The surprising foods that will help boost your immune system

Handwashing and avoiding sick people are the best ways to stay healthy. Eating healthy to avoid nutritional deficiencies is another immune-boosting weapon. Nutritionist Angela Dowden recommends these foods to stay healthy year-round.

Bolster your defenses

One carrot provides enough beta carotene to produce 1480mg of vitamin A, more than the daily recommendation of 800mg. Vitamin A keeps mucous passages healthy, which prevents viruses and bacteria from entering. Heat softens carrot cell walls, allowing more beta carotene absorption.


Peppers have twice as much vitamin C as oranges. Vitamin C helps maintain a healthy immune system, especially after intense exercise (marathon runners take note). Red peppers contain vitamin A.


Kale has more vitamin C than citrus fruit, plus beta carotene and vitamin E. Stir-fry garlic for flavour and health.

Kale munch

Garlic may ward off vampires and the common cold. Three months of garlic tablets or placebos were given to 146 participants. The garlic group had 24 colds compared to 65 in the placebo group. Fresh garlic is a good source of allicin and delicious, so enjoy it if you like it.


The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says our immune system needs protein for healing and recovery. It recommends eating seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soya products like tofu, nuts, and seeds daily (some at each meal).

Protein matters

Mushrooms are a good source of selenium and B vitamins. Vitamin D-enriched mushrooms contain 2.5mg per 100g (3.5oz).

Allow mushrooms

Cashews, brazils, and peanuts are rich in zinc, selenium, iron, and vitamin B6. They all boost your immune system.

Cashews, brazil nuts, peanuts

Considering its sweetness, honey may help a cough. Honey relieved coughing in children better than diphenhydramine, no treatment, and placebo. Adults who cough at night should try a honey-sweetened whisky-all-in (hot toddy).


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