It’s always a good time to support your immune system, but it’s especially true now. Even if you have been fortunate enough to escape illness this season, there is surely a co-worker, friend, or family member in near proximity who is averaging a tissue box a day. To lower your risks of succumbing to seasonal flu, incorporate these vegan-friendly foods into your daily diet, all of which are associated with potential immune system benefits.

Jump to the foods

Can plant-based foods support your immune system?

Eating a well-balanced, plant-forward diet that is rich in whole foods may help to support the function of the immune system. However, it is important to note that there is no magic shield for the cold and other viruses that are more prevalent in the winter months. The risk of catching a cold is influenced by a number of factors, not all of which we can control. This includes exposure to viruses, personal hygiene, stress levels, sleep quality, and overall health.

However, maintaining a healthy diet is an important action that we can take to help reduce the risk of nasty viruses taking hold in our bodies. This is because fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes provide essential nutrients—like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber—that are important for immune function.

Foods that may help fight the cold and flu

To find out more about which plant-based foods are particularly good for immune health, check out our list below. We’ve also included fun recipe inspiration for each!

VegNews.NoodleSaladBailey Ruskus

1 Oranges

Is it a happy coincidence or nature’s design that this cold-fighting fruit peaks during the winter months? Oranges, including tangerines, clementines, and mandarins, are packed with vitamin C—and while some evidence contests the positive association between high vitamin C intake and reduced illness, a daily boost of vitamin C certainly won’t hurt. Oranges are also rich in fiber, potassium, folate, vitamin A, and more essential nutrients.
Check out this recipe: Vegan Rainbow Mandarin Warm Noodle Salad

VegNews.Kernel-to-CobCornChowderAshley McLaughlin

2 Chilies

If you already have a cold, one way to help get the mucus moving is with a bit of spice. This food can make your eyes water and your mouth salivate which helps to break up congestion and relieve sinuses. Foods like wasabi can have a similar effect. In lieu of eating a whole pepper, we suggest getting liberal with the hot sauce and dipping vegan sushi in a soy sauce-and-wasabi mixture. But chili peppers—including jalapeños, poblanos, and cayenne—are also a source of nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin A, and fiber.
Check out this recipe: Creamy Vegan Corn Chowder With Jalapeños

VegNews.GreenSmoothieLettuce Grow

3 Smoothies

Sip down a vitamin-C and antioxidant-rich smoothie to cast away colds. Antioxidants help fight free radicals in the body that damage cells and potentially weaken your immune system. Make your favorite blend or try a store-bought version such as Bolthouse Farms C-Boost. Mixed with antioxidant-packed cherries and tons of vitamin C from sweet mangoes, this blend is made to ward off the winter cough.
Check out this recipe: Green and Fruity Vegan Farmers’ Market Smoothie

tapenade-crostini-8214Jackie Sobon

4 Garlic

Blend raw garlic into a salad dressing or sprinkle crushed garlic on pizza for the potential good of your immune system. When consumed raw, garlic releases a compound called allicin. Research suggests that this compound may help to fight infections and support healthy white blood cells. So the next time your breath smells like garlic, be proud.
Check out this recipe: Vegan Cauliflower-Cashew Crostini With TapenadeVegNews.VeganEggSalad

5 Turmeric and black pepper

This one-two-punch of spices may deliver anti-inflammatory benefits, which could help to reduce the risk of sickness. While turmeric technically does all the work, the active ingredient—curcumin—is not readily absorbed by the body unless it is combined with black pepper. Thankfully, it only takes a pinch to experience the effects. Flavor your tofu scrambles and stir-fries with this spice combination to help potentially build a tasty defense against the flu.
Check out this recipe: Easy Vegan Tofu Egg Salad

For more on healthy foods, read:
Share this

The Great Big VegNews Birthday Celebration is HERE! Get a FREE Vegan Jamaican Summer Recipe Book.