Three Immune Boosting Foods
With immunity at the forefront of many conversations, include these four foods in your diet to help the immune function, boost antioxidant levels, and improve your overall health.
Check out these three foods to include in your diet this week, (and they're in season too!)
- Unlike any other fruit, strawberry seeds are on the outside (rather than the inside) of the fruit, technically making the strawberry not a berry at all.
- According to the USDA, strawberries are the third most valuable (non-citrus) fruit crop grown in the US, behind grapes and apples.
- Strawberries rank the highest, number 1 (out of 53 ) on the Environmental Working Group’s Shoppers’ Guide to Pesticides in Produce. Because one-third of all conventional strawberry samples contained 10 or more pesticides, the EWG recommends buying organic.
- Unfortunately, the pesticides used in conventional strawberry production are some of the very worst — including methyl bromide, which sterilizes the soil and acts as an insecticide (and is also used as a fumigant for many foods and spices, and as a weed killer).
- Strawberries are high in Vitamin C, fiber and manganese. The berries are also a fairly good source of folate and potassium, and are low in calories.
2. Alfalfa Sprouts
- The book Food Plants of the Worldnotes that the earliest evidence of the plant being used for fodder was in 1300 BCE in Turkey. “The Oxford Companion to Food” says that the Persian Emperor Darius introduced alfalfa to Europe in 491 BCE, but that it was used for human consumption only in times of food shortages.
- Alfalfa is called “lucerne” in most of Europe.
- Alfalfa sprouts: the classic “sprouts” that became popular in the 70s with the influx of California cuisine and macrobiotic cooking. Alfalfa sprouts are tender and grassy-chlorophil tasting, great for topping sandwiches and avocado toast.
- These sprouts are rich in Vitamins C and K, a good source of folate and a decent source of important minerals, like manganese, phosphorous and iron. Generally, sprouts are high in Vitamin C, although cooking reduces Vitamin C (and it’s recommended, for food safety, that you cook your sprouts).
- Nettles are as old — if not older — as the Bible, where the plant is referenced at least four times. Some historians point to ancient Egypt as its historical birthplace, yet others are drawn to Bronze Age Austria, where nettle fabric was used in burial shrouds.
- It’s widely agreed among historians that Native Americans used nettles for medicine and food, but also for textiles; the fiber, which is stronger than cotton and closely related to woven flax, was used to make twine, fishing nets and rope.
- If ever there was a poster child for Food as Medicine, the stinging nettle is it. Certainly, it’s plenty nutritious: one cup of blanched nettles contains six grams of fiber and more than two grams of protein, for just 37 calories. It’s a good source of vitamins A and K, calcium, iron, potassium and magnesium. It is also rich in chlorophyll, a known antioxidant and blood builder.
- But the nettle goes way beyond the nutritional call of duty. The stinging nettle has for millennia been revered as a botanical healer and used to treat numerous physical ailments that continue to intrigue medical researchers today. Naturally detoxifying and anti-inflammatory, nettles have been a traditional remedy for sundry conditions, gout, anemia and joint pain among them. It has long been a part of the Native American medicine chest, not only as a general tonic but to help during childbirth and reduce fevers.
- In recent years, it has been studied for its potential in treating diabetes, seasonal allergies and pain associated with arthritis, as well as urinary problems resulting from an enlarged prostate. It’s even being studied for its potential to treat livestock diseases.