As the weather turns cooler, just about everyone worries about catching their first cold of the season. A cold might not be life-threatening, but it can still make for a miserable week or two. Many of us already face a lot of everyday stress–a cold is certainly something you want to avoid.
Fruit is an overlooked but powerful tool to boost your immune system and keep it strong all year long. So instead of stressing about the prospect of getting sick, add these five fruits to your regular lineup. You can rest a little bit easier knowing that you’re giving your body the tools it needs to stay healthy. Here are five fruits that will help boost your immune system:
Oranges are exceptionally good for you at any time of the year. They’re well known for being packed full of immune system-boosting vitamin C—every variety of orange contains more than 100% of your recommended daily amount. But that’s not all: According to WebMD, vitamin C can also prevent cell damage, encourage the production of collagen, and even lower your levels of the stress hormone cortisol, as well as your blood pressure. When it comes to fruits helping prevent or reduce the likelihood of a cold, frequency is key. Make oranges a regular part of your diet this time of year.
Just like oranges, grapefruits are a great source of vitamin C. They’ve also got a significant amount of fiber and vitamin A, which supports your immune system as well as your eyesight. Grapefruits are low in calories (half a grapefruit has just 52 calories on average), and they’re 88 percent water, which helps keep you hydrated and feeling full. Plus, you don’t want to wear yourself out on oranges—mix up your citrus! However, be aware that grapefruit contains a compound that can interfere with the absorption of some medications, especially statin-based medications. Check with your doctor or pharmacist if you are on any medication.
Low in calories and delicious to eat by the handful—blueberries have natural antihistamines, which can help reduce inflammation and minimize symptoms, including the runny or stuffy nose that can plague you during the cold season. They’re loaded with antioxidants that keep you healthy—including flavonoids—that boost your general health and can keep you feeling spry during these chilly winter months.
Apples are great sources of fiber and natural sugars—but you knew that already. What you might not know is that apple skins contain quercetin, a type of plant pigment flavonoid that helps boost your immune system and reduce inflammation. An apple a day really can keep the doctor away! Make sure to keep eat it with the peel and all its phytonutrients.
Did you know that pears contain vitamin C? Besides plenty of fiber and potassium, they also contain anti-inflammatory flavonoids in their peels—so make sure you eat the skin for the super nutrient boost.
In addition to these fruits, there are a number of other (non-fruit) foods that are recommended to help keep colds at bay, including broccoli and dark leafy greens, garlic, turmeric, ginger, bell peppers, and even dark chocolate. Always be sure to get plenty of sleep, drink lots of water, and wash your hands regularly. You can’t prevent every instance of cold or flu, but you can absolutely boost your odds of staying healthy with a consistently healthy diet full of fruit. So take a proactive approach this season and add these immune-system-boosting treats to your daily routine.
Jack Owens is a Boston-based creator with a love of good coffee, good food, and good writing. By night, he’s a writer, editor, and reader—by day, he’s a labor advocate and organizer for Graduate Employees at UMass Boston.