The winter cold and flu season has moved right in on the heels of the holidays. It’s no wonder with all those gatherings full of family and friends and all the delicious holiday treats in every corner of the house begging to be snacked on that your immune system might be feeling in need of a little bit of help. It is so important this time of year to fight back against colds and flu on several levels the easiest of all is making healthy food choices.
In general people eat more in the winter, which ultimately leads to unwanted weight gain and a lowering of the healthy phytonutrients needed to boost their immune systems. Pass up those chips, cakes and cookies, which seem so comforting during the long winter days and snack on fruits and vegetables loaded with vitamins, fiber and antioxidants. In addition to eating healthy foods be sure to get an adequate amount of liquids to prevent dehydration. If you find yourself with dry nasal passages, cracked lips and an overall feeling of tiredness you may be dehydrated. In the summer it’s easy to hydrate when a tall, cool drink tastes refreshing but don’t overlook the importance of drinking liquids when it’s cold outside.Berry juices mixed with mineral water and a bit of ice are sure to be a hit with all your family this winter.
Berries are the perfect food to both keep your immune system in tip-top shape and help keep you well hydrated, not to mention help you keep off those unwanted winter pounds.
Your mother may have told you to drink your orange juice, but it’s blackberries that may best beat bugs.
Just consider — blackberries contain polyphenols that are associated with fighting colds and flu, including Vitamin E. Per serving, blackberries contain more antioxidants, which studies suggest may boost the immune system, than any other food. Blackberries are also high in magnesium and vitamin C. Too little vitamin C weakens the immune system, creating feelings of stress and fatigue. Blackberries are high in folate and low in calories. One cup of blackberries contains 75 calories, less than one gram of fat and 7.6 grams of fiber.
Try eating blackberries every day to give your immune system a boost. There’s no nutritional difference between fresh and frozen blackberries, so feel free to use either in recipes. Not sure how to work blackberries into your regular diet? The Oregon Raspberry & Blackberry Commission offers these suggestions:
- Try blackberries on your morning cereal. Use our quick defrost microwave method to make frozen berries the perfect addition to a morning meal.
- Start your day with a healthy blackberry smoothie. Blend blackberries with yogurt and honey to get fruit and protein into your morning meal.Try blackberries in whole grain pancakes, waffles and muffins.
- Sprinkle blackberries on salads.
- Combine blackberries with a small bit of sugar, and bake them in puff pastry or phyllo dough for an easy, elegant dessert.
- Put blackberries over ice cream or pudding.
- Use blackberries to make your own jam, then use it instead of grape jelly when you make your next peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
- Put blackberries in sparking mineral water or sangria.