The Best Foods for Battling Flu Season

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The Best Foods for Battling Flu Season

Pump up your defense against winter’s nasty bugs.

By Shannon Brates and Sandy Braz / Photography by Paul Buceta

It’s that time of year when you hit up your doc for the flu shot and carry extra hand sanitizer everywhere. But what about taking a trip to the grocery store to enhance your health this season? Yep, the produce aisle is a fully stocked arsenal of extra protection against the common cold and flu. When it comes to foods for boosting immunity and curbing fatigue, registered dietitian Shoshana Pritzker says these vitamin-packed, produce-aisle staples may be coming to your health’s defense.

PBU_9796e-cropped2SWEET POTATO
Sweet potatoes break down slowly in the digestive system, which means they won’t cause your body’s insulin levels to spike, helping to stabilize energy and keep you from feeling fatigued. What’s more, sweet potatoes help raise the blood’s vitamin A and C levels—an important benefit to consider, since these are two vitamins that support immune function. They’re inexpensive and extremely versatile, so you can load up on sweet spuds without breaking the bank.
Try: Cut a sweet potato into wedges and toss lightly in olive oil and herbs. Bake in the oven at 425 F for 25-30 minutes, flipping wedges halfway through. Serve as a satisfying side dish or healthy snack.
Plus: Want a healthy and decadent dessert? Get our staff-approved recipe for Sweet Potato Brownies in the next issue of STRONG Fitness Magazine, on stands December 30.

 

PBU_9716eGRAPEFRUIT
Containing energy-producing and muscle-repairing B-vitamins, this citrus powerhouse doesn’t get enough cred when it comes to post-workout recovery, says Pritzker. Grapefruit aids in muscle repair, while facilitating weight loss and curbing insulin levels—two concerns during colder temperatures when cravings for comfort food are amped up. Grapefruits are in peak season during the winter months, meaning they’re at maximum nutrient density right now. Pritzker adds that grapefruit contains 80 percent of that immune-boosting vitamin C.
Try: For a flu-fighting lunch idea, mix slices of fresh grapefruit with chopped kale and shredded roasted turkey breast, topped with sliced cucumber and thinly sliced red onion. Toss lightly with olive oil and fresh lemon juice and let stand in the fridge for one hour. Serve topped with diced avocado and a sprinkle of unsalted sunflower seeds.

 

 

PBU_9650e-cropped1KALE
Recent research suggests kale could be the solution to two of winters major woes: fatigue and depression. Numerous studies have shown these dark leafy greens fight free radicals, thanks to their sky-high antioxidant content. Kale has also been shown to reduce levels of LDL cholesterol, fight inflammation, and considerably reduce toxin levels in the body.
Try: Some people have trouble digesting kale raw, so try massaging leaves in a bit of olive oil and let sit in the fridge for a few hours, or sautéing torn leaves in coconut oil with garlic.

 

 

 

PBU_9878e1KIWI
Getting enough sleep is important all year long, but studies show that sleep disturbances are more common in the winter months, when light and warmth are in short supply. This deficiency can leave you vulnerable to getting sick. A recent study conducted at the School of Nutrition and Health Sciences at Taipei Medical University showed that consuming kiwi a couple of hours before bed aided in sleep quality. Twenty-four subjects (including 22 females) were given kiwi fruit before bedtime for four weeks. On average, the subjects reported sleeping longer and getting better quality shut-eye versus consuming no kiwi before bed. Readily available from November to May, kiwis are also palm-sized immune boosters packing a punch in the vitamin C department.
Try: Layer slices of kiwi and strawberry with Greek yogurt and slivered almonds for an on-the-go breakfast that will beat those winter blues.

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