Fend off pesky winter colds by stocking your fridge with these 10 immune boosting foods and mixing them into your favorite Asian recipes.
According to an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study, a tomato-rich diet can protect infection-fighting white blood cells from being damaged by free radicals, as the lycopene in the fruit acts as an antioxidant. Get your fill of tomatoes in Nam Phrik Num (Chili and Tomato Dip), a Thai salsa that’s delicious on top of meats or fish.
2. Red Bell Pepper
We tend to think of oranges as being the biggest sources of vitamin C, but on a per gram basis, red bell peppers have twice the C of citrus fruits. Enjoy them in Domi Jjim (Steamed Red Snapper), a beautiful dish that’s packed with other immunity-boosting ingredients like fish, garlic, and carrots.
3. Sweet Potatoes
Orange veggies, like sweet potatoes, carrots, and squash, are rich in beta-carotene , which the body converts to vitamin A and uses to keep your skin—your body’s first line of defense against viruses and bacteria—healthy and strong. Try sweet potatoes in Banh Tom (Shrimp Fritters with Sweet Potato).
4. Olive, Sesame, or Nut Oil
According to research from Iowa State University, the body requires some dietary fat to help absorb the immunity-boosting antioxidants found in vegetables. For a healthy mix of olive and sesame oils, drizzle Korean Salad Dressing over any type of greens.
Shellfish, like oysters, lobster, crab, and clams, contains selenium, which helps white blood cells make virus-fighting proteins called cytokines. And oysters come with a bonus: They are also rich in the mineral zinc, which has antiviral properties. Enjoy oysters in Moo Gul Bap (Radish Oyster Rice), a warming Korean dish that’s perfect for fall and winter months.
Garlic contains a compound called allicin, which has been shown to fight infections and bacteria. Toss garlic into Kung Krathiam Phrik Thai (Garlic Pepper Shrimp), a quick and easy Thai dish that requires only a handful of ingredients.
The “live and active cultures" (also known as probiotics) that are found in yogurt can help keep disease-causing germs out of the intestinal tract. Enjoy yogurt in a sweet and refreshing Matcha Smoothie.
Found in the red pulpy flesh near the cabbage rind, glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that is known to help strengthen the immune system. Try red cabbage in Asian Slaw with Sriracha, a spicy, tangy side dish.
A hot cup of tea isn’t just comforting when you’re not feeling your best. Black and green teas contain an amino acid called l-theanine as well as other plant antioxidants that have been shown to boost immunity. Try this very simple cold-brewed Iced Green Tea recipe and don’t be shy about drinking several cups per day.
Used in traditional Chinese medicine, turmeric contains a compound called curcumin, which has powerful cold and flu fighting properties. You’ll find turmeric in many curry recipes, including Simple Chicken Curry.