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Boost immunity with winter produce

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Boost immunity with winter produce

Eating a variety of winter produce can help the immune system ward off seasonal colds and flu, says 5+ A Day.

Antioxidant-rich winter delights like kiwifruit, broccoli and carrots provide healthy doses of nutrients to boost the immune system in the fight against sniffles and sneezes.

5+ A Day nutritionist Bronwen Anderson says that it is easy to achieve by choosing fruit and vegetables that are in season.

"Eating more fruit and vegetables is an easy dietary upgrade to make," she says. "Fresh produce provides a rich source of vitamins, minerals, fibre and water. It maintains a strong immune system and gives us the right mix of nutrients, in the right amounts."

Each variety and colour has its own unique nutritional profile, which is why it's best to choose not only a variety of fruit and vegetables but a range of colours as well. Picking seasonal produce is good for the budget and a great start to a healthy winter," she says.

Here are some quick tips on how to make the most of winter’s immune-boosting produce.

Kiwifruit

Kiwifruit contains twice the recommended daily intake of vitamin C which is important for immune health. A US study found kiwifruit to be the most nutrient dense of 27 of the most popular fruit. Make a quick fruit salad by combining sliced green and gold kiwifruit and mandarin segments for an immunity-boosting treat. To help tenderise meat, peel and puree a kiwifruit and mix into marinade. Or for a fast, healthy breakfast, peel and chop kiwifruit, bananas and apple, sprinkle with orange zest and add a dollop of Greek yoghurt.

Tamarillo

Tamarillos are a source of vitamin A and an excellent source of vitamin C. Both of these vitamins play an important role in bone growth, immune function and eye sight. Combine a couple of peeled tamarillos to stewed apples - the perfect breakfast fruit or quick dessert when served with custard. For a flavour infusion, add whole peeled tamarillos to a casserole, in the same way you would tomatoes. Or try wedges of red and golden tamarillo with a cheese-board.

Broccoli

One cup of broccoli bolsters the immune system with a large dose of vitamin C. One cup also provides B group vitamins and trace minerals that help strengthen immune defences and maintain a healthy nervous system. Broccoli is also a source of fibre, which aids digestion. For a quick broccoli pesto puree cooled, steamed broccoli with garlic, toasted pine nuts, a little grated Parmesan cheese and olive oil. Toss with pasta, spoon over chicken or use as a dip or a spread. For a delicious side, toss steamed broccoli with fresh lemon juice and sprinkle with toasted sliced almonds. And for a hearty breakfast sauté chopped garlic and steamed broccoli in olive oil in an ovenproof skillet. Add beaten eggs to cover, sprinkle with grated Gruyère and bake until puffed and set.

Persimmons

Like tamarillos, persimmons are high in vitamin C and are a source of vitamin A, providing immunity-boosting benefits. Persimmons are also a source of fibre. For a scrummy dessert, hollow out a persimmon, chop up flesh and mix with brown sugar, chopped walnuts and cinnamon. Place mixture back into the fruit and bake for 35 minutes. Serve with yoghurt on the side. Or for a boost of colour, add thin slices of persimmon to a salad.

Carrots

The powerful antioxidants found in carrots may help protect from heart disease, cancer and maintain eye health due to the high levels of beta-carotene (which is converted to vitamin A within the body). Baby carrots make a quick and healthy mid-afternoon snack, or you can top off your lunchtime salad with shaved carrots. Cooked carrots, sauteed with a touch of olive oil, dried herbs and cracked pepper, make a perfect side to grilled meat.

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