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How Do I Choose the Best Foods for the Immune System?

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  • Written By: B. Miller
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 09 November 2016
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There are many different foods for the immune system that, when eaten as part of a healthy diet, help to strengthen the immune system and may help prevent illnesses. These tend to be the foods that are rich in antioxidants; these include the vitamins C and E, as well as beta-carotene, which falls under the larger category of carotenoids. Other nutrients include zinc and selenium, which can also help to boost the immune system. The best sources of these vitamins and minerals typically include fruits and vegetables, as well as certain protein sources such as tuna fish or different varieties of nuts.

It is best not to wait until you get sick to begin eating foods for the immune system. Instead, try to eat a healthy diet as much as possible every day, that is rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and protein. This will help to strengthen the immune system and make it less likely that you will get sick in the first place. If you do get sick, continuing to eat this healthy diet may help to shorten the duration and lessen the severity of the illness. Eating foods rich in antioxidants isn't just good for the immune system, but it may even help to prevent heart disease and cancer; it is also great for the skin and overall well-being.

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Certain foods for the immune system that are rich in antioxidants are often dubbed the "superfoods." These include fruits such as blueberries and oranges, nuts such as walnuts, and leafy greens or vegetables such as spinach and broccoli. Complete lists can be found by searching online, but these are all excellent foods for the immune system. In general, however, any fruits or vegetables you eat are beneficial for the immune system. A good rule of thumb is to choose the most colorful fruits and vegetables for the most nutritional benefits.

Of course, fruits and vegetables are not the only foods for the immune system. Zinc, which is a great immune-booster, is found in many different sources of protein including meat, fish, beans, and nuts. Selenium is often found in these sources as well, and certain grain products are fortified with selenium as well. Your best bet is generally to eat a well-rounded diet as much as possible, and seek out whole foods for the best sources of antioxidants as well as other vitamins and minerals.

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