If you want to keep your immune system healthy and prevent flu and colds, you might want to try a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. This is because these foods contain antioxidants that help strengthen the immune system and ward off infections like flu and colds.
Let’s take a closer look at what are antioxidants and in which foods they are found.
Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that repair and protect cells from the harm created by free radicals. Many experts think that this damage plays a significant function in a number of chronic diseases, including arthritis, hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis) and cancer. Free radicals can also deteriorate the immune system. In contrast with free radicals, antioxidants help to maintain the strength of the immune system and protect you against colds, flu and other infections.
Although adding an assortment of fruits and vegetables to your diet will help to improve your health, you should remember that some foods are richer in antioxidant content than others. The three main antioxidant vitamins are vitamin C, beta-carotene and vitamin E. It is more likely to find these vitamins in fruits and vegetables which are brightly colored, mainly in foods colored purple, blue, red, orange and yellow. To take full advantage of the healthful effects of antioxidants, these foods should be consumed raw or slightly steamed. Do not overcook and do not boil these foods.
Beta-carotene and other carotenoids come from broccoli, asparagus, beets, apricots, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, cabbage, green pepper, mangoes, turnips, peaches, pink grapefruit, tangerines, spinach, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, tomatoes and watermelon.
Vitamin C can be found in cantaloupe, broccoli, brussels sprouts, berries, cauliflower, mangoes, honeydew, kale, grapefruit, nectarines, oranges, tomatoes, peppers (green, yellow and red), peas, sweet potatoes, strawberries and papaya.
Foods rich in vitamin E are broccoli, carrots, beets, turnips, mango, dried fruit, pumpkin, papaya, red peppers, sunflower seeds and spinach.
For a diet richer in antioxidants, you may also enjoy the benefits of honey, prunes, apples, raisins, berries, plum, red grapes, alfalfa sprouts, onions, eggplant and beans. Vitamins are not the only type of antioxidants present in foods. Other antioxidants that can help strengthen the immune system are zinc and selenium. Zinc is found in dairy products, red meat, poultry, beans, nuts, seafood, oysters, fortified cereals and whole grains. Selenium is found in brazil nuts, tuna, beef, poultry, fortified bread and other cereal products.
Most antioxidant-rich foods will help to keep optimal health and proper functioning of the immune system. It is advisable to consume the recommended daily intake of antioxidant vitamins and minerals. If you cannot obtain a sufficient quantity of fresh produce, many experts suggest taking a multivitamin that also contains minerals. Be careful if you decide to take a supplement to strengthen your immune system. Antioxidants such as vitamins E and A, for example, are accumulated in the body and eliminated slowly. An excessive amount of antioxidants can be harmful.
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Which Foods are Antioxidant-rich?