One of the best ways to kick ailments to the curb is by maintaining a healthy immune system. Let’s take a look at the top 10 vegetables that you can eat to help your body fight off illnesses.
Like many of the other vegetables on this list, carrots contain vitamin C, a powerful anti-oxidant that neutralizes free oxygen radicles that are prevalent in urban and polluted environments. These free radicles cause damage to body cells and inflammation. A diet high in vitamin C can help limit the damage caused by these free radicles and keep your immune system in optimum condition.
The red pigment in the skin of the pepper develops in response to sun exposure and protects the pepper from sun damage. The antioxidant known as capsanthin gives the pepper its red hue and the compound has numerous health benefits, including cancer prevention. In addition, red bell peppers are jam-packed with vitamins and minerals, including vitamins C, B6 and K1. Adequate intake of these compounds contributes to maintaining a healthy immune system.
The ginger root has strong anti-inflammatory properties which can help ease mild pain. Ginger is also known for its anti-emetic effects so it can also be used to ease nausea. The root also has antiviral properties. When eaten fresh, the ginger appears to stimulate the respiratory cells, which release an anti-viral protein known as ‘interferon-beta’. This compound is believed to be able to prevent certain respiratory infections.
This leafy green has very high quantities of vitamin C and various antioxidants. Antioxidants play a vital role in protecting body cells from environmental damage. Antioxidants also encourage the production of white blood cells, which fight bacterial infections. The specific antioxidants found in spinach are specifically good at protecting the enzymes that function in DNA manufacturing and repair processes. Therefore, eating spinach can potentially help a person recover from an illness.
This leafy vegetable is packed full of goodness. The fibre, antioxidant, vitamin and mineral content has allowed kale to reach the status of ‘superfood’. Fibre is believed to play a role in type 2 diabetes prevention and lowering LDL cholesterol levels. However, individuals with heart disease and blood-clotting problems should avoid excess kale consumption due to the high levels of potassium found in the vegetable.
Some studies have found a link between daily mushroom intake and a boosted immune system. Blood samples taken post-experiment showed that when individuals at 100 grams of shitake mushrooms daily, immune fighting T-cells functioned better and the number of inflammatory proteins decreased1.
These little cloves give quite a punch, one full of compounds that boost health. Allicin, which garlic has large quantities of, plays an important role in maintaining a healthy, resilient immune system. Eating garlic can also contribute to the lowering of blood pressure and enhances artery function, which benefits heart health.
The green florets are loaded with a vast array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Eating just a cup full of broccoli goes a long way to meeting the daily requirements of Vitamins C and K. Some studies suggest that broccoli may also play a role in cancer prevention. It is also believed that the fibre can help prevent heart disease and maintain a healthy digestive system.
Best eaten raw, beetroots boast high levels of folate. Folate plays an important role in anaemia prevention by maintaining the integrity of red blood cells and as a result, adequate oxygen transport throughout the body. The iron content will also contribute to oxygenated red blood cells. The manganese content also plays a role in the synthesis of the antioxidant known as superoxide dismutase, which can help prevent certain cancers and heart disease.
There are many benefits of eating sweet potatoes. This vegetable is an amazing source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Sweet potatoes are especially high in vitamins A and C, and other important minerals like manganese. When selecting your sweet potatoes, rather choose the orange and purple fleshed varieties. Antioxidants are responsible for the characteristic hues and can scavenge free radicals that may lead to the development of cancer and heart disease.
And there you have it, our top 10 vegetables that can boost your immune system. Remember, this list is by no means a dietary solution to prevent viral and bacterial infections, but instead aims to give individuals tips for supplementing their diets with healthier options. Any major diet modifications should be approved by a health care professional first.
Xiaoshuang Dai, Joy M. Stanilka, Cheryl A. Rowe, Elizabethe A. Esteves, Carmelo Nieves, Samuel J. Spaiser, Mary C. Christman, Bobbi Langkamp-Henken, Susan S. Percival. Consuming Lentinula edodes( Shiitake) Mushrooms Daily Improves Human Immunity: A Randomized Dietary Intervention in Healthy Young Adults. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 2015; 1 DOI: 10.1080/07315724.2014.950391