Research shows that adequate intake of vitamin C can build a healthy immune system and defend your body against disease. It probably wont stop you from catching a cold but you’ll be more likely to recover from it quicker and experience milder symptoms.
It wont make much difference if you try to eat more vitamin C once you’re already sick but if you are eating plenty of this vitamin everyday you can expect to fight off your infection faster.
Vitamin C helps fight infection by:
- stimulating our immune system to produce interferon (a natural anti-viral),
- activating our white blood cells, and
- by helping in the production of antibodies.
Vitamin C is one of the most bountiful vitamins found in fruit and vegetables an it’s really easy to meet your body’s requirements. Vitamin C is best eaten through whole foods and the fresher the food is the higher the vitamin C content. The longer the fruit and vegetables are in storage or at room temperature the less vitamin C they contain. The RDI (recommended dietary intake) for adults is 45mg of vitamin C per day. 1 medium size orange has approximately 69mg of vitamin C so 1 orange a day will definitely help keep the doctor away!
Other meal and snack ideas to ensure sufficient vitamin C intake are:
- Bruschetta – chop up 2-3 fresh tomatoes, 1/2 spanish onion and a handful of fresh basil leaves. Combine with a dash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and serve on top of toasted turkish bread or sourdough. Serves 2. Contains 50mg vitamin C per serve.
- Fruit salad – chop up 1 banana, 1 apple, 1 cup strawberries. Add 1 cup grapes and 1 cup blueberries. Toss in 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice. Serves 2. Contains 75mg vitamin C per serve
- Steamed vegetables – 1 cup broccoli florets, 4 Brussels sprouts, 1 cup peas. Serves 2. Contains 90mg vitamin C per serve
Other sources of vitamin C to eat regularly:
Oranges, mandarins, lemons, limes, rock-melon, honeydew melon, cherries, kiwi fruit, mangoes, papaya, strawberries, tangelo, tomatoes, water melon, cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, bean sprouts, cauliflower, kale, mustard greens, red and green capsicums, peas and potatoes.
Beta carotene is known as pro-vitamin A. This means that when you eat beta carotene it gets converted into vitamin A by your liver.
Research shows that adequate intake of vitamin A can actually help prevent colds and flus from even taking hold. This is because vitamin A protects our mucous membranes.
Sound a bit technical? Mucous membranes line our mouth, nose, throat and breathing passages and thus strong mucous membrane are more resistant to virus and bacteria that can cause infection there. It is also involved in the production of tears, saliva and sweat which also contain antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Beta carotene is generally found in yellow or orange vegetables. It’s so abundant in these vegetables that you’ll have no problems in meeting your body’s vitamin A requirements. The RDI for adults is 900ug of vitamin A per day for men and 700ug of vitmain A per day for women. 1 large carrot has approximately 1200ug so 1 carrot a day will also help keep the doctor away!
Other meal and snack ideas to ensure sufficient vitamin A are:
- Pumpkin soup – saute 1 chopped onion and 1 crush garlic clove in a little dash of olive oil. Add approximately 600g chopped, skinned pumpkin and cover with 2 cups of water and 2 cups of salt-reduced chicken stock. Simmer until pumpkin is soft. Blend until smooth. Serves 2. Contains 1300ug of vitamin A per serve. Also try my Hearty Pumpkin Soup.
- Snack platter – serve chopped carrots, celery, capsicum, zucchini and broccoli florets on a platter with hummus, natural yoghurt and other low fat dips. Serves 4. Contains 400ug vitamin A per serve.
- Sweet potato chips – cut up 1 large sweet potato into chunky chip sized batons. Steam or microwave them until just soft. Spray them with olive oil and toss in sea salt and spanish paprika. Cook on a BBQ or char grill until crispy and serve with a fresh garden salad and BBQ’d meat. Serves 4. Contains 600ug vitamin A per serve.
Other sources of Beta-carotene to regularly eat:
Carrots, sweet potato, spinach, grapefruit, brussels sprouts and broccoli.
A final defender against colds and flus is lycopene. This a phytochemical found fruits and vegetables with a number of health benefits including the building of a healthy immune system.
- Try some fresh grape or cherry tomatoes in my Lemon Tomato & Basil Pasta
- Add shredded kale to my Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry
Other sources of lycopene to regularly eat:
Tomatoes, cherries, red capsicums, watermelon, kale and strawberries.