5 Winter Foods to Boost Immunity

Written by Dr. Veena Madhankumar and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team

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The winter season is associated with the cold and flu, as these viral infections peak during the winter months and continue till fall. We all know that we have to be extra careful with our health during winter, but now with the added risk of COVID-19, boosting immunity should be everybody’s priority. Luckily, winter is also the season when superfoods that help boost the immune system are available.

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While consuming these foods will not necessarily cure all diseases or disorders, it will definitely support the immune system and improve its ability to overcome these diseases. Nutrients such as vitamin A, C, D, and E, omega-3 fatty acids, and zinc are known to impact the immune system greatly. Including the following superfoods that are rich in nutrients is the easiest and most effective way to boost immunity this winter.

1. Beetroots

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Beetroot, a popular and deep-colored root vegetable, is a great source of carbohydrates, vitamin C, folate, vitamin B, and iron, which are nutrients that help the immune system. They also contain nitrates, which improve oxygen consumption and energy production in cells, thus affecting physical performance. Beetroots can be roasted or added to salads or smoothies.

2. Winter Squash

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Various winter squash varieties are available, such as butternut, delicata, acorn, spaghetti, and kabocha squash. They are loaded with antioxidants (alpha-carotene and beta-carotene) and also vitamins A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, fiber, potassium, and manganese. Winter squash seeds, just like pumpkin seeds, are rich in fiber and can be eaten roasted.

3. Leafy Greens

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Dark green vegetables like kale, spinach, arugula, etc., add great nutrients to your diet. They are high in vitamin A, vitamin C, and antioxidants, which naturally reduce inflammation in the body and prevent chronic diseases. Add enough protein and carbohydrates to leafy greens to get sufficient calories and boost immunity.

4. Sweet Potatoes

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These vibrant potatoes are rich in vitamins A and vitamin C. Along with these vitamins, sweet potatoes are also rich in potassium, B vitamins, manganese, and antioxidants. A medium-sized sweet potato is enough to fulfill the body’s daily requirement of Vitamin A and more than 50 % of Vitamin C needs. Sweet potatoes also provide you energy as they contain carbohydrates. You can bake them or boil and eat them.

5. Citrus Fruits

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Grapefruits, oranges, and sweet limes are a great source of vitamin C, and people often consume them when they experience symptoms of cold and flu. They are said to lower the severity of viral infections and help the immune system fight off the virus. But, they do not prevent these infections. You can either eat an orange as a snack or drink orange juice with your breakfast. You can also add citrus fruits to your smoothies and salads.

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