15 Super Foods that Boost your Immunity

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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The best foods for improving your immune system include garlic, oranges, yogurt, chicken soup, kiwi, shellfish, salmon, spinach, and many more!

The immune system is one of the most important parts of human health, mainly because it is responsible for keeping the rest of our body healthy! Although we don’t like to think about it this way, our bodies are constantly under attack from environmental, biological, psychosocial, physical, bacterial, fungal, and viral agents that are trying to make us anything but healthy. We are unaware of all the work our body does to maintain our health, but it is vital that we keep our immune system functioning at a high, efficient level so we can live healthily!

Foods that Boost your Immunity

The most important aspects of immune health, outside of lifestyle choices, are the foods we put into our body. A balanced diet including certain key minerals, vitamins, and organic compounds can make a huge difference between constantly feeling under the weather and protecting your vital systems every hour of every day. Antioxidants are a key part of the immune system battle, but there are plenty of other factors as well, which we will explain in greater detail below. Now, check out some of the best foods to give your immune system that healthy boost you need!


This very popular superfood is known to contain anthocyanins, tannins, resveratrol, phytonutrients, as well as potassium, fiber, vitamin C, and manganese. All of these components make blueberries one of your best defensive fruits to improve the strength of your immune system against a wide variety of illnesses, infections, and chronic diseases.


People often turn to orange juice when they’re feeling sick, and with good reason. The high content of vitamin C gives a boost to the immune system by stimulating the activity of white blood cells, and vitamin C act as an antioxidant to combat the effects of free radicals in the body. Vitamin C also is a vital component in collagen, which keeps your tissues and cell membranes healthy, protecting against attack from infections and viruses.

Chicken Soup

Although this is a classic cold remedy, chicken soup really does have immune system-boosting properties. A specific amino acid, cysteine, is released when chicken is cooked, and it has a healing effect on the respiratory system and fights the accumulation of mucus, which can often carry more bacteria and pathogens into the body.

Oats and Barley

Oats are beneficial for a wide variety of health issues, but in particular, the beta-glucans that are found in oatmeal and other types of barley are great for improving immunity. Immune system cells have receptors that beta-glucans attach to, which increases the functionality and impact of white blood cells that defend the body against pathogens and other foreign agents.


These delicious and versatile vegetables give your body a huge boost of beta-carotene, which stimulates T-cells and other types of antibodies in the immune system to protect against infection and various diseases, while also boosting skin health, thereby preventing the entry of dangerous substances through the skin.


Although it might make your breath smell, garlic is a great way to boost your immune system. Along with the mineral content that is always beneficial for the body, garlic also contains an organic compound called allicin, which specifically defends against bacteria and can eliminate certain infections. It also contains thiosulfinates, sulfur-containing compounds that ward off certain diseases. Garlic has been used for centuries in cultures around the world as a natural immune system booster.


Cocoa Powder

Cocoa powder is made up of nearly 10% antioxidants, predominantly flavonols, and is one of the most highly concentrated food sources for antioxidant potential. Unsweetened, natural cocoa powder has been linked to cancer prevention, antioxidant activity throughout the body, increased nitric oxide levels, lowered lipid levels, and decreased hypertension (David L. Katz et al., 2011). In short, cocoa powder is a superfood for the immune system.

Oysters (Shellfish)

Oysters, as well as various other types of shellfish, are filled with unique minerals, including selenium and zinc, which is directly connected with boosting white blood cell activity and activating cytokines, a protective element in the immune system that can protect you from chronic illnesses.

Red Meat

Although some health experts say to avoid red meat, depending on other health issues, it is important for maintaining your immune system. Red meat, particularly beef, has high levels of zinc, which is an integral component in white blood cell production, which is the body’s first line of defense against certain illnesses and pathogens.


In terms of keeping your body safe from any bacteria or illness that may be contracted in the food you eat, yogurt is ideal. Yogurt is a rich source of probiotics, like lactobacillus and bifidobacterium, which actually protect your system against damaging bacteria that might cause illness from the food you consume.


Although this is only a spice, these dried buds of Myrtaceae family trees are packed with tannins, flavonoids, various analgesic compounds, and other impressive antioxidants that give your immune system a serious boost if you add this popular spice to your foods.

Butternut Squash

This gourd variety has a wealth of vitamin A, which is an essential vitamin to keep your skin, eyes, and immune system healthy. Furthermore, vitamin A in butternut squash can impact the efficiency of your digestive system, thereby keeping nutrients flowing properly to keep your body functioning right.


Different varieties of mushrooms are suggested for improving your health in various ways, but shiitake mushrooms are specifically noted for their ability to stimulate the immune system. Furthermore, the various antioxidant compounds in shiitake mushrooms fight off free radicals, which are linked to chronic diseases like heart conditions, cancer, and gastrointestinal issues.

Green Tea

This antioxidant-rich beverage has been praised for centuries all over the world due to its immune-strengthening potential. L-theanine is a particularly powerful amino acid found in large quantities in green tea and is connected to a stronger, more responsive immune system.


Spinach and other cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, kale, and Swiss chard, are all packed with unique antioxidants (such as glucosinolates) and are rich in minerals, including zinc, copper, and iron, all of which play important roles in the development of white and red blood cells, increasing circulation, and reducing oxidative stress in the body.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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