Right now, you don’t have to look far to get advice on how to prevent virus transmission. Wash your hands and disinfect surfaces. Minimize physical contact. Use proper sneezing and coughing hygiene. Practice social distancing.
But what about the other half of the equation? We also need to work from the inside out:
- Stay calm; stress weakens the immune system;
- Eat plants to boost your immune system.
If possible, it’s best to get these immune-boosting superheroes from whole foods rather than supplements. Whole food sources always come with fringe benefits like protein, fiber, and water, and are more bioavailable (usable) for your body.
The following are some of the key players in fueling the immune system, including easy and creative recipes to get more of them in your diet:
Sources of Vitamin C
I bet the first thing that popped into your mind was an orange. While oranges and any other citrus fruit for that matter (grapefruit, lemons, limes) are great sources of vitamin C, there are so many more. Don’t let those empty orange bins at the market leave you thinking you will be deprived of vitamin C.
Did you know that red bell pepper, cup for cup, has more vitamin C than an orange? One cup of orange wedges is approximately 159% of your Daily Value and one cup of red bell pepper is approximately 195% of your daily value. Some other vitamin C powerhouses are broccoli at 135% DV for one cup, green bell pepper at 123%, cauliflower at 85%, and bok choy at 52%.
Sources of Vitamin E
It’s time to go nuts! Almonds, cashews and peanuts are all great sources of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant. And don’t forget avocados. While they are technically a fruit, they pack 14% of your DV into one half. Seeds like pumpkin and sunflower are good sources as well. And if you have nut or seed allergies, all hope is not lost for vitamin E. Vegetables like red bell pepper, butternut squash, broccoli, asparagus and spinach all bring some E to the party.
Plant-based sources of Zinc
Zinc helps ward off invading viruses and bacteria while it’s also assisting in making protein and DNA. Legumes, nuts and whole grains are great plant-based sources of zinc. This includes foods like beans, chickpeas and lentils; and nuts like almonds, cashews and peanuts; plus seeds like pumpkin and sunflower.
Adding seasonings to your dishes not only enhances the flavor profile but also provides an opportunity to increase the immune-boosting power. Garlic, turmeric, ginger, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon are all wonderful flavor enhancers that double as immune-boosting spices.
Immune-boosting Plant-based Foods and Recipes
Check out the twelve recipes below that each include three or more of the immune-boosting plant-based foods from above. Remember, stay calm and eat plants!
And for many more palate-pleasing and nutrient-dense recipes, check out my debut cookbook Eat Well, Be Well coming to retailers April 7, 2020. Preorder your copy now!