Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that protect and repair cells from damage caused by free radicals. Many experts believe this damage plays a part in several chronic diseases including the hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), cancer, and arthritis. Free radicals can also interfere with your immune system. So fighting off damage with antioxidants helps keep your immune system strong, making you better able to ward off colds, flu, and other infections.
Antioxidants for Immunity
Where to Find them
Adding more fruits and vegetables of any kind in their right portions to your diet will improve your health. But some foods are higher than others. The three major antioxidants are BETA-CAROTENE, VITAMIN C, AND VITAMIN E. You will find them in colorful fruits and vegetables especially colors like purple, blue, red, orange, and yellow hues. (Its always advisable to eat a rainbow of fruits).
To get the biggest benefits of antioxidants, eat these foods raw or lightly steamed; don’t overcook or overboil.
Beta-carotene and other carotenoids: Apricots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, green peppers, mangoes, peaches, grapefruit, pumpkin, spinach, tangerine, watermelon, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, various edible green leaves.
Vitamin C: Berries(strawberries and blueberries), broccoli, kiwi, pineapple, oranges, mangoes, honeydew, papaya(pawpaw), red, green or yellow peppers, tomatoes, snow peas, grapefruit, sweet potatoes,
Vitamin E: Carrots, nuts(groundnuts, cashew nuts, almond nut, peanuts, etc) and seeds(chia seeds, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, etc) Pumpkin, red peppers, spinach, and greens.
Other superfoods that are rich in antioxidants include
Vitamins aren’t the only antioxidants in food. Other antioxidants that may help boost immunity include
Zinc; Found in oysters, red meat(size of a matchbox,) poultry, beans, nuts, seafood, whole grains, dairy products, beans, fortified cereals.
Selenium: Poultry(chicken, poultry), fish and shellfish, eggs, nuts, red meat,
HOW FOODS BOOST IMMUNITY
Can’t you get antioxidants from taking a vitamin or supplement???
Yes, but you may be missing out on other nutrients that could strengthen the immune system. Foods contain many nutrients that work together to promote health.
Researchers have discovered the mysteries of fruits and vegetables and the complex antioxidants they contain have discovered the benefits of
- Quercetin: a plant-based chemical (phytochemical) found in apples, onions, teas, red wines, etc. It fights inflammation and may help to reduce allergies.
- Luteolin: a flavonoid found in abundance in celery and green peppers. It helps protect against inflammatory brain conditions like Alzheimer’s
- Catechins: This compound is found in tea and may help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.