Quick Links | Eat Wise


Your immune system can use all the help it can get. Even when it’s not cold and flu season, or when the novel coronavirus is a raging threat, keeping your immunity in good shape is a smart idea. In addition to practicing well-studied healthy habits including getting adequate sleep, prioritising exercise, and using stress-relieving strategies, you can supercharge your immune system by noshing on nutrient-rich foods. For better immunity, here are some of the best foods to put on your plate:

Seafood that Offers Immune-Boosting Omega-3 Fatty Acids

The omega-3 fatty acids found in some types of fish such as salmon, sardines, herring, and mackerel help enhance the functioning of immune cells. DHA, a type of omega-3, may enhance the activity of white blood cells, which further strengthens immunity.

Healthy Proteins Bolster Disease-Fighting WBC

Zinc is a mineral abundant in meats like oysters, poultry, seafood and lamb and works with the protin found in meat to strengthen the immune system. In fact, certain types of immune cells, including white blood cells, can’t function without zinc. Whether you get your protein from lean meats or vegan or vegetarian options such as tofu, making sure you get some at every meal is helpful for keeping your energy and your strength up. The recommended daily allowance or minimum amount needed for protein is 0.8 grams (g) per kilogram of body weight.

For the most heart-healthy option, choose lean protein which has 55 calories and 2 to 3 g of fat per serving.

Dark Chocolate’s Magnesium Strengthens Antibodies

Plenty of vitamins and minerals play a role when it comes to immune function, but one particular standout is magnesium. Your immune system is made up of numerous components, including proteins like antibodies, lymphocytes and macrophages, which all work together to repel invaders like viruses. Magnesium plays an important role by improving how each of these protein types function.

It is known to help lymphocytes bind to invaders so they can be removed from the body and helps prevent antibodies from being impaired. There’s a breadth of foods with ample amounts of magnesium, from pumpkin seeds and spinach to avocados and brown rice.

Perhaps the sweetest surprise on that list? Dark chocolate. Just keep in mind that indulging in moderation is crucial.

Citrus and Leafy Greens Provide Vitamin C

Vitamin C may help protect the body against oxidative stress, and that helps support immune function. Oxidative stress happens when there is an imbalance of healthy antioxidants and harmful substances called free radicals in the body. Oxidative stress is associated with an increased risk of various health conditions, including stokes, cancer and  diabetes.

As a type of antioxidant, vitamin C is a free radical scavenger and enhances immunity by supporting cellular function, among other benefits.

Choose foods that are loaded with this vitamin. Foods with vitamin C include oranges, lemons, strawberries, blueberries, tomatoes, broccoli, leafy greens like kale, and bell peppers. To help retain vitamin C in your food, enjoy it raw when possible. Vitamin C is heat sensitive, so cooking can reduce the amount of this nutrient that your body can take in.

Nuts and Seeds Supply Immunity-Supportive Vitamin E, Selenium, and Magnesium

For a filling snack that’s also a big-time help to your immune system, reach for a handful of nuts or seeds. Not only do they have magnesium, but they’re also rich with vitamin E, an antioxidant that’s been shown to improve the body’s ability to fight off bacteria and viruses. Plus, it doesn’t take much to get the benefits.

Sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, and pecans can give you that vitamin E boost with just a small handful, and they’re a tasty addition to salads. One caveat to keep in mind is that portion control is essential when it comes to nuts. They’re a healthy food but are calorie dense, so overindulgence could contribute to weight gain.

Garlic and Onions Contain Antiviral Properties

Garlicgets that distinctive smell from sulfur compounds. Regardless of whether you love the aroma, it offers protective benefits to your health and immune response. That’s because when garlic is crushed or chopped, it produces allicin known for its antiviral and antibacterial properties.

Onions have a substance called quercetin which may help regulate histamine response and contains antiviral properties.

Looking for a powerful immune-driven dinner? Whip up some fresh pasta sauce with garlic and onions, plus tomatoes for that vitamin C addition.

Yogurt Aids Gut Health

Yogurt is rich in probiotics, the good bacteria that support gut health. A huge proportion of the immune system is actually in the gastrointestinal tract. Eating yogurt daily can improve immune function because it increases the body’s production of antibodies that fight off viruses.