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Superfoods that Fight the Common Cold

 

Hillcrest South dietitian Stephanie Harris, MS, RD/LD, joins us on the blog today, sharing insights on a word we may hear a lot, but not fully understand how it can impact our health - superfoods.

Hippocrates did not underestimate the importance of good nutrition when he said Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. Our bodies are battlegrounds against infection and diseases and often times we forget that good nutrition should be the first medication on the prescription list …and the best part is there are no side effects! A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to help prevent colds and the flu.  Superfoods are nutrient powerhouses packed with large doses of vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants, protein, and Omega-3 fatty acids that play a key role in building a strong body and army of defense. These micronutrients help protect tissues in the body by blocking harmful chemical reactions caused by free radicals. Antioxidants are capable of stabilizing, or deactivating, free radicals before they attack cells making you better able to ward off colds, flu, and other infections.

How to tell which foods are considered Super?

Just about every brightly colored fruit and vegetable fits the category of a superfood, as do nuts, beans, seeds and aromatic and brightly colored herbs and spices. Daily consumption of superfoods is essential to help prevent or reduce inflammation, protect organs from toxins, promote digestive health, and increase the production of white blood cells—which is key to fighting infections. The best defense is a good offense and because your body doesn't produce or store these nutrients, daily intake is essential for continued health.  

There are several nutrients containing antioxidants; Vitamin CVitamin E, and beta carotene are among the most commonly studied dietary antioxidants.  Eating real foods and not relying on dietary supplements will better increase your chance of building a strong immunity not to mention helping you lower cholesterol, reduce your risk of heart disease and cancer.

Where to find these foods?

Simply shopping your supermarket’s produce aisle can be a quick start into incorporating these disease-fighting nutrients! Look for the boldest colors - deep reds, purples, oranges, and green should be eye catching! The trick is to get a variety of the best foods to achieve optimal health benefits. Sonja Stolfa, Registered Dietitian and Director of Food and Nutrition Services at Hillcrest South, suggests to “shop the perimeter of the store and to avoid the inner aisles where most of the highly processed foods are stored” to help guide consumers to replace low-nutrient dense foods with Superfoods in their cart. 

Here are examples of Superfoods to help ward off the cold or flu bug.

Multitasking Superfoods

Broccoli
Blueberries
Cabbage
Kale
Green Tea
Tomatoes
Garlic
Oats
Mushrooms
Red Bell Peppers
Salmon
Spinach
Almonds
Sweet Potatoes
Soy Beans