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5 Powerful Immunity-Boosting Foods

Updated on May 13, 2014
Winter vegetables fixing to get roasted
Winter vegetables fixing to get roasted | Source

Looking for Foods That Boost Your Immune System?

Winter vegetables are nature´s flu shot. They contain a wide range of nutrients that are effective in supporting your body´s ability to fight off seasonal sicknesses.

Add these tasty veggies to your daily meals to help keep colds and flu at bay. They can be used in a variety of dishes from savory to sweet, so it´s easy to find favorite recipes that include these amazing immunity boosters.

(#1) Winter Squash

Of all the winter vegetables, squash provide the most variety and versatility. They are rich in beta-carotene, a powerful disease-fighting antioxidant. Beta-carotene is also a precursor to vitamin A, meaning that your body changes the nutrient into fat-soluble vitamin.

A low percentage of beta-carotene is actually used to make vitamin A, but adding natural fats like butter or coconut oil to cooked squash helps support the conversion.

Winter squash is also rich in vitamin C, another nutrient known to support the immune system and prevent disease.

Butternut and pie pumpkin are two popular varieties that can be used in almost everything from soups to desserts. Other delectable favorites include acorn, delicata, and spaghetti squash. When making a choice at the market, pick a squash that seems heavy for its size.

Slice leeks open to get all of the soil out
Slice leeks open to get all of the soil out | Source

(#2) Leeks

Leeks are also a good source of vitamin C. Included in the same family as onions and garlic, leeks contain nutrients called organosulfur compounds.

These compounds may work as potent cancer fighters and promote the synthesis of glutathione. Glutathione is an antioxidant that helps the liver to filter out toxins.

Purchase small or medium-sized leeks for the best texture. Be sure to choose leeks with tops that look fresh and vibrant. Slice lengthwise and rinse thoroughly in order to remove the dirt that hides within the layers.

Use leeks to add hearty flavor to a host of comforting cold-weather dishes like potato leek soup or roasted root vegetables.

Belgian endive
Belgian endive | Source

(#3) Belgian Endive

Belgian endive is one of the most unique fall vegetables.

It works as a prebiotic, feeding beneficial bacteria that line the intestinal walls. This lining is your first defense against viruses and other pathogens that make you sick during flu season.

A little Belgian endive goes a long way, so use sparingly. Eat too much, and your meal may work as a laxative.

Belgian endive is a type of chicory. It adds a sharp flavor to stir fries, soups, or salads. Look for a perfect torpedo-shaped endive to use in a recipe.


(#4) Fennel

Fennel is loaded with cancer-fighting, inflammation-cooling phytonutrients.

These plant-based compounds enhance immune response and repair damaged cells.

Vitamin C-rich fennel is one of the best foods that boost your immune system.

Fennel´s white bulb, stalk, and thin leaves are all edible. Its mild licorice flavor provides a delicious compliment to other vegetables in salads, soups, and stews.

Sunchokes | Source

(#5) Sunchoke (Jerusalem Artichoke)

The sunchoke is a relative of the sunflower. Like Belgian endive, the sunchoke works as an effective prebiotic, feeding probiotic bacteria that live throughout your digestive tract to destroy illness-causing pathogens.

Again, a little goes a long way. Too much can cause embarrassing gastrointestinal issues, so it probably wouldn't be a good idea to include a big pan of roasted sunchoke in your next romantic dinner for two!

Like the potato, sunchokes are tubers, and they also have a skin that may be peeled or eaten.

Sunchoke looks like ginger root and it grows successfully in colder climates. Its sweet, nutty flavor works well with other roasted vegetables. With a texture that´s similar to a water chestnut, sunchoke adds nice texture to salad.

Winter Vegetables are a Tasty Way to Stay Healthy

As temperatures drop, cold and flu outbreaks rise. The best way to avoid getting sick is to take care of your body and do things to support your immune system, like eating vitamin-rich foods.

Seasonal plant foods provide effective natural protection against these harmful invaders.

The abundance of flavors, textures, and aromas provided by winter vegetables makes it a delight to create dishes with foods that boost your immune system.

© Liz Davis 2012 Foods That Boost Your Immune System

Do you have a favorite winter recipe?

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    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 4 years ago from Hudson, FL

      Too true! I like bitter vegetables, myself. Thanks so much, Sharkye :)

    • Sharkye11 profile image

      Jayme Kinsey 4 years ago from Oklahoma

      Never had endive, but it looks delicious. I love winter squash and leeks though! Great article, and very useful even in spring. We definitely don't like catching spring colds around here either! Voting up!

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 5 years ago from Hudson, FL

      Try finding a simple potato leek soup recipe. It's so good! Hurry, though, 'cause who knows how long this chilly soup weather is going to last! Thanks for stopping by--maybe I'll run into you at Publix :D

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Wow, I thought I've tried all vegetables at least once...ok, most veggies. From your list I've had fennel which I love in seed form and winter squash...yum! I'm adding leeks to my grocery list, they sound delish! I'll pick some up at Publix! ;)

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 5 years ago from Hudson, FL

      It's fun trying new foods--you never know when you'll find a new favorite! Thanks for stopping by, Louisa!

    • Louisa Rogers profile image

      Louisa Rogers 5 years ago from Eureka, California and Guanajuato, Mexico

      Radcliff, I love trg new veggies. Squash is a favorite! And fennel. But I have never cooked Belgian endive or Jerusalem artichoke. When I return to the US (I'm in Mexico, where I live part of the year, where many of the vegetables are different), I will get some. Thanks. Voted useful.

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 5 years ago from Hudson, FL

      Wow, Robin, I didn't know that! Thank you for stopping by.

    • RobinGrosswirth23 profile image

      Robin Grosswirth 5 years ago from New York

      Great hub-educational. Endive is also great for helping to prevent ovarian cancer too. Thanks.

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 5 years ago from Hudson, FL

      shiningirisheyes: I could be wrong, but I think that people who don't like vegetables just haven't had them prepared in tasty dishes. There are so many varieties and ways to cook them! I'm glad you're a veggie-appreciator! :) Thanks for your comment!

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 5 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Radcliff, I am fortunate for always having been a vegetable lover and these choices are delicious. I am one of the few who eat vegetable because I like them. I must shamefully admit I am not the best at eating foods that are good for me. I guess I am fortunate for having a taste for these healthy selections.

    • Radcliff profile image

      Liz Davis 5 years ago from Hudson, FL

      Gotta keep you on your toes, Bill! If you like curry, both butternut and delicata squash are delicious with a coconut milk curry sauce.

      Thanks, my friend. Happy Friday!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Hey Liz, one question: how is it that you managed to name five veggies that I don't eat? LOL I was all excited about my healthy ways and then you pull the rug out from under me! See what kind of friend you are!

      Good info; I'll look into that winter squash thing. :)