Remember when your mother told you to eat your fruits and vegetables? Well, Dr. Mom may have been on to something. Experts recommend a varied diet of at least six servings a day of healthy fruits and vegetables. Now that fall is here, try incorporating seasonal, nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables into your daily diet. These six fall fruits and vegetables are also immunity boosters, and will help keep your health up.
Immunity Booster #1: Cranberries
Cranberries are one of the best berries for your health. They are high in nutrients and antioxidants, and are easy to incorporate into your diet. You can add cranberries to muffins, yogurt or salads or just eat them plain. You can also take supplements or drink cranberry juice.
Studies have shown a wide variety of health benefits linked to eating cranberries, including:
- Prevention of urinary tract infections and stomach ulcers
- Protection against stroke, cardiovascular disease and breast cancer
- Healthy mouth and teeth, including the ability to reduce inflammation of the gums
- Regular digestive function
- Reduction in the risk of chronic inflammation in the stomach and large intestine
Immunity Booster #2: Sweet Potatoes
Just as orange is the new black, orange root vegetables like sweet potatoes are back in fashion. Sweet potatoes are packed with 120 percent of the daily value of immune-boosting vitamin A, not to mention the added value of fiber. They are also cholesterol- and fat-free and low in calories. A favorite around the holidays, these sweet tubers also provide 30 percent of the daily value of vitamin C. Furthermore, eat them year-round and you’ll ward off cold and flu infections.
Sweet potatoes are high in carotenoids, which can lower the risk of heart disease and cancer. Their antioxidants can help slow the aging process by improving skin health and vision. And sweet potatoes are a less starchy alternative to white potatoes. If you don’t love them plain, try making sweet potato fries or using sweet potatoes in casseroles, soups and pies.
Immunity Booster #3: Pumpkin
Another orange star in the fruit lineup is pumpkin. Who doesn’t enjoy pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving? But before you throw away the seeds, consider them as an alternative to sunflower seeds. Heart-healthy pumpkin seeds are a great source of minerals, vitamin C, protein, iron, folate, antioxidants, zinc and omega-3 fatty acids. All of this without the cholesterol makes pumpkins one of the top fruits to boost immunity. Not only do pumpkin seeds provide immune support, they improve prostate, heart, and liver health and even improve sleep. In addition to using it in pies, pumpkin can be served in casseroles, stews and soups.
Immunity Booster #4: Pomegranates
Can the anti-aging properties of pomegranates really help you live longer and healthier? Possibly
Pomegranates contain high levels of antioxidants, vitamin C, and other vitamins and minerals that are immunity boosters. These nutritional components can also help your heart health and even fight cancer. They are also low in calories and high in fiber, so pomegranates not only help with weight loss.
You can find pomegranate juice, pomegranate seeds and pomegranate-based supplements in almost any grocery. The easiest (but also the most expensive) way to get your pomegranate punch, is to buy pomegranate juice (preferably without added sweeteners). While juices contain high concentrations of pomegranate, they also tend to have a strong, almost bitter taste.
Immunity Booster #5: Mushrooms
Button mushrooms are one of the top immunity boosters. One study showed that eating a shiitake mushroom a day has beneficial changes in your immune system. Mushrooms are high in selenium and B vitamins like riboflavin and niacin and sugar-like molecules that boost immune function. And mushrooms are a staple for chefs. Whether you sauté, grill or roast them, or add them to soups and salads, they’ll pack a nutritional punch.
There are specific mushroom species that help fight cancer. These are called medicinal mushrooms. Examples of these types include turkey tail mushrooms, maitake and reishi. Primarily, these medicinal mushrooms serve to boost the immune system. However, medicinal mushrooms also have antiviral and tumor-reducing properties.
Immunity Booster #6: Apples
With its powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-allergenic benefits, the old adage about an apple a day keeping the doctor away may be true. Because apple skin and berries contain bioflavonoids, they aid the immune system and reduce cholesterol’s ability to clog arteries. Full of antioxidants and vitamin C, apples have been linked to such health benefits as stabilizing blood sugar, reducing cholesterol, lowering the risks of cancer and asthma. Furthermore, they can prevent the onset of macular degeneration and Alzheimer’s disease.
By adding fruits and vegetables that are immunity boosters into your diet, you can look forward to a healthier fall and winter to come. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about adding any of these fruits and vegetables to your diet. If you need a doctor, call 513-952-5000 or visit mercy.com to find a primary care physician near you today.
To integrate these fruits into a meal, try adding apples, pomegranates or cranberries to our easy salad recipe.