5 Ingredients To Give Your Immune System An Antioxidant Boost

5 Ingredients To Give Your Immune System An Antioxidant Boost


As colder weather rolls in, so does cold and flu season. This is the perfect time to give your immune system a much needed boost. And it's as easy as eating the right foods — antioxidants are especially important this time of year.

University of Michigan researchers conducted a study in 2011 in which they infected 17 people with the flu but not everyone showed signs of sickness. This was due to how the participants took care of their bodies — namely, by consuming foods high in antioxidants. Another study from 2009 conducted by researchers in Alabama showed the same thing — antioxidants prevented the flu virus from doing too much damage to subjects' bodies.

What these studies underscore is the fact that eating lots of vegetables and fruits can help your body prevent disease and sickness. Perhaps you already eat healthy most of time and could use a few powerhouse foods to add to your diet? The list below contains some ingredients that can kick-up the flavor in your meals, as well as the antioxidant potency. While we should mention that none of these foods or spices can cure the cold or flu, it certainly doesn’t hurt to ratchet-up your body’s defenses this time of year simply by consuming a few extra ingredients.

Chia Seeds have been grown in Mexico for thousands of years. For ancient Mayan and Aztec peoples, the seeds were an important part of their diet. Today, we think of the '90s Chia Pet — it's the seed from that plant which has grown in popularity recently within health food circles. The seeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, but did you know they also contain antioxidants? The amount of antioxidants in the seeds have been compared to blueberries, another antioxidant powerhouse. Mix Chia seeds into yogurt, smoothies, juice, muffins, or sprinkle on salads.

Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. A relative of ginger, it’s widely used in Indian food and has a bright yellow color. Add it to vegetables, scrambled eggs, or sprinkle it on chicken. The National Institutes of Health have conducted 24 studies on the benefits of curcumin, the active component in Turmeric. The studies suggest curcumin may slow the spread of breast cancer into lung cancer and inhibit melanoma; other studies theorize the presence of turmeric in Indian food is the reason why the rate of Alzheimers in the country is so low.

Garlic contains an antioxidant that one group of researchers said was “the world's most powerful antioxidant.” Called allicin, it is believed to trap free radicals in the body that cause heart disease, cancer, and numerous ailments. Garlic has also been shown to prevent the common cold. This is an easy one to eat since it complements so many foods — cook it with meat or poultry, add it to salads, pastas and rice, or use it to create sauces and dressings. Create a delicious spread for bread or crackers by roasting it with olive oil.

Cinnamon is a spice taken from the bark of a tropical tree. Cinnamon has been compared to blueberries in terms of antioxidant power: 1 teaspoon of cinnamon equals ½ cups of blueberry in terms of antioxidants. Cinnamon is also a great anti-inflammatory. Add cinnamon to oatmeal, smoothies, warm milk, or bake into muffins.

Raw cacao powder will make you swear off processed cacao permanently. Not only does raw cacao have a type of antioxidant called flavanoids, but it tastes very chocolate-y when combined with something sweet. Anthocyanidin is one type of flavonoid that works to reduce free radicals. It is found in high quantities in cacao, more so than black tea, green tea, or red wine. Try blending raw cacao poweder with coconut milk, a banana, several pitted dates, plus lots of ice for a sweet afternoon treat.  

What antioxidant-rich foods do you eat to boost your immune system?

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