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Foods That Strengthen the Immune System

author image Amie Valpone
Amie Valpone, HHC, AADP is the Editor-in-Chief of; she is a Manhattan based Personal Chef, Culinary Nutritionist, Professional Recipe Developer, Food Photographer and Writer specializing in simple gluten-free and dairy-free ‘Clean’ recipes for the home cook. Amie recently healed herself from a decade of chronic pain including Lyme Disease and Heavy Metals exhausting every doctor in the country and Mayo Clinic; she shares her story of how Clean Eating saved her life and inspires you to Clean up your food, too. Amie lives in Manhattan, NYC where she cooks for a variety of clients including celebrities and people with busy lifestyles who enjoy healthy, fresh food. Amie's work appears on Martha Stewart, Fox News Health, WebMD, The Huffington Post, The Food Network, Glamour Magazine, Clean Eating Magazine, SHAPE Magazine, Prevention Magazine, PBS and many others. Visit Amie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google Plus and Pinterest @TheHealthyApple.
Foods That Strengthen the Immune System
A sliced avocado. Photo Credit: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

There are many foods that can help strengthen your immune system and you can easily find them right in your neighborhood food store. Your immune system provides many defenses to defend against unwanted infections and diseases. Adding foods high in antioxidants, such as vitamin E, vitamin C and beta-carotene, will help keep your immune system strong and able to fight off infections, bacteria and viruses. Eating the right foods will help maintain and possibly boost your immune system.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is found in nuts, asparagus, avocado, eggs, milk, leafy green vegetables, vegetable oils, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, spinach, broccoli, carrots, red peppers and pumpkin. These nuts, seeds and vegetables taste delicious when roasted in the oven and help prevent cell damage from free radicals, allow your cells to efficiently communicate and protect against disease.

Vitamin C

Oranges growing on a tree.
Oranges growing on a tree. Photo Credit: dina2001/iStock/Getty Images

Vitamin C is found in green, yellow and red peppers, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, kale, mangoes, melons, oranges, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, berries and Brussels sprouts. These foods can be incorporated into an immune-juice fresh fruit and vegetable juice for a healthy and naturally sweet taste. These vitamin C rich foods can be steamed or eaten raw in a crudités to ensure that you reap the nutritional benefits and antioxidant properties. Vitamin C is a well-known common cold fighter and may also protect against other viruses, as well.


Fresh broccoli in a bowl.
Fresh broccoli in a bowl. Photo Credit: George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Caroteinoids, which contain beta-carotene, are found in sweet potatoes, watermelon, corn, turnips, collards, squash, broccoli, apricots, beets, peaches, corn and asparagus. These fruits and vegetables are soaring with antioxidants, which help repair cells from free radicals. Furthermore, beta-carotene rich foods provide a source of vitamin A and enhances the functioning of the immune system.

Zinc and Selenium

A close-up of brazil nuts.
A close-up of brazil nuts. Photo Credit: Vladimir Mucibabic/iStock/Getty Images

Zinc is found in dairy products, nuts, seafood, red meats, oysters, beans and whole grains. Selenium is found in tuna, beef, grains, Brazil nuts and poultry. These protein-rich foods are the building blocks to many cells in your body through their amino acids. Furthermore, the fiber found in grains helps rid toxins from your body through your liver, which in turn may strengthen your immune system. Zinc enhances the function of T cells, which are vital in identifying antigens and notifying other immune cells to invaders.

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