There are so many to choose from! Aim for produce options high in Vitamins A and C, such as sweet potatoes, squash, beets, citrus fruits and broccoli!
While eating a well-balanced diet won’t cure all ailments and disease, it certainly helps to support an optimally functioning immune system, as well as contribute to overall energy levels. Nutrients like Vitamins A, C, D and E, zinc and omega 3 fatty acids are known for their powerful impact on the immune system.
Here are some of our favorite powerfully packed fruits and veggies that rise to the occasion.
These beautiful, purple root vegetables are a great source of carbohydrates and also provide Vitamin C and immune helper nutrients like B vitamins, folate and iron. Consider roasting beets as a healthy side dish, adding chopped beets to your salad, or throwing some beets in your smoothie or soup.
There are so many varieties of winter squash to choose from that will keep you from getting flavor fatigue. Some of our favorites include butternut, acorn, delicata, and spaghetti squash. Winter squash offer antioxidants like alpha-carotene and beta-carotene, as well as Vitamins A, C, B6, fiber, manganese, potassium and more. Roasting squash helps caramelize the interior flesh, making it naturally sweet. Roasted squash is also a great topping for salads.
Sweet potatoes are rich in both Vitamins A and C. One medium sweet potato helps to meet your daily recommendation of Vitamin A, and also provides manganese, potassium, B Vitamins, several antioxidants, and over 50% of your daily Vitamin C needs. Sweet potatoes are a very versatile food and can be even be made into sweet potato nachos or sweet potato turkey burgers.
Broccoli is a great vegetable high in Vitamins A, C and E. Raw broccoli offers a higher amount of bioavailable Vitamin C, while cooked broccoli releases more Vitamin A. Broccoli can be used in your favorite stir fry meals, salads or just roasted for an easy side.
Dark greens like spinach, kale, arugula and collard greens are high in Vitamins A, C and several antioxidants. You can add leafy greens to sandwiches, stir fries, or use them as your salad base. Leafy greens also have several other health benefits, too!
We typically think of oranges when we think of citrus fruits and Vitamin C, but orange juice, grapefruits, mandarins, lemons and limes are other citrus options. Opt for 100% orange juice fortified with Vitamin D to get more immune-boosting power. Add citrus fruits to your oatmeal, yogurt, or salads!
How can you include some of these power fruits and veggies this winter?
Sarah Schlichter, MPH, RDN