Fall Harvest: 10 Fruits And Vegetables That Boost Immunity
Fall is the season when appetites turn toward comfort food. A lot of the things you’d find on a Thanksgiving table aren’t necessarily good for you—and with winter coming, you need your food to do more than put meat on your bones!
Here at Hawaiian Ola, we believe that the things you eat and drink should provide energy, nourishment, and promote a healthy immune system. That’s why juice from the Noni fruit is the main ingredient in our immunity formula. With fall in full swing and winter on its way, you should choose fruits and vegetables to boost immunity and ward off illness.
One strategy for doing this is to make an effort to eat produce from each color of the rainbow. These ten, listed from red to purple, are some of the best fruits and vegetables out there for enhancing your immune system. They’re in season now, so you should have no trouble finding them!
Red & Orange
Health Benefits: Apples contain soluble fiber, which a University of Illinois study revealed to have immune-strengthening properties. They also benefit the balance of bacteria in the digestive tract. Apple phytonutrients, including polyphenols and flavanoids, can help regulate blood sugar.
How To Eat It: Apples are fantastic because of their versatility. They’re great in sweet as well as savory dishes. Drink apple juice, eat applesauce, or have a whole apple as a snack. If you go apple-picking, you can do all of the above—plus have enough left over to make pies, cakes, and slice up for sandwiches and salads.
Health Benefits: Beets are a great source of manganese, which aids in the production of superoxide dismutase, an antioxidant that supports the immune system by eliminating free radicals. They also contain iron and vitamin C, which are essential for fighting off infections.
How To Eat It: There are few better ways to prepare root vegetables than by roasting. It can be a lengthy process, but you can cut back on the time somewhat by cutting them into wedges, seasoning them with oil, salt, and pepper, enclosing them in a foil packet, and baking them in a 450-degree oven for 30 minutes.
Health Benefits: Alpha carotene and beta carotene, which convert to vitamin A and contribute to immune defense, are both found in pumpkin. Half a cup of pumpkin puree contains three days’ worth of vitamin A, as well as vitamin C, iron, and fiber.
How To Eat It: Pumpkin pie is a classic fall recipe, but it’s also packed with sugar, fat, and calories. You can use pumpkin puree in all kinds of healthy recipes. Stir it into oatmeal with some spices, make a quick bread, or try out this recipe for pumpkin cranberry muffins!
4. Sweet Potatoes
Health Benefits: Sweet potatoes are one of the best sources of beta carotene available. This phytonutrient helps the body absorb iron and raises blood levels of vitamin A, which improves eyesight and may reduce the risk of arthritis.
How To Eat It: You can use a sweet potato any way you’d use a regular potato. Steaming them is one of the best ways to retain their nutrients. To do this, cut the sweet potatoes into 1/2-inch slices and steam the slices seven minutes. Adding spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, or cloves make steamed sweet potatoes into a great side dish.
Yellow & Green
5. Butternut Squash
Health Benefits: Squash is a fantastic source of antioxidants, like beta carotene, which protect from chronic diseases like cancer. It also contains high levels of vitamin C and vitamin A, which bolster the immune system.
How To Eat It: Roasting butternut squash with olive oil and salt makes a delicious and savory side dish. You can take it a step further by pureeing the squash with broth and some roasted ginger and shallots. This fall staple, butternut squash soup, is a filling and comforting way to get your daily dose of immune-boosting butternut squash.
Health Benefits: A single kiwi provides 100% of your daily recommended amount of vitamin C. Kiwis also contain carotenoids, polyphenols, and dietary fiber. All of these have immunity benefits! One study found that consuming kiwi, or another high-vitamin C fruit, provided protection from respiratory issues like asthma and wheezing.
How To Eat It: Kiwis make great snacks, whether they’re fresh or dried. If you want to get a little more creative, you can combine them with a leafy green of your choice to make a healthy smoothie! Blend both ingredients with a banana, some strawberries, or even a few sprigs of mint for a refreshing zing.
Health Benefits: Kale is antioxidant-rich, and is also high in vitamins C, A, and K. It’s also a great source of fiber, but is low in fat and calories. It contains more iron than beef—iron is essential for cell growth, liver function, and hemoglobin production.
How To Eat It: Kale is delicious as a base for salads, either raw or tossed with some parmesan, salt, pepper, and olive oil and baked until crispy. Top it with toasted pecans, chopped apples, roasted butternut squash, and some whole-grain croutons for a super immune-boosting lunch!
Blue & Purple
Health Benefits: Red grapes contain resveratol, a compound that an Oregon University studyfound had immune-boosting properties. Resveratol works with vitamin D to increase expression of the CAMP gene, known to play a role in the functioning of the body’s immune system.
How To Eat It: Grapes are easy to eat by the handful, but if you want to elevate them a bit, they make great salad add-ins. You can also roast them as a dessert topping or pair them with another savory vegetable, like parsnips, as a side for pork medallions.
Health Benefits: To get the full nutritional benefits of turnips, eat the greens as well as the roots. Turnips contain several antioxidants, including hydroxycinnamic acids and iodine. They aid the immune system in preventing disease, eliminate free radicals, and protect against inflammation.
How To Eat It: You can get the benefits of turnips and their greens by sautéing them together with some olive oil and sliced garlic. Or, you can take advantage of the fact that they contain ¼ of the calories of potatoes, and mash them. Add some bacon, parmesan, and chives to make the dish more hearty.
Health Benefits: Pathogens can enter the body more easily when its pH is out of whack. Figs help support proper pH levels, and the fiber they contain helps maintain healthy levels of blood sugar. Figs also contain potassium, manganese, and several antioxidants.
How To Eat It: Figs are delicious fresh or dried, in salads or paired with cheese and crackers. You can brush them with olive oil and broil them to serve alongside a protein, like steak, or with ice cream. If you’re in a rush, grab some fig newtons as a snack! Four figs a day can work wonders for your immune system.