Powerhouse Foods to Turbo Charge Your Immune System
Did you know you can add food to your list of tools to stay healthy and boost your immune system? Phytochemicals are the active substances in plants that give them their color, flavor, odor, and protection against plant diseases. Phytochemicals work as powerful antioxidants, which can increase our resistance to disease and boost immunity.
While most research focuses on the anti-carcinogen effects of phytochemicals, the results are equally important to those who just want to boost their immune system or help reverse aging.
Scientists at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRC) rated 60 fruits and vegetables for potency of antioxidants, which stabilize cells and help fight the damaging effects of free radicals, molecules that weaken the immune system. Antioxidants can help keep cancer, heart disease and other degenerative conditions at bay.
The top scoring fruit in the HNRC study was blueberries followed by strawberries, prunes, black currants and boysenberries. The deeper the color, the better for you. Many of these antioxidants also have anti-inflammatory properties, and some naturally reduce blood cholesterol.
It's important to fill your diet with all the colors of the food rainbow. Eat the blues, reds, purples, oranges, yellows, and greens.
Great sources of phytochemicals include the following:
FRUITS: Apples, apricots, avocados, bananas, berries, cherries, citrus fruits, grapes, kiwi fruit, lemons, mangoes, melons, nectarines, oranges, papayas, peaches, pears, plums.
GRAINS: Barley, cornmeal, whole grain, quinoa, brown rice, wheat germ.
NUTS and SEEDS: Flaxseed (a small brown seed used in cooking), macadamia, pecans, sesame seeds, walnuts.
VEGETABLES: Asparagus, beans, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, celery, cauliflower, corn, eggplant, dark leafy greens and lettuces, mushrooms, onions, green and dried peas, sweet and hot peppers, white and sweet potatoes, pumpkin, soybeans, watercress, winter squash, tomatoes, and a host of others.