15 foods that boost the immune system
Almond trees are commonly seen in Southern Nigeria, it provides a good shade from sunlight as their branches make them take the shape of an umbrella. Locally known as ebelebo or just simply ‘fruit’, the fruits are green in colour but turn yellow, red, or a lighter green when ripe.
Almond nuts are gotten from cracking the almond seeds. The nuts are then processed to get other almond products such as the floor, oil, butter, and milk.
Almond milk is a good alternative to animal milk. It is a good source of plant protein and non-dairy milk for vegetarians.
Almond nuts may be eaten raw or roasted; they are a good source of potassium and low in sodium content. Almond nuts and their products also contain folate, and vitamin E, flavonoids which are antioxidants that boost immunity. Various trace elements such as phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium are important constituents. A serving of 30g can provide up to 14 percent of recommended daily dietary fiber. It has a probiotic effect as it increases the gut bacteria population, thereby protecting it from some infectious intestinal disease. A good source of vitamin E and antioxidant flavonoids.
Artichokes are Green, hard flower-like plants with little spikes. This vegetable has a semblance of a flower that hasn’t bloomed.
Artichoke reduces the release of chemicals that cause inflammation. These spiky plants increase the activity of antioxidants which in turn destroy harmful chemicals produced in the body by fat tissues. This is the mechanism by which it reduces obesity and protects against fatty liver disease. It can be eaten raw, boiled, grilled, or roasted after removing the spiky parts of the leaves.
Most of its health benefits lie within the leaf. It contains vitamin C, floated, magnesium, potassium, flavonoids, and dietary fiber.
Avocado pear or avocados are green fleshy fruit with an outer green or black cover and an innermost part that contains the seed.
The fleshy middle part is a good source of potassium, folate, and antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E. It is also a good source of B vitamins and vitamin K; it contains fat which is an unsaturated healthy type of fat (monounsaturated fatty acids). Avocados are eaten raw, mixed with vegetables, or taken as smoothies, and are rich in fiber and minerals like magnesium.
The oil extract has been used in salad dressings and is a vital part of ketogenic diet recipes. It contains xanthophyll and phenolic compounds that have anti-inflammatory properties and reduces oxidative stress on body cells. Xanthophylls protect cells from damage.
Blueberries are purplish-blue grape-like fruits Blueberries can be eaten raw or in smoothies.
The blueberry extract may be used for juice, jam, muffins, pancakes, or ice cream.
Although it is often referred to as the saddest fruit (because the color blue represents moodiness), it is good for you as it is a nutrient-dense fruit rich in antioxidant vitamin C, fiber, and manganese.
Blueberry consumption increases the growth of good bacteria in the gut that produces a slimy substance (mucin) that protects the lining of your intestine from inflammation.
It also contains important phytochemicals like anthocyanin and flavonoids. Its antioxidant properties make it a good immune booster.
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable which can be eaten alone or with sauces. It can be roasted, cooked, or fried. It is a good source of dietary fiber and increases good beneficial bacteria in the gut that improve gut health. It is rich in vitamin C and vitamin K. It also contains fiber, vitamin A, folates, potassium and selenium. Steaming maintains most of the nutritional value, unlike other cooking methods.
Closely related to onions, garlic has potential health benefits such as immune-boosting. It is similar to onions in color and appearance. Used as a spice in various recipes.
It can be processed into various formulations such as garlic tea, garlic powder, garlic oil, garlic bread, garlic butter, and tablets.
It contains Allicin, a substance that gives its antibiotic and antioxidant properties.
Ginger is a spicy root crop used as a spice and medicine, as it is rich in dietary fiber and phytochemicals. It’s an immune booster due to its antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
Ginger can be processed into ginger ale, tea, oil, and beer. It has been used in cake and cookie recipes.In addition, it may be used to spice up stews, soups, and sauces. It is a source of micronutrients such as calcium, iron, copper, magnesium, and manganese.
A cruciferous vegetable and a good source of many vitamins and minerals. Kale contains antioxidants that can help boost immunity. It is a good source of vitamins A, C, K, and B (thiamine, riboflavin and niacin). It also has some micronutrients- calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, and phosphorus.
Kale contains small quantities of omega-3 fatty acid which helps boost immunity.
Brown on the outside but green and white on the inside with black seeds, Kiwi fruit is a nutrient-dense immune booster. It is rich in vitamin C and E which are antioxidants. Kiwi is also a great source of folate. It is packed with dietary fiber which makes it good for your gut. There are different species of this fruit, one with a hairy brown covering and another with a smooth back. Most people do not eat the hairy outer covering of this fruit but the other type without a hairy covering can be eaten whole as the back has additional benefits of more dietary fiber.
Papaya or pawpaw is a tropical fruit with a green or yellow outer covering, a red/ orange or yellow fleshy part, and numerous innermost small black seeds. It has anti-inflammatory properties as it reduces levels of substances that cause inflammation. Different parts of this plant including the leaves, seed, and fruit are medicinal. The pawpaw fruit is a good source of vitamin C and dietary fiber. It contains papain which improves digestion, reduces swelling, and helps fight infections. It may be eaten partially ripe when it’s crunchy like carrots or fully ripe when it’s softened.
Persimmons are fruits with a wide variety of species. Some resemble tomatoes and others look like cashew fruit. It is rich in vitamin C, E, and A. Micronutrients in it are manganese, potassium and copper. It reduces inflammation. It may be eaten fresh, dried, or baked when it’s ripe. It is eaten whole as the skin is edible.
When we mention pumpkin, the picture that comes to mind for most Nigerians would be the fluted pumpkin which is oval. It’s grown for the leaf and seeds as the fluted pumpkin fruit is inedible. Fluted pumpkins are much more popular in the south than the Northern parts of Nigeria.
Pumpkin on the other hand is grown in Northern Nigeria; it is yellow or orange and round and shaped like a ball. Both the fruit and seeds are edible.
Pumpkin seeds have a semblance with egusi or melon seeds. It can be eaten raw or roasted. Roasted pumpkin seeds had better antioxidant activities than raw pumpkin seeds. It is rich in vitamins A and E.
They are nutrient-packed seeds with high protein and unsaturated fat content. It is rich in essential fatty acids which is the type of fats your body needs but cannot produce by itself. The good part of keto recipes used in smoothies and parfait. Pumpkin seeds are a good source of micronutrients. It contains important minerals such as magnesium, zinc, potassium, manganese, iron, calcium, sodium, and copper. It helps reduce levels of inflammation which is the initial process in many chronic diseases. while providing a healthy dose of the good fats your body needs.
Blue-green algae with great nutritional values. It contains phycocyanin, which is an antioxidant that helps with immune boosting. It is a rich source of vitamin C and E, as well as micronutrients such as calcium, iron, and phosphorus. It is processed into powdered formulations, capsules, or tablet supplements. Spirulina is also a good source of essential fatty acids.
Various species of sweet potato exist, viz: orange colour, white or purple. Sweet potatoes are a good source of dietary fiber and antioxidants. It has vitamins A, C, and B12.
About the author
Grace is an internist currently practising in Nigeria. She has gained experience practising both in the private and public health sectors over the last ten years. She is passionate about giving patients adequate information about their health conditions. She believes that a large part of the management of chronic diseases lies with patients' understanding of their illnesses and the need for lifestyle modifications and medications.