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Brain-Healthy Foods That Help Strengthen Your Immune System

Try these delicious foods that nourish body and mind

   

Your immune system stands guard against an army of germs that make you sick; fending off these attack-ready viruses and bacteria is its primary job. Exercise; sufficient sleep; minimal stress; a healthy weight; low alcohol intake; and plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats make up a package that helps strengthen your immune system and provide it with the means to keep you healthy. Here are foods that do just that, along with keeping your brain healthy. We’ve included delicious recipes for each to get you started.

1. Berries

Brightly colored blueberries and raspberries contain plant-based nutrients that can reduce damage to cells and help the immune system do its job of quelling invading viruses. What’s more, these gems may play a role in boosting memory.

No fresh berries in the market? Buy frozen instead to have them ready at the first sign of a sniffle. Try this recipe for Banana Berry Smoothie.

2. Broccoli

This bright-green powerhouse of a vegetable is rich in vitamin A (beta carotene) and vitamin C that may help strengthen your immune system. It also contains a naturally occurring chemical that may help restore the body’s immunity, which tends to decline as we age. Another major plus: Nutrients in broccoli may help keep memory sharp. Try Broccoli and Kale with Garlic Butter.

3. Garlic

This pungent bulb (also called the stinking rose) contains sulfur compounds that research has shown to have a powerful antiviral effect. Researchers have linked eating garlic with keeping blood vessels elastic and protecting against stroke. Crush or chop the garlic about 10 minutes before you use it to make the most of these healthful properties, a report in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry recommends. Try the crowd-pleasing Garlic-Rosemary Smashed Potatoes.

4. Salmon

This lovely rosy fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that help fight inflammation, a condition that weakens the immune system and leaves you more susceptible to infections like the flu. And, it turns out, these omega-3s may also help improve memory. What’s more, some research has found that salmon, due to its omega-3 content, both reduces surges of stress hormones and may protect against depression. Research from Carnegie Mellon University has found that psychological stress may reduce the body’s ability to fight inflammation. Dish up Salmon with Roasted Vegetables and Quinoa for a healthy dinner.

5. Turmeric

In laboratory studies using infected cells from both humans and animals, curcumin (a compound in the bright-orange spice turmeric) has been found to stop several kinds of viruses from multiplying. It’s too early to tell if it will have that effect on COVID-19, but whether you’re facing this or any other virus, a strong immune system is one of your best defenses. Try this Curried Onion Dip with fresh veggies as a tasty snack.

6. Sweet Potatoes

Loaded with vitamin A, sweet potatoes help fight viruses as well as protect your nose, throat and lungs from infection. They’re also rich in antioxidant compounds that may help reverse daily wear and tear on the body. In addition, they have abundant amounts of beta-carotene, vitamin C and magnesium to help reduce inflammation. Rich in B vitamins that keep blood sugar levels steady, these sweet tubers may prevent mood swings and sugar cravings. Try this comforting and delicious Moroccan Chicken and Sweet Potato Soup.

7. Mushrooms

These odd-looking fungi may fight inflammation by neutralizing substances that damage the immune system while boosting production of compounds that protect it. Mushrooms also boast considerable amounts of the mineral selenium, low levels of which may increase your risk of developing the flu. Plus, research suggests that eating ’shrooms could potentially prevent memory and language problems in older adults. Crispy Portobello With Caramelized Onions are bound to brighten up a meal. 

8. Tea

Choose your favorite – white, green or black. Research suggests that all three contain naturally occurring compounds that may protect cells by sharpening the body’s defenses against viruses. Also, a study published in the journal Aging concluded those who drank tea four times a week over 25 years had better thinking skills than non-tea drinkers. Some research has even found that gargling with tea may help protect against the flu. So brew some Strawberry Iced Tea for a relaxing treat. —Nissa Simon

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Membership Expires: Renew

Brain-Healthy Foods That Help Strengthen Your Immune System

Try these delicious foods that nourish body and mind

   

Your immune system stands guard against an army of germs that make you sick; fending off these attack-ready viruses and bacteria is its primary job. Exercise; sufficient sleep; minimal stress; a healthy weight; low alcohol intake; and plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats make up a package that helps strengthen your immune system and provide it with the means to keep you healthy. Here are foods that do just that, along with keeping your brain healthy. We’ve included delicious recipes for each to get you started.

1. Berries

Brightly colored blueberries and raspberries contain plant-based nutrients that can reduce damage to cells and help the immune system do its job of quelling invading viruses. What’s more, these gems may play a role in boosting memory.

No fresh berries in the market? Buy frozen instead to have them ready at the first sign of a sniffle. Try this recipe for Banana Berry Smoothie.

2. Broccoli

This bright-green powerhouse of a vegetable is rich in vitamin A (beta carotene) and vitamin C that may help strengthen your immune system. It also contains a naturally occurring chemical that may help restore the body’s immunity, which tends to decline as we age. Another major plus: Nutrients in broccoli may help keep memory sharp. Try Broccoli and Kale with Garlic Butter.

3. Garlic

This pungent bulb (also called the stinking rose) contains sulfur compounds that research has shown to have a powerful antiviral effect. Researchers have linked eating garlic with keeping blood vessels elastic and protecting against stroke. Crush or chop the garlic about 10 minutes before you use it to make the most of these healthful properties, a report in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry recommends. Try the crowd-pleasing Garlic-Rosemary Smashed Potatoes.

4. Salmon

This lovely rosy fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that help fight inflammation, a condition that weakens the immune system and leaves you more susceptible to infections like the flu. And, it turns out, these omega-3s may also help improve memory. What’s more, some research has found that salmon, due to its omega-3 content, both reduces surges of stress hormones and may protect against depression. Research from Carnegie Mellon University has found that psychological stress may reduce the body’s ability to fight inflammation. Dish up Salmon with Roasted Vegetables and Quinoa for a healthy dinner.

5. Turmeric

In laboratory studies using infected cells from both humans and animals, curcumin (a compound in the bright-orange spice turmeric) has been found to stop several kinds of viruses from multiplying. It’s too early to tell if it will have that effect on COVID-19, but whether you’re facing this or any other virus, a strong immune system is one of your best defenses. Try this Curried Onion Dip with fresh veggies as a tasty snack.

6. Sweet Potatoes

Loaded with vitamin A, sweet potatoes help fight viruses as well as protect your nose, throat and lungs from infection. They’re also rich in antioxidant compounds that may help reverse daily wear and tear on the body. In addition, they have abundant amounts of beta-carotene, vitamin C and magnesium to help reduce inflammation. Rich in B vitamins that keep blood sugar levels steady, these sweet tubers may prevent mood swings and sugar cravings. Try this comforting and delicious Moroccan Chicken and Sweet Potato Soup.

7. Mushrooms

These odd-looking fungi may fight inflammation by neutralizing substances that damage the immune system while boosting production of compounds that protect it. Mushrooms also boast considerable amounts of the mineral selenium, low levels of which may increase your risk of developing the flu. Plus, research suggests that eating ’shrooms could potentially prevent memory and language problems in older adults. Crispy Portobello With Caramelized Onions are bound to brighten up a meal. 

8. Tea

Choose your favorite – white, green or black. Research suggests that all three contain naturally occurring compounds that may protect cells by sharpening the body’s defenses against viruses. Also, a study published in the journal Aging concluded those who drank tea four times a week over 25 years had better thinking skills than non-tea drinkers. Some research has even found that gargling with tea may help protect against the flu. So brew some Strawberry Iced Tea for a relaxing treat. —Nissa Simon