10 foods to help you avoid a cold
Want to remain fighting fit this winter? Here are 10 powerful immune-boosting foods you should try and include in your diet.
1. Red capsicum
We often turn to the OJ for our vitamin hit but did you know red capsicum has double the amount of vitamin C than citrus fruits? Naturally boost your immunity by including capsicum in salads, on home-made pizza and in casseroles, stir-fries and soups.
Other terrific - but often overlooked - sources of vitamin C are kiwi fruit, blackcurrants and strawberries. In veggies, go for broccoli, kale and brussells sprouts.
You've probably been hearing a lot about gut health, our individual 'Microbiome' and how important it is to our wellbeing. Probiotics found in yogurt are healthy bacteria that aid digestion. And since around 60-70% of our immune system lies in our gastrointestinal tract, a healthy 'gut' can also mean a healthy, sneeze-free winter.
Not all yogurts contain the same health properties, so look carefully for ones that contain "live" cultures, including lactobactillius and acidophillus. And steer clear of brands filled with sugar, flavours and artificial sweetners, which can contain as many calories as icecream.
3. Honey & lemon
This age-old combination is not only soothing when you've already got a cold - it can also be protective too. Lemons are high in vitamin C, while honey contains many bioactive plant compounds and antioxidants, and is a natural antibacterial. Some people theorise that raw local honey or manuka honey has more health benefits, but any good-quality honey in tea with a squeeze of lemon is a sure-fire winter winner.
4. Green tea
Used in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine, green tea is packed with antioxidants which can help your body fight colds. Consider replacing one cup of coffee a day with a green tea during winter for a health hit to fortify your system.
5. Sweet Potatoes
Now here's a veggie that really shines in winter. This delicious, sweet root vegetable is an excellent source of Vitamin A and a very good source of Vitamin C. It's also high in fibre and low in fat and adds a delicious difference to recipes when used in place of potatoes. Try cottage pie with sweet potato mash, home-baked sweet potato oven wedges, or "hassleback" sweet potatoes!
Not only does garlic add delicious flavour to meals, it's also known for its ability to fight illness. In one study it was found a high dose of garlic extract reduced the number of days sick with cold or flu by 61%. Choose fresh or crushed garlic and add liberally to spaghetti bolegnaise sauce, slow cooker chilli, curries, soups and stir fries.
More than just a spice that adds colour and flavour to curry, Tumeric is one of the world's most potent sources of Curcumin, which has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
You can get tumeric lattes ('golden lattes') at some cafes, but more popular ways of taking tumeric include in tablet form, or in delicious, warming Indian or Sri Lankan curries.
Salmon provides the body with tons of immune-boosting omega-3s, protein, vitamin E, and calcium. Try swapping tired chicken dishes for baked or stir fried salmon two to three times a week throughout flu season.
Some ideas include baked salmon & cherry tomatoes with cauliflower puree & asparagus, or a salmon & soba noodle stir fry.
As a winter snack - or an anytime snack - almonds really have it all. They're portable, and they're a natural source of many essential nutrients, including protein and healthy fats. They're high in fibre and a good source of magnesium and Vitamin E. Plus, out of all the nuts they're one of the lowest in calories. But still stick to a small serving at a time because all nuts are high in energy.
10. Brussels Sprouts
Let's be honest, how long has it been since you've had a brussels sprout? If you haven't since childhood, might be time to give them another try. Why? Because a half-cup serving of brussels sprouts contains about half your RDI of Vitamin C. And, this much-maligned vegetable can actually be delicious with a bit of imagination. Try stir frying with some bacon, roasting then tossing in a salad with a vinegarette, pecans and cranberries, or even try them in soups. Here's some delicious ideas here.