Brrrr it’s feeling wintry at the moment isn’t it? I have had to dig all of the winter hats and gloves out of the cupboard, and I might have sneakily had the heating on during the day a couple of times too (don’t tell my husband 😉 )
This morning I have been tackling the weekly food shop (hell on earth at this time of year), and I tried to make it a healthy one after reading about all the foods you should be piling into your trolley this time of year to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients your immune system needs to function at its best.
- Orange juice. This one is always a winner in our house, everyone loves the stuff. Vitamin C contributes to the healthy function of the immune system, and a daily 150ml glass of orange juice counts as one of your five-a- day and contains the vitamin C you need daily. Conveniently, pure orange juice is also a source of the B-vitamin folate, needed for white blood cells
(that protect the body against infectious disease) to rapidly reproduce. This makes orange juice a great choice this time of year as both vitamin C and folate contribute to the healthy function of the immune system.
- Spinach. We all know that leafy green vegetables are a healthy option to add to our evening meals. Winter greens such as spinach are rich in essential nutrients including iron, making it perfect eating for cough and cold season.
- Almonds. There is no shortage of nuts and seeds at this time of year, and they are a great alternative to snacking on comfort foods like biscuits and chocolate. If you choose a handful (about 28g) of nuts like almonds, they provide a really high level of zinc, which contributes to the healthy function of the immune system.
- Mushrooms. I absolutely love them, but no one else in the family does, so I often have to resort to hiding them in bolognese and chilli. Mushrooms are a handy winter standby to give meals taste and texture, but they’re also a source of selenium. Like vitamin C, selenium is an important antioxidant that has a role in normal immune function.
- Carrots. I buy carrots every single week, without fail. They get added to roast dinners and quick mid-week meals and grated into salads and wraps. As well as the part of our immune system known as ‘innate immunity’, the body also has processes in place called ‘adaptive immunity’ which is when the body recognises a virus it has encountered before and initiates a response. Vitamin A (the body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A) is needed for the development of cells which carry out this response. Adding veg rich in beta-carotene like carrots and red peppers to your diet will brighten up your winter dishes and boost your beta-carotene.
- Rainbow fruits. The kids all love fruit, and I try to buy a variety each week, including so called ‘super foods; such as blueberries, kiwi and mango. They also love some strawberries and grapes to add to their school lunchboxes.
- Milk and cheese. Every week I buy milk and cheese. Calcium is important for healthy teeth and bones, and so we always have a ready supply of milk to drink and add to cereals, and cheese snacks for a quick boost mid afternoon.