10 antioxidant-rich foods to support your immune system

Did you know you that we can use our diets to help us stay healthy? While healthy eating may not prevent us from contracting germs, choosing nutritious food may reduce the likelihood and severity of colds. Focusing on whole foods, especially those that are rich in antioxidants, zinc and protein, can support immunity!

Generally, antioxidants are found in plant based foods. The three most common are known as the “ACE” vitamins – beta-carotene (which is the plant form of vitamin A), vitamin C and vitamin E. Antioxidants are molecules which help protect healthy cells in our body from damage caused by nasty free radicals – a result of normal body functions, as well as things like smog, cigarette smoke and the sun’s radiation.

It is always best to incorporate natural, whole foods into your diet for optimum nutrition rather than taking a supplement, which may seem like an easy solution to boosting your antioxidant intake.

Not sure what to add to your diet? Here are 10 antioxidant-rich foods to help support your immune system…

  1. Wholegrain cereals
    Alongside the host of nutritional benefits of wholegrains – including the fact they are low GI, high in fibre, and rich in vitamins, minerals, trace elements, protein and carbohydrates – wholegrain cereals and oats, such as Carman’s Crunchy Clusters and Gourmet Porridge Sachets, contain a range of antioxidants including phytochemicals, phytates and coumarins along with zinc, an essential mineral that supports optimum immune function.
  2. Citrus fruits
    Including oranges, grapefruits and tangerines as part of a healthy diet increases your vitamin C intake. With some of the highest antioxidant levels of all fruits, citrus fruits are bursting with juiciness and flavour and can help to support your immune system.
  3. Yoghurt
    An excellent source of probiotics, which are the healthy bacteria that keeps your gut and intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs. Keeping your gut healthy is essential to staying well, as the digestive system plays an important role in your immune system. Look for an unsweetened yoghurt containing high amounts of live cultures (we love thick and creamy Greek yoghurt!) and add this to your Carman’s muesli.
  4. Broccoli
    High in dietary fibre, carotenoids and vitamin C, broccoli contains a long list of nutrients linked to reducing cancer risk. On top of that, it is low in kilojoules, is a source of vitamin K, folate and potassium and adds vibrant colour to any meal.
  5. Berries
    Fibre-rich, nutrient-dense and full of antioxidants, berries are sweet, delicious and filled with health benefits. Berries contain antioxidants including vitamin C, flavonoids and anthocyanins that counteract, reduce, and repair damage to cells. For an extra berry burst, why not try topping your Super Berry muesli or Super Berry & Coconut porridge with fresh juicy berries?
  6. Tea
    With protective agents in tea known as catechins and flavonoids, this little cup of joy has a large effect on the human body. Tea is filled with antioxidants, and there is growing evidence to show that tea has benefits on the immune system, the gut function and can aid in chronic diseases, with a positive association between tea and heart health seen.
  7. Turmeric
    Originating from the root of the plant curcuma longa, turmeric is known for its bright yellow colour and is used to add flavour to curries, mustard, pickles, relish, chutneys and rice dishes. Turmeric contains a polyphenol compound, curcumin, which is gaining a lot of attention regarding its anti-inflammatory properties and potential to reduce cancer and Alzheimer’s disease risk. There is growing evidence around the health benefits associated with curcumin, however more research is needed to make any definitive claims.
  8. Nuts
    Like other plant foods, nuts provide a wide range of nutrients, including a high level of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and protein. Nuts are also a good source of dietary fibre and provide a wide range of essential nutrients, including B group vitamins, vitamin E, calcium, iron, zinc, potassium and magnesium, antioxidant minerals including selenium, manganese and copper, plus phytochemicals such as antioxidant compounds (flavonoids and resveratrol) and plant sterols. Next time you’re looking for an on-the-go snack, grab a small tub of mixed nuts or one of Carman’s Roasted Nut Bars.
  9. Cinnamon
    With one of the highest levels of antioxidants, cinnamon is a great addition to porridge and is included in a large range of Carman’s products (our current flavour-ite is Honey, Vanilla & Cinnamon Gourmet Porridge!). Cinnamon adds a wonderful flavour to sweeten foods without having to add sugar and there are studies indicating an association between cinnamon consumption and blood sugar level control.
  10. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    Extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality oil out there! The natural extraction process of extra virgin olive oil retains all of the antioxidants, phytosterols and vitamins found in olives, as it is the natural juice squeezed from olives. Research has shown that these substances provide health benefits for cardiovascular health, weight control and reducing inflammation. It also contains polyphenols, tocopherols (vitamin E) and other antioxidants for anti-ageing.

So there you have it…10 antioxidant-rich foods to support your immune system! What other whole foods do you like eating? We’d love to hear more – simply touch base on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, or email us at hello@carmanskitchen.com.au.

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