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We all know a healthy and balanced diet is essential for a healthy body and a super healthy immune system.  To make sure you stay healthy through the cold-weather seasons, check out which immune-boosting superfoods you should stock your pantry with. Find all the healthy products we recommend in this article at iHerb, where you can find an amazing selection of healthy foods and supplements at awesome prices.

Here are some of our favorite immune-boosting foods we’re stocking in our pantry:

 

1. Warm Spices

Warm spices like turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon are added to not only flavor dishes but to get some health benefits too! With anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties these spices can help ward off infection while their antioxidants have anti-inflammatory effects that can help protect cells from damage. These spices also have prebiotic properties and may improve gut health which is where your good bacteria and mainline of immune defense resides. [1]

And they’re so delicious and versatile! Turmeric and ginger are great for marinades, dry rubs for meats, stews, soups and curries, while cinnamon is the perfect spice for adding fall flavor into your apple and pumpkin baked goods. 

For USDA organic spices at a great price, try the exclusive line of spices from California Gold Nutrition available exclusively at iHerb. Super fresh, they’re also non-GMO, non-Irradiated, Non-ETO (not sterilized with ethylene oxide, a gas that kills fungus and bacteria), and gluten-free.

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2. Coconut Oil

If you’re looking for a cooking oil with immune boosting benefits, coconut oil is a potent immune booster and natural antibiotic. And its antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal effects are due to its rich concentration of two fatty acids:  lauric acid and caprylic acid. [7]

A great substitute for butter and vegetable oils, coconut oil with a smoke point of 350 degrees is the perfect to use for medium-heat cooking and baking recipes. Coconut oil is also naturally gluten-free, vegan, keto and paleo friendly.

For a healthy and high quality organic coconut oil try California Gold Nutrition Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil. Made by cold pressing the liquid from coconut meat and then separating the oil without the use of chemicals, it’s a smooth, unrefined virgin oil that’s GMO, hexane, pesticide free and packaged in plastic that is BPA and phthalate free.

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3. Soups, Stocks, and Bone Broth

Fall is soup season. And not only are soups an easy and healthy way to get dinner on the table, but they can also help you get more healthy veggies, legumes and important nutrients in your diet. Plus, you don’t need a ton of ingredients to make a great soup. Sipping broths can also be a healthy midday snack or warm alternative to coffee or tea.

For a nutritious soup base, bone broth is a  healthy option made with simmered bones, herbs and veggies. The main benefit of bone broth is that it’s rich in collagen, a type of protein found throughout your body, that helps strengthen and provide support for your bones, joints, skin, hair and nails. Collagen is rich in glutamine, the most abundant amino acid in the body that is incredibly important for healthy metabolism and immune function in every one of our cells. Glutamine also helps to strengthen the lining of our guts which can prevent pathogens from passing through. [2]

For a fast, fulfilling, and delicious natural chicken or beef bone broth that’s infused with collagen and ready to go try Lonolife Keto Broth.  Super convenient and perfect for on the go, it comes in individual stick packs, has 10 g protein, 3 grams of fiber per serving and is friendly for Paleo and Keto diets.

Another healthy alternative to bone broth is miso soup. Made with a fermented soybean paste with a satisfying umami flavor, miso soup is rich in nutrients like manganese, vitamin K, copper and zinc. Studies have shown that eating a diet rich in fermented foods like miso can support immune function and help fight infections. [3] The probiotics in miso can also help improve gut health which is directly linked with a healthy immunity. For an instant miso soup option try Edward & Sons Instant Miso-Cup. They also have delicious vegan-friendly bouillon cubes that are great for anytime you want to throw a pot on or give flavor to sauces.

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4. Sea Vegetables

The food we should all be eating more of to boost our health and immune system is sea vegetables, a.k.a, edible seaweed. Nutrient-dense and full of antioxidants, seaweed is  a good source of the immune boosting vitamins A, C, E and beta-carotene. One of the best sources of iodine, which is important in thyroid health, but also acts as an antioxidant, antimicrobial by nature and  can help regulate and boost immune function.  [4]

Seaweed is also a better source of  copper and iron per gram than beef or spinach, which is important in optimal immunity.  Sea veggies are rich in plant compounds called lignans which have been isolated for their cancer-protective properties and are a good source vegan source of omega-3 fatty acids, the key building block of cell membranes  which can ease inflammation and boost immunity [5]

Sea vegetables come in a wide variety of seaweed types and styles such as raw, pickled, dried, and toasted. If you’re just getting started with seaweed, Nori, those thin sheets of seaweed that are wrapped around your sushi rolls, is one of the easiest ways to use it in your kitchen. You can learn to make your own sushi at home, or simply use it to wrap around avocado and veggies. Kelp granules are another easy way to get more seaweed in your diet. A little bit salty, simply sprinkle some over your salads, popcorn, or soups to season.

Before eating seaweed, check with a doctor if you have any thyroid condition or are on thyroid medication.

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5. Kuzu (Kudzu) Root Starch

When the weather gets chilly, we naturally tend to crave heartier dishes with thicker sauces, soups, stews, and gravies. To thicken these dishes, ingredients like cornstarch or flour are traditionally used. But if you’re looking for a healthier option, kuzu starch is a healthy and gluten-free alternative. It can also be used to thicken desserts while adding creaminess to pies, puddings and cheesecakes. 

Widely used and native in China and Japan, and also known as Pueraria, Pueraria root, and Ge Gen, Kuzu root is one of the most important herbs in traditional Chinese medicine. High in antioxidants, kuzu has been used as a natural remedy for everything from colds, sore throats, headaches, upset stomach and indigestion as well as alcohol cravings and hangovers, and as a way to beat fatigue. [6]

Kuzu root starch, like this organic one from Eden Foods, comes in a ground white powder. It’s totally flavorless and easy to use. For each cup of liquid, simply dissolve 1 tablespoon Kuzu in 2 tablespoons cold liquid to thicken desserts, or 1 tsp Kuzu in 2 tsp cold liquid to thicken sauces or gravies. Simply whisk in until clear and thick and warmed and add more until you get the consistency you’re looking for.

As a cold or stomach ache remedy, try adding a teaspoon of kuzu to the warm tea of your choice. 

Note: Avoid kudzu if you’re taking methotrexate, tamoxifen or have hormone-sensitive cancer.

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6. Raw Apple Cider Vinegar

Raw Apple Cider Vinegar or ACV for short, has a cult following for everything from helping to boost weight loss to reducing acid reflux and indigestion. But, studies have shown that apple cider vinegar has antimicrobial properties with the ability to kill off certain bacteria, yeasts, and fungal infections. [8] While studies are mixed on whether ACV is an effective cold remedy, apple cider vinegar with the “mother” – a cloudy residue you’ll see in the bottom of the jar- is a good source of antioxidants and probiotics that can aid in gut and immune health.

Either way, it’s a healthy vinegar that should be in every pantry.  To get the good stuff, just make sure the label says raw and with the mother. Use apple cider vinegar in your salad dressings, marinades or add a splash to soups and stews for a little tang. Use it to quick pickle veggies.  

Try this one from Certified Organic Apple Cider Vinegar Detox Tonic from Dynamic Health Laboratories which is blended with ginger and lemon as a cleansing digestive aid and tonic before eating to help improve digestion or to boost energy in the morning.

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7. Immune Boosting Teas

Cold weather is the best tea weather. So why not stock up your pantry with some immune boosting teas? There’s so many varieties to choose from and each of the ingredients in the tea you choose will carry their own benefits. 

Here are a few beneficial teas and tea ingredients to stock your pantry with:

  • Elderberry (Sambucus nigra): strengthen the respiratory system and enhance immune response. [9]
  • Rosehips (Rosa canina): Bright and tangy, rosehips are potent immune boosters and have the highest amount of vitamin C of all fruits and vegetables. [10]
  • Thyme (Thymus vulgaris):  This herb can be used as a cough remedy and soothe the respiratory system. [11]
  • Dandelion: (Taraxaci officinales): Antimicrobial and antiviral, dandelion is nutrient rich and can help promote healthy liver and detoxification. Several test-tube studies found that dandelion extract significantly reduced the ability of viruses to replicate (12, 13).
  • Tulsi: also known as Holy basil, this naturally sweet herb is amazing for a deep night’s rest, but can also boost immunity and help with stress and anxiety. [14]
  • Echinacea (Echinacea purpurea): A flowering herb native to North America, echinacea has been used as an immune defense for centuries. [15]
  • Green Tea/Matcha: A great boost of energy without the jitters green tea which is high in antioxidants called catechins has been shown in studies to increase metabolism, lower cholesterol, decrease inflammation and can even boost the activity of immune system cells.  [16, 17 ] With the highest amounts of antioxidants of all green teas, Matcha is a type of green tea in which the leaves are finely ground and the whole leaf is ingested instead of steeped. Matcha can be used in baked goods as well. Try swapping out your coffee for a matcha latte instead.

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8. Raw Honey

An all natural-way to sweeten your tea or coffee, raw honey is a superfood you’ll want in your cool weather pantry. Raw honey is honey which has simply been strained and left full of beneficial nutrients, enzymes, and antioxidants. Raw honey is naturally antimicrobial and can help soothe a sore throat.

Raw honey is also:

  • Anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-bacteria, anti-fungal and can help boost immunity. A review in 2021 found honey is a helpful remedy that “was superior to usual care for the improvement of symptoms of upper respiratory tract infections.” [18]
  • A source of vitamins like Vitamin C, pantothenic acid (B5), niacin (B3) )and riboflavin; along with minerals such as calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium and zinc [ 19]
  • Good for healthy digestion and can help lower bad cholesterol levels [20]

Commercial honeys (not labeled raw) are usually heavily processed and pasteurized (treated with heat), ultra filtered, sometimes watered down or cut with corn syrup.  All of these things affect most of the health benefits of honey in its pure natural state. If it doesn’t say raw on the label, it’s not raw honey.

Besides sweetening teas and coffee, marinades and salad dressings, we love it drizzled over Greek yogurt or goat cheese or used in baked goods like muffins or cornbread. One thing to note is that raw honey may be cloudy compared to the commercial stuff. That just means it’s full of good healthy stuff. 

Honey is still sugar, so be sure to use it in moderation.

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9. Mushrooms

Warm, earthy, and sometimes nutty, mushrooms shine in the richer, heavier dishes like stews, soups, pastas and risottos we tend to see in fall and winter.  But besides being tasty, mushrooms are high in nutrients, antioxidants and have a variety of health and immune boosting benefits. 

Mushrooms are:

  • Rich in a type of soluble fiber called beta-glucan, it can help lower bad cholesterol and boost the immune system. Oyster and shitake mushrooms are especially high in beta-glucans. [21, 22]
  • The best dietary source for the powerful antioxidants glutathione and ergothioneine, which can help protect cells from damage. [23] Glutathione, called the body’s “master antioxidant”  is also needed to help cells with detoxification. [24] Porcini mushrooms are particularly rich in these compounds. 
  • High in protein, mushrooms have over a dozen vitamins and minerals including nutrients like B12, vitamin C, selenium zinc, potassium and copper. They can also be a good food source of vitamin D which we always use more of in the colder months when sunlight is minimal.

Since different varieties of mushrooms carry different amounts of nutrients, try adding a wide variety to your diet. They’re also super versatile to use in the kitchen! Besides sautéing and roasting, mushrooms can be added to soups, stews, omelettes, pastas, salads, or mixed in with meat loafs or meatballs for what we call a flexitarian style dish. They also make a great meat-like addition to vegetarian and vegan dishes. 

For some new delicious ways to get your mushrooms , try naturally energizing mushroom hot chocolate and our new favorite snack: mushroom jerky!

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iHerb has a variety of products for all your healthy pantry needs! 

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