Super Foods for Optimal Health
One of the best ways to keep your immune system strong is to shop your supermarket’s produce aisle.
Fruits and vegetables are rich in nutrients called antioxidants that are good for your immune system -- and the rest of you.
What to Eat
Add more fruit and vegetables of any kind to your diet. It'll help your health. Some foods are higher in antioxidants than others, though.
The three major antioxidant vitamins are beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E. You’ll find them in colorful fruits and vegetables, especially those with purple, blue, red, orange, and yellow hues.
Beta-carotene and other carotenoids: Apricots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, green peppers, kale, mangoes, turnip and collard greens, nectarines, peaches, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, squash, spinach, sweet potato, tangerines, tomatoes, and watermelon
Vitamin C: Berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, honeydew, kale, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, orange, papaya, red, green, or yellow peppers, snow peas, sweet potato, strawberries, and tomatoes
Vitamin E: Broccoli, carrots, chard, mustard and turnip greens, mangoes, nuts, papaya, pumpkin, red peppers, spinach, and sunflower seeds
These foods are also rich in antioxidants:
- All berries
- Red grapes
- Alfalfa sprouts
Other antioxidants that can help keep you healthy include:
Zinc: Found in oysters, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, seafood, whole grains, fortified cereals, and dairy products
Selenium: Found in Brazil nuts, tuna, beef, poultry, fortified breads, and other grain products
Cooking tip: To get the biggest benefits of antioxidants, eat these foods raw or lightly steamed. Don’t overcook or boil them.
How Foods Help Keep an Immune System Healthy
Can’t you get antioxidants from taking a vitamin or a supplement? Yes, but you may miss out on other nutrients.
Foods naturally have many different nutrients that work together to boost health.
If you can’t get enough antioxidants in your diet by eating fresh produce, some experts recommend taking a multivitamin that contains minerals, too. But chances are, you can get what you need from your diet. If you aren't sure, check with your doctor or a dietitian so you get the right amount.