Including a variety of antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables in your daily diet is one of the best opportunities you have to support your immune system while it works to keep you healthy.
We know that long lists of foods to add to your diet can be overwhelming, so this week we’ve focused on just 5 of the best bang-for-your-antioxidant fruit and veg for you to start getting creative with.
Broccoli is packed with vitamins A, C, E and potent antioxidants such as sulforaphane, making this green veg a favourite immune supporter. Broccoli is very versatile, but avoid overcooking it to keep those nutrients intact. Try lightly steaming and tossing with olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to serve as a side-dish. Or try one of our new favourite recipes, Broccoli Spoon Salad With Warm Vinaigrette – YUM!
Sweet potatoes are a great source of betacarotene, which is what gives them their orange colour.They keep for ages, wrapped and stored in the fridge, which makes them more like a pantry staple than other veg. Add them to any soup, curry or casserole. For a quick and delicious lunch, cut a sweet potato per person in half lengthways and steam, microwave or roast until tender. Top with a pat of butter or drizzle of olive oil and any topping you like: toasted seeds or nuts, chickpeas, steamed brocccoli – add some grated cheese if you like.
Mushrooms are a rich source of the mineral selenium and the B vitamins riboflavin and niacin, which are all essential for immunity. Mushrooms are really versatile and easy to cook with: no washing or peeling needed! Enjoy them sautéed with garlic and herbs, or added to a risotto, curry, omelette or pasta sauce.
Kiwi fruits are full of vitamins C and K, zinc and other essential nutrients such as folate and potassium. Kiwi fruits have one of the highest levels of vitamin C, which helps our white blood cells to fight infections. Stuck for ideas to use kiwi fruit? Look no further than these clever Raw Kiwi Fruit Nachos – they’re unexpectedly good!
Blueberries have one of the highest antioxidant levels of all fruit and veg. They contain an antioxidant called anthocyanin which plays an essential role in the respiratory tract’s immune defence system. Blueberries also contain plenty of vitamin C and zinc – so it’s not surprising they have made the list! Try adding blueberries to smoothies, to top your morning muesli, or as the perfect pick-me-up afternoon snack.
As well as being important for immune health, research has found that increasing the amount of fruit and veg you eat can boost mood and mental wellbeing – now that’s a very nice bonus.6
6. ScienceDaily. Fruit and Vegetables may be Important for Mental as well as Physical Well-Being. Available from https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/02/190205144450.htm. Accessed April 2020.