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    Ask the Chef: Superfood Immunity Boosters

    By Julie Morris, Superfood Chef | February 23, 2015

    Q: What are some good foods to have on hand to boost the immune system?

    When it comes to warding off illness, little compares to the power of superfoods! As the most potent foods on the planet in the realm of micronutrients, consuming superfoods is a terrific way to stockpile health benefits like antioxidants and anti-inflammation, while supporting the body as a whole and keeping wellness at its peak. Additionally, because all these superfoods are real foods (and not manufactured supplements), the micronutrients available are the most easily digestible, and therefore the most effective. So go on, make your immunity plan a delicious one!

    Dragonfruit helps to strengthen the immune system through its collection of B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, as well as its array of antioxidants, including lycopene. This special fruit is a particularly good prevention food. Keep a bag of dried dragonfruit slices stashed in your desk or purse for a midday boost, or use them to punch up recipes, such as in a Dragonfruit Smoothie.

    Goji berries
    Throughout China, goji berries have a history of enhancing immunity and longevity. Credit the high levels of vitamin A and C, along with more than 20 trace minerals found in goji berries for its superfood status. You can use these sweet dried fruits just like you would raisins, or enjoy them sprinkled in salads, blended into soups, or steeped like a tea.

    Camu's biggest claim to fame is its extraordinary vitamin C content: one teaspoon of camu berry powder contains the equivalent of 7-8 oranges' worth of vitamin C! Vitamin C is one of those powerhouse nutrients that's an incredible multi-tasker when it comes to benefits (joint health, beauty booster, cardiovascular protection, to name a few). But perhaps its vitamin C's role in offering immune support that is its biggest claim to fame. An anti-inflammatory vitamin with antioxidant properties, vitamin C helps to fight viruses and soothe inflamed tissue. Getting vitamin C from food is drastically more absorbable than from an isolated supplement, so bring on the camu. Camu powder is very potent (and quite bitter on its own), so use a ¼- ½ teaspoon at a time. Also, you don't want to cook with camu, else you'll destroy the vitamin C, which is sensitive to heat. I recommend stirring in a pinch of camu powder into juices, salad dressings, smoothies, and popsicles.

    Hemp Seeds
    Hemp seeds are a good source of vitamin E - a vitamin with antioxidant properties that actually helps the body fight off infection. Additionally, hemp is also an exceptional source of iron, which helps the body transport oxygen keeping cellular function at its prime. Hemp seeds are delicious sprinkled on top of both savory and sweet foods, and can be used as a topping for oatmeal, salads, potatoes, or pasta.

    Wheatgrass has long been revered as a healing superfood: with over 70 vitamins and minerals, it's hard to argue that it is powerful! Yet micronutrients aside, much of wheatgrass' immunity benefits stem from its concentration of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll, the green pigment found in plants, helps to build the blood and ensures oxygen and nutrients are transported efficiently throughout the body. While wheatgrass juice has a strong flavor, wheatgrass powder is very mild, and can often snuck into all kinds of unheated recipes. Try making a quick batch of these Green Energy Bars for a grab-and-go immune boost, a great snack recipe that also includes hemp seeds!

    Other helpful foods include hot peppers (great for circulation!), fermented foods like sauerkraut or keifer, citrus fruits, and low-sugar fresh berries like blueberries and strawberries!