During this time, it is especially important we focus on consuming as many fruits and vegetables as possible to help maintain a healthy diet. Fruits and vegetables along with heart healthy fats are important due to their vitamin content and antioxidant properties. Here are some foods that should be staples on your shopping list that are great sources of Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and Vitamin C.
Red Peppers: These veggies are full of water-soluble Vitamin C which helps maintain healthy immunity by repairing our cells and acting as an antioxidant to fight off certain diseases. Red peppers can be consumed in a variety of different ways. What is great about red peppers is that they can last 1-2 weeks when stored in the refrigerator, unwashed in a plastic bag. You can prepare red peppers in a variety of ways. Slice them up and have them fresh with humus or a yogurt based ranch dip or make a delicious meal like shrimp fajitas. Check out this shrimp fajita recipe, just remember to use red bell peppers.
Kiwi: This is a perfect fruit to add to your grocery list which is also rich in Vitamin C. Vitamin C content is higher when foods are not heated, so adding a fresh kiwi to your breakfast or snack regimen is key. Slice kiwi up and add it to your favorite fruit salad and some yogurt for a delicious parfait. It can also be an ingredient to your everyday smoothie. You can keep it simple and just cut up a kiwi as a snack with a string cheese or a few nuts on the side for some added protein.
Sunflower Seeds: These seeds are packed with fat soluble Vitamin E which acts as an antioxidant to help protect our bodies from harmful free radicals and strengthens our cells against certain diseases. About 1 ounce of sunflower seeds have about 66 % of the Daily Value. Sunflower seeds can be consumed alone as a delicious snack, can be a topping to a salad, or sprinkled over a yogurt. You can also be creative and add sunflower seeds into burger, meatloaf or meatball mixtures. Sunflower seeds are also filled with fiber and heart healthy fats which help vision, cardiovascular health, inflammation, and the central nervous system.
Sweet Potato: This starchy veggie is a great source of Vitamin A which is another a fat soluble vitamin which has many roles including immunity, gene expression, lipid metabolism, vision and reproductive health. In addition to Vitamin A, sweet potatoes are also great sources of fiber and potassium. Sweet potatoes are a versatile vegetables, they can be baked, boiled, broiled, canned or frozen. Check out this amazing sweet potato fries recipe here.
Dark Leafy Greens: spinach, kale and collard greens: These vegetables contain an abundance of Vitamin A along with fiber, potassium, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin C, and iron. They are also low in carbohydrates and calories and are an ideal food to add to a diet focusing on weight management. Unfortunately, dark leafy greens do not have a long shelf life and purchasing produce that lasts in the refrigerator is extra important these days. You can buy spinach and kale frozen, and if buying fresh store in the refrigerated for 3-5 days. These veggies are great sauteed, balanced and even and delicious addition to recipes. Here are some links incorporating dark leafy greens: Sauteed Spinach and Kale Sweet Potato Soup
Take home message: One single food and or vitamin isn’t not the answer to immunity, but consuming a balanced diet with a variety of fruits, veggies and heart healthy fats along with practicing a healthy lifestyle essential for to build a strong immure system.
Here is a sample diet with powerful vitamin rich foods discussed above:
Breakfast: 2 eggs, sautéed spinach and fruit salad with kiwi
Lunch: 4 ounces of lean protein over kale salad with 2 tbsp of sunflower seeds
Snack: 1/2 cut up red pepper and 2 tbsp humus
Dinner: 4 ounces of lean protein, 1 baked sweet potato and sautéed collard greens