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Well-Balanced Diet Important For Your Immune System
It's no secret that when you eat better, you feel better, but you may not realize why. According to Ronda Elsenbrook, a registered dietitian at Kelsey-Seybold Clinic, it's because fruits and vegetables strengthen your immune system.
"A minimum of six servings of fruits and vegetables daily is recommended to get adequate vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants - all things we need for a healthy immune system," she explains. "Adding more fruit and vegetables of any kind to your diet can help improve your general health."
Some foods are higher in antioxidants than others. The three major antioxidant vitamins are beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E.
"You'll find them in colorful fruits and vegetables - especially those with purple, blue, red, orange, and yellow hues," notes Ronda. "To get the biggest benefits of antioxidants, consider eating these foods raw or lightly steamed."
The following are some foods that can help you maintain a well-balanced diet:
- Beta-carotenes and other carotenoids such as apricots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, green peppers, kale, mangoes, turnip and collard greens, nectarines, peaches, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, squash, spinach, sweet potato, tangerines, tomatoes, and watermelon
- Foods rich in vitamin C such as berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, honeydew, kale, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, orange, papaya, snow peas, sweet potato, strawberries, tomatoes, and red, green, or yellow peppers.
- Vitamin E foods like fortified cereals, nuts and oils, peanut butter, turnip greens, tomato sauce and paste, wheat germ, avocado, spinach, dandelion greens, sardines, and broccoli
- Other super foods heavy in antioxidants including prunes, apples, raisins, all berries, plums, red grapes, alfalfa sprouts, onions, eggplant, and beans
"By getting the adequate nutrients to your immune system, you improve your body's ability to fight illness," Ronda says. "Therefore, one of the defenses against viral infections is to eat the recommended six to eight fruits and vegetables to help support a healthy immune system."