The thought of eating to boost your immune system may conjure up less-than-thrilling images of garlic and broccoli on repeat. But there are plenty of tasty foods proven to help your body fight off viral and bacterial infections.
As a nutritionist and recipe developer, I'm all about creating meals and snacks that help people stay healthy. While no foods have been linked specifically to fighting off the coronavirus, a good diet definitely plays a role in keeping your immune system strong.
Here are my five favorite immunity-boosting recipes I've been making during Covid-19 to stay happy, healthy and full:
This delicious drink wears its greens proudly with a hefty dose of fresh spinach, mixed with a sweet taste of fruit.
Sipping your greens in raw form has an added health benefit: You'll take in more nutrients than you would from cooked spinach, since heat can lower the amount of certain nutrients (including vitamin C) in green foods.
Lycopene, the signature antioxidant in tomatoes, is known for reducing inflammation — an important part of disease prevention. Plus, high levels of vitamin C found in the red fruits help protect against damage from free radicals, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Almonds (used to make the pesto sauce) are abundant in vitamin E, which helps keeps immune cells fit. Meanwhile, high protein content from the chicken helps regulates the body's immune response by activating defender cells and producing antibodies.
For the pesto:
For chicken and pasta:
You don't have to be a vegetarian to enjoy these hearty stuffed peppers; its zesty Mexican flavor, savory cheese topping and high protein from beans and rice will appeal even to hardcore carnivores.
You'll also reap plenty of immunity-boosting benefits: One medium red bell pepper contains 152 milligrams of vitamin C, which is nearly 170% of the recommended daily intake (RDI) for men, and over 200% RDI for women.
Salmon and kale get their "superfood" status for good reason. The omega-3 fatty acids in the pink fish reduce systemic inflammation, which research shows can help strengthen the body's disease-fighting response.
Kale supplies vitamin A, vitamin C, iron and zinc — all of which contribute to a healthy immune system, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Kale also has high levels of folate, one of the B-vitamins needed to make red and white blood cells in the bone marrow and convert carbohydrates into energy.
Sugar creates inflammation in the body, which won't do your immune system any favors. However, the right sweetener, like raw honey, can actually help fortify your defenses.
These creamy, low-sugar ice pops start with a yogurt base to provide immune-boosting probiotics. With mandarin oranges for vitamins C and A and a touch of honey for sweetness, they make for a post-meal indulgence that you can feel good about.
Sarah Garone, NDTR, is a nutritionist and food blogger. She has written for HealthDay, The Washington Post, Today's Parents, and several other publications. Sarah lives with her husband and three children in Mesa, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter @LoveLetter2Food.