Looking for some fruits that boost immunity against COVID infection?
The outbreak of the COVID pandemic has made us sit up and become more mindful of our lifestyle and health practices.
While everyone is grappling with the havoc caused by this virus, practicing social distancing, sanitizing and wearing a mask, and maintaining a healthy immune system is of paramount importance.
People with compromised immunity and several co-morbidities are the prime targets of the virus.
Our immune system is our first and most essential defense system comprising several soldier cells like white blood cells, macrophages and antibodies, which help our body fight off infections.
However, when the immune system’s response is impaired, it’s an open invitation to viruses like the coronavirus. Hence, a strong immune system is more important today than ever before.
Today I thought I would quickly discuss 5 fruits that will boost immunity against COVID infection. I have already discussed immunity boosting foods elsewhere on this blog.
How Do I Boost My Immune System?
The immune system is a very complex system that defends the body against attacks by micro-organisms.
There are good bacteria present in the gut, which build 85% of our immune system and defend the human body from various diseases.
A healthy and nutritious diet helps maintain the number of the beneficial gut microbes and strengthen our immune response.
Although there are several supplements available in the market, the Institute for Functional Medicines suggests that brightly coloured fruits and vegetables strengthen the immunity better than most marketed supplements.
The list below includes a variety of nutritious and power-packed fruits that are accessible, economical and can be stored for a longer duration.
5 Fruits That Boost Immunity
Here are some of my favourite fruits that are great at powering up your immune system.
Kiwi, also known as Chinese gooseberry, is a tropical superfood known for its nutrient value and shaggy looks.
The sweet and tangy taste of this vibrant green fruit is what makes it so popular. Kiwis are loaded with vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that prevents inflammation by fighting free radicals.
The nutritional breakdown of kiwi has 93-161 mg vitamin C per 100 gm, which is higher than oranges and lemons.
It also aids in the body’s immune system’s defense against flu and pneumonia, even in high-risk populations of elderly and children.
Eating kiwi can reduce upper respiratory infection severity and risk of pneumonia in COVID patients.
Along with vitamin C, Kiwi is rich in dietary fibre, folate, carotenoids, potassium and polyphenols, which work in synergy to boost immunity.
Kiwis are rich in zinc, which helps enhance response to interferons and inhibits an RNA polymerase enzyme, thus inhibiting replication capacity of SARS-CoV and minimizing lung infection.
Use it as a salad topping or add slices to drinking water. You can also use fresh or frozen kiwis in a smoothie or in a yoghurt bowl .
This rich red fruit has been regarded as a healing fruit since biblical times.
Pomegranate juice is a rich source of glucose, amino acids and vitamin C.
It has an abundance of phenols and anthocyanin compounds that scavenge free radicles and has antioxidant activity. Their antioxidant potential is thrice as compared to green tea and red wine.
The primary flavonoids, quercetin and rutin, possess cardioprotective and antiviral properties too.
The tannins, punicalagin and punicalin present in pomegranate juice and peel have antiviral properties capable of modulating influenza and respiratory infections.
Ellagic acid present in pomegranate interacts with viral proteins involved in Sars-CoV-2 and minimizes the risk of infection. Studies have shown that pomegranate peel extract may exhibit the same effects.
Additionally, pomegranate juice is also beneficial for controlling blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer.
So, next time pour yourself a glass full of pomegranate juice instead of green tea or red wine.
Oranges are tangy citrus fruits packed with vitamin C, folate and several other bioactive components which strengthen the immune response.
A single orange meets 116% of the daily requirement for vitamin C.
This powerful antioxidant prevents the generation of free radicles and tissue damage, facilitating optimal functioning of the immune system.
Citrus fruits like oranges contain abundant polyphenolic flavonoid components like hesperidin, naringin and narirutin, which boost the immune system and have anti-inflammatory properties.
Naringin present in oranges maintains blood glucose levels and reduces the risk of diabetes.
Hesperidin found in oranges can inhibit the entry of SARS-Cov-2 virus into the host cell and hinder its replication. Similarly, naringin may potentially prevent cytokine storms in COVID patients.
Thus, a glass of fresh orange juice will bolster your immune system against all kinds of infections.
Centre for Disease Control and Prevention recommends having fresh fruits over packaged juices, as fresh fruits have higher fibre content than processed juice.
Banana is the most cultivated and most affordable tropical fruit.
This simple fruit, available in almost every household, is loaded with dietary fiber, carbohydrates, bioactive phytochemicals and several vitamins and minerals. In addition, several polyphenolic compounds present in bananas have potent antioxidant properties.
Our immune system comprises special cells like cytokines and antibodies that facilitate immune response are made up of protein, and vitamin B-6 is essential for their production.
Bananas provide 25% of recommended daily required vitamin B-6. Bananas also contain folate and copper, which play an essential role in immune response.
Additionally, the phenolic constituents in bananas also exhibit anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antiallergenic and vasodilatory benefits. Being prebiotic, bananas restore regular bowel activity and aid digestion.
You can easily include bananas in your diet in the form of fresh or frozen fruit.
Bananas are the baker’s favourite ingredient to bake banana bread or banoffee pie; you can also have them in your desserts, shakes or smoothies. Jut watch your sugar intake though!
Pineapple, a vibrant tropical fruit, has exceptional health benefits. It is one of the most popular fruits that boost immunity.
An active constituent of pineapple, the enzyme bromelain, has several health-supportive properties. Bromelain aids digestion and has significant anti-inflammatory and anti-thrombotic (keeps the blood thin) properties.
Pineapple is a rich source of vitamins C and B-6, and trace minerals like manganese, copper, folate, potassium, etc. High vitamin C makes it a potent fruit to boost the body’s immune response.
The presence of manganese and thiamine improves the energy production and antibody defences.
A study has shown a significantly low risk of bacterial and viral infections in children who included pineapple in their diet.
Furthermore, children who consumed the most pineapple had nearly four times the number of disease-fighting white blood cells (granulocytes) as compared to others.
This delicious yellow fruit can also be enjoyed in a variety of ways. You can use frozen pineapple chunks to make a refreshing drink or a smoothie or grill the fresh slices to serve as a delightful side dish.
Of course, bite-sized chunks can be eaten as well.
A Refreshing Immunity Booster Smoothie Recipe
This smoothie is great alternative for breakfast packed with goodness of vitamin C rich fruits, punch of powerful antioxidants, fibre and refreshing taste.
All you need:
- Kale or spinach leaves (because you should ‘eat your greens’)
- Frozen fruits – Banana, pineapple, kiwi, mango, etc.
- Milk (you can use normal skimmed milk or almond/soy milk)
- Honey (optional)
- Inch of ginger
- Dash of lemon juice
- Pomegranate seeds
- Chia seeds
Toss the spinach/kale leaves with milk into the blender and blend it well. Add chopped frozen fruits, ginger, honey, squeeze half a lemon and blend till smooth.
Serve your refreshing green smoothie topped with a generous amount of pomegranate seeds and chia seeds.
You can also use fresh fruits instead of frozen ones, just reduce the amount of milk and add some ice to maintain the creamy texture of the smoothie.
Kale and spinach are rich in fibre, several essential minerals and vitamin C. Ginger and lemon are anti-inflammatory, aids digestion, boosts immunity and adds the freshness to the smoothie.
So sip your way to good health!