Sure, superfoods like acai and shiitake can support immunity – but what about the everyday food heroes?
For centuries, healers have utilised the medicinal value of special foods. However, modern science is now discovering that many quite ordinary foods are packed with disease-fighting nutrients to support the body’s natural defences. Read on to discover the humble superfoods that are already in your pantry, fridge and fruit bowl.
Carrots A rich source of vitamin A and antioxidant carotenoids, these are a tonic for skin and eye health. They also support immune function, regulate blood sugar levels and help counter chronic viral infections, such as cold sores.
Pumpkin This contains high levels of vitamins A and E and carotenoids, which enhance immune function and boost the body’s ability to resist infection. Pumpkin also has anticancer properties and supports the health of the skin and mucous membranes.
Beetroot This provides folate and a host of valuable minerals, including iron, manganese and potassium. It stimulates the immune system by improving cellular function and tissue oxygenation, which in turn keep the heart, muscles and nerves operating optimally. Beetroot also helps to stabilise the body’s pH (acid:alkaline ratio), which many natural health practitioners believe to be important for correct immune system and liver function.
Spinach Its extremely high folate content makes this a valuable food for women before and during pregnancy. Its high content of vitamins A, C and K strengthens the mucous membranes, which are the first point where viruses and bacteria attempt to enter the body.
Grapes Both fresh and dried grapes (sultanas, currants and raisins) have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and detoxifying properties, which improve the body’s ability to repel viruses and carcinogens. They also act as free radical scavengers.
Lemons Like all citrus, the vitamin C in lemons improves the health of the mucous membranes and boosts the body’s ability to resist infection; vitamin C also enhances iron absorption, which improves energy levels, aids antibody production and protects against allergies.
Raspberries These contain polyphenols which have an anti-inflammatory and anti-infective effect, along with astringent tannins that can help to prevent mouth ulcers, cold sores and gum disease.
Avocado This highly nutritious fruit contains more potassium than a banana, along with anti-inflammatory and antifungal phytochemicals and a range of powerful antioxidants which mop up free radicals. Avocados are unusual among fruits in that they are very high in fat, most of which is the beneficial monounsaturated oleic acid that helps to reduce blood levels of LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol and stabilise blood sugar.
Almonds The humble almond helps maintain healthy blood sugar and blood fat levels, and may play a role in lowering blood pressure, making them particularly helpful for heart health. Their energy is released slowly and steadily, boosting energy, stamina and strength.
Tempeh A rich source of phytoestrogens and saponins, which are active against viruses and are thought to inhibit the spread of malignant tumour cells, this star food is also protective against many hormone-related problems, such as endometriosis and fibroids.