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As fall unfolds and the days grow darker and colder, we’re faced with the possibility of getting the flu and COVID-19. Regardless of how we personally feel about vaccination, we can boost our immunity by eating nutritious foods.

Packed with vitamins and minerals, certain foods will help keep us strong and healthy, or at least help us get better faster if we do get sick. Eating healthy foods won’t eliminate the need for other preventative practices, but it can certainly help. Here are some immune-boosting foods to consider eating this fall.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin isn’t just a yummy flavoring. It’s also great for the immune system. This orange vegetable is bursting with vitamin C (which protects against illness) and A (which enhances immune function). Scooping out and cooking a pumpkin takes a lot of work and often is watery and bland. Therefore, canned is the best way to add pumpkin to foods. Buy 100% pumpkin puree, not canned pumpkin pie filling, which contains sugar and spices.

Honey

There’s a reason honey is soothing when you’re sick. Research has shown that it has a variety of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants as well as flavonoids and phenolic acids to help protect against illness and disease. Honey is also a natural cough soother and energy booster.

Cauliflower

Using cauliflower in unique ways has become a trend because it has a mild flavor, is low in carbohydrates and very versatile. It is a great source of vitamin C (which boosts the immune system) and antioxidants (which may combat inflammation and protect against illness and disease). Roast it up with other fall vegetables like sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts for a flavorful side dish.

Brussels Sprouts

Another cruciferous vegetable that is great at boosting your immune system is Brussels sprouts because they are rich in antioxidants. Additionally, they are high in vitamins C, B6, and K, fiber, potassium and contain compounds that may lower inflammation.

Acorn and Butternut Squash

Not only delicious, these squashes are also packed with calcium, potassium, beta carotene and vitamin A. Consider chopping, roasting and seasoning acorn or butternut squash this fall.

Apples

Apples are great for your immune system. They are high in fiber, vitamin C, potassium, vitamin K, manganese and a variety of B vitamins. Consider using cooked and pureed apples this fall for a sweetener in your favorite dessert.

Cranberries

The phytochemicals in cranberries have shown to have major antioxidant and antimicrobial effects. In fact, an increasing amount of research has shown that the cranberry phytochemicals may promote healthy aging. Plus, eating cranberries can increase immunity in the body and fight against infection and bacteria.

Pears

Besides being a good source of vitamin C, pears contain pectin, a fiber that nourishes healthy gut bacteria. Research has shown that pectin has been linked to regulating the immune system, showing promise in helping to fight off colds, flus and infections.

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