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Vital vegetables to boost your immune system

29th January 2021

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There’s plenty of talk about how to supercharge your immune system during any winter, but - with a global pandemic still running rampant - immunity is a hotter topic than ever. Thankfully, nature provides plenty of helpful immunity-boosting crops and we’ve been cherry-picking the best for your consideration.

Throughout this article, we’ve provided helpful links to scientific studies, NHS information, growing guides and recipes, to help you make informed choices about the food you eat.

Blueberries
Blueberries contain a naturally occurring chemical called anthocyanin. It has antioxidant properties and can provide a boost to your immune system. Anthocyanin is a part of the flavonoid family of chemicals, or pigments, which occur in a number of vegetables and berries. That’s what gives blueberries their distinctive colour. One notable study from 2016 refers in its conclusion to: “The essential role of flavonoids in the function of the respiratory immune system”. As if that wasn’t enough, blueberries are also a good source of vitamin C.


Related: How to grow blueberries

Garlic
Raw garlic is a common remedy for coughs and colds. Some scientific studies have found that taking garlic made common colds less likely, however the overall picture remains inconclusive. For now, garlic remains more of a home remedy than a scientifically proven one, but many people swear by its ability to ward off winter illnesses.

Related: How to grow garlic

Sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds are a good source of vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant. According to the NHS: “Vitamin E helps maintain healthy skin and eyes, and strengthen the body’s natural defence against illness and infection (the immune system)”.

Almonds
Another source of vitamin E, it will only take a handful of almonds to help you top up on magnesium, fibre and vitamins. They can also be used in cooking, or baked into cakes if you have a sweet tooth.

Related: How to grow nuts

Oranges and kiwifruit

Oranges and kiwis are packed full of vitamin C. This is less directly related to your immune system than Vitamin E, but helps to “protect cells and keep them healthy” according to the NHS. It also helps to maintain your skin, bones, cartilage and blood vessels. Vitamin C is often used to fight the symptoms of the common cold, though the science behind this is not entirely conclusive.

The health benefits of fruits, nuts and vegetables go well beyond your immune system too. While we can’t guarantee that any of these foods will stop you from getting ill this winter, they’re all flavoursome options in the kitchen and pack a variety of health benefits.

Words by George Storr

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