We’ve talked before about super foods on our BBBlog and we’re going to do it again. Hopefully, cold and flu season are winding down (fingers crossed!) but we know some of you linger on and it’s no fun. So, how about eating some good food AND feeling better? Good idea, right? That’s what we thought; so here is a list of super (and delicious!) foods that give your immune system a boost and help you fight off colds.
Oily fish, like salmon, tuna and mackerel, have loads of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are known to reduce inflammation, which over time, can weaken the immune system and make you more susceptible to colds and flu. In a placebo-controlled 2011 study published in Brain, Behavior and Immunity, med students took omega-3 supplements for 3 months and found, not just decreases in inflammation, but in anxiety as well. Anxiety is also known to weaken the functionality of the immune system. So, get fishing (or at least take some supplements).
Here’s one I bet you didn’t think of. People attribute all sorts of powers to oysters but the truth of the matter is that they are rich in zinc, popular super hero against the common cold. A study published in a Canadian medical journal in 2012 asserts that zinc lozenges appear to shorten the duration of cold symptoms in adults. The drawback to zinc supplements? They have a track record of stomach upset and headaches, so it may be better to go straight to the source, and the source doesn’t get better than oysters. They have more zinc per serving than any other food, but they also carry the risk of bacteria if eaten raw. Your best bet is to cook them up and eat your way to your recommended daily allowance.
Smells bad, works good. Consider this your garlic mantra and start eating. Garlic has allicin, a sulfuric compound that packs an antioxident whollop when it decomposes. A 2001 study in Advances in Therapy found that people who took garlic supplements for 12 weeks during the months of November through February had less colds than those who took a placebo, AND of the participants who did get sick, the people who took their garlic like good little boys and girls got better faster. To get the most antioxidants out of your garlic, chomp it raw. Chances are you won’t be able to eat enough Italian food to do the job, so if you can’t stomach a mouthful of raw garlic, do yourself a favor and buy some aged-garlic extract capsules.
Skinless Turkey Breast
Time for a club sandwich? We all know that we need lean protein to build muscle, but we also need it to muscle up our immune system. Lean proteins help us build antibodies and fight infection in our bodies. You can get your lean protein from turkey, chicken and pork, and from non-meat sources like beans, nuts and dairy.
Any way you can get them—bar or bowl—eat up. Oats contain a type of fiber called beta-glucan, which is known for its cholesterol-lowering properties and its immune-boosting powers. Studies in animals have shown that beta-glucan can reduce the risk of upper respiratory infections and can alter white blood cell activity in humans. Oatmeal never sounded so good, huh?
Carrots and Sweet Potatoes
Babies love them and so should you, but you have even more reason to. Orange fruits and veggies are high in beta-carotene. When we eat things with beta-carotene in them, our bodies convert this organic compound into Vitamin A which is a must for a healthy immune system. Vitamin A helps to keep the mucous membranes that line our nose and throat (think of these as your first line of defense against germs) healthy and functioning properly. Orange is the “It Color” for fighting colds and flu.
More “Supes” to help you fight the good fight against colds and flu: anise seeds (make a tea!), citrus fruits, fennel (again, tea is a good way to get this), yogurt and kefir, tea, red peppers, milk, mushrooms, leafy greens, blueberries, dark chocolate, Brazil nuts, and sunflower seeds. Feeling like something’s sneaking up on you but you can’t miss work? Come see us at Brown Bag for breakfast and/or lunch to load up on your favorite super foods. We have many of these lovelies on our menu everyday to help you stay healthy, feel better, and eat right—and you’ll enjoy every bite. “Eat your vegetables (and fruits and lean proteins)” never tasted so good!