4 Surprising Immune-Boosting Foods

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Have you skated through the winter without so much as a cough or sniffle? It could be thanks to these everyday ninja foods that scientists say may kick your immune system up to “hero” status. (Not an exact quote.) Check ‘em out!

Garlic
It looks cool, wards off vampires, and might help you stay well. Is there anything garlic can’t do? (Insert fresh breath joke here.) Garlic is rich in antioxidants, which may destroy free radicals and help fend off the common cold. One study concluded that those who took a garlic supplement each day had fewer colds – and even those who did get colds bounced back faster than placebo takers.

Oats
A hot bowl of oatmeal is a hearty way to start your day on a cold winter morning. It’s also packed with soluble fiber, which one study found “changes the personality of immune cells – they go from being pro-inflammatory, angry cells to anti-inflammatory, healing cells that help us recover faster from infection.” Just add cinnamon and raisins for instant childhood nostalgia!

Mushrooms
Fungus fans are in good hands. Mushrooms boost white blood cell count and performance, enabling them to battle infection, said Douglas Schar, director of the Institute of Herbal Medicine. Always cook them in order to reap the full benefits, says mushroom aficionado and TEDMED talker Paul Stamets.

Orange veggies
Say “yes” to yams, pumpkins, and all their orange-fleshed friends. These guys are loaded with beta carotene, which the body converts to Vitamin A and uses for vision and immune system health. Too much Vitamin A can be toxic – however, the body will only convert as much beta carotene into Vitamin A as is necessary.

Image: garlic braid, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from pesbos photostream.

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