugary and have a satisfying crunch that’s perfect for mid-day snacking.
It might make you pucker up your lips, but that tangy taste is worth it while eating grapefruit. Either red of pink grapefruit will do because both are packed with vitamin A and vitamin C. The antioxidants in grapefruit are also known to break down fat and make your bodily cells more sensitive to insulin.
Berries are packed with antioxidants and absolutely delicious for snacking and desserts. And out of all the berries, blackberries have emerged on top in terms of antioxidant content. University of Oslo researchers discovered that blackberries have even more antioxidants than blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries. A cup of blackberries also has 7.6 grams of fiber, 2 grams of protein, and almost half of your daily value of vitamin C as well.
Another fruit that’s high in antioxidants is the pomegranate. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition concluded that pomegranate juice has potent antiatherogenic effects in humans attributable to its antioxidative properties.
Garlic possesses many different health-boosting properties and its rich in antioxidants too. Garlic’s sulfur compounds, like allcin, give it these powerful immune system properties. Some sliced or chopped garlic added to your favorite dishes will add flavor to your meals while fighting free radicals in your body.
Of all the healthy nuts you can snack on, make sure to stock up on almonds this winter. Almonds have a high antioxidant content and lots of immune-boosting vitamin E. This is a healthy fat-soluble vitamin, and a half cup of almonds nearly provides 100 percent of your daily value. Pecans and walnuts are also great nut options to stay healthy this winter.
And don’t forget the spices! These are some of the best spices with health benefits that support a fully-functional immune system: