Nutrition

14 Top Winter Superfoods | Foods for the Immune System

Superfoods: to those not in the know they’re a fad diet, to others they’re the best worst-kept secret. In fact, they’re nutrient-rich, natural sources of the vitamins, antioxidants and unsaturated fats that help to boost your immune system and fight the infections and bacteria that make you feel under the weather in the colder months.

So, which do you need to add to your shopping list this winter?

Carrots

Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A. Vitamin A is one of the best nutrients when it comes to a healthy functioning immune system.

Wheat germ

Wheat germ is rich in B vitamins, iron, zinc and vitamin E, which is an invaluable antioxidant that supports your body’s immune response. Wheat germ is a versatile ingredient, too, welcome in everything from muffins and cereals to salads and bread dough.

Garlic

Name one meal that wasn’t made better with garlic in it. See, you can’t. But did you also know that eating a couple of cloves a day can keep the doctors away by helping your immune system fight seasonal germs?

Natural yoghurt

Natural plain yoghurt is a top source of probiotics, the good bacteria that improve the health of your guts. Probiotics help with immunity by protecting you against viruses that affect your digestive tract. The sky is the limit when it comes to recipes. Natural yoghurt works with fruit, jams or when mixed in with savoury food.

Fennel

This winter veg is low in calories and high in the immune system-boosting phytonutrient anethole, of which it has plenty. Fennel is also known for its high vitamin C content. This stuff can be eaten raw, too, making it perfect for salads when you’re not up for cooking.

Salmon

Salmon is full of vitamin D, which the average person suffers a lack of in the cold, dark months of winter.

Eggs

Let’s face it, eggs are good for you all year round, but especially in the winter when your immune system needs a boost. The ample protein, B vitamins, vitamins A, D and zinc available in eggs make them your go-to winter fuel, which will also help with gains when you’re feeling so strong you manage to get in a gym session.

Dark chocolate

This one is a freebie. If ever you needed an excuse, scoffing your Christmas chocolate is actually valuable for your immune function – if it’s cacao-based dark chocolate, that is. Okay, so nobody mentioned calories, but for fighting the winter germs cacao-based dark chocolate is one of the best natural sources of antioxidants, iron, magnesium and zinc.

Brussel sprouts

Another Christmas favourite, or least favourite, will keep you full with the good kind of carbs that your body needs to stay strong (along with all the nutrients you need more of to battle the cold).

Chia seeds

Chia seeds are tiny but also a mega source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty, perfect for snacking and keeping cravings at bay if you want to graze.

avocado on toast

Avocado

It’s a fruit, not a veg, and it is full of magnesium, potassium and monounsaturated fats. It helps to reduce bad cholesterol and tastes good on or with just about everything known to man. Stock up!

Kiwi

People head first to oranges for a better-known source of vitamin C, but kiwis actually have way more. The skin is an excellent source of fibre, too.

Broccoli

This one tips up in many a recommended healthy diet. High in antioxidants and vitamins, it’s way more diverse than most give it credit for. From Sunday roasts to stir-frys, to snacks, make broccoli part of your winter diet.

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Citrus

While you might think of lemons and limes as a tropical, summery garnish, they are a rich source of vitamin C that you should not neglect when your immune system is in need.

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Faye Reid

Faye Reid

Writer and expert

Faye has a MSc in Sport Physiology and Nutrition, and puts her passion into practice as goal attack for her netball team, and in competitive event riding. She enjoys a pun, and in her spare time loves dog walking and eating out.


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