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Bananas are rich in potassium and will give you that much-needed energy boost

Tuesday December 27,2011

By Kirsten Hartvig

CHANCES are as you read this you are feeling bloated, sluggish and a little worse for wear. Eating to excess, too many late nights and a few days cooped up with the family rooted to the sofa and passing germs around can play havoc with the immune system.

This is the body’s first line of defence and helps it resist infection and serious illness.

If the immune system is under par we become unwell which is why we tend to get coughs and colds when we feel run down. The immune system also protects us against more serious conditions such as cancer and heart disease.
Many foods and spices contain disease-fighting nutrients that boost our immune system and protect us against a host of ailments. Read on to see how to keep yourself in tiptop condition.

Brussels sprouts

Good news for bubble and squeak lovers. Sprouts are rich in vitamin C which is good for strengthening immunity and skin, nerves and mucous membranes.

Make sure you don't feel sluggish this winter

They also help maintain energy and blood fat levels and may protect against asthma, migraine and depression. Rich in compounds called glucosinolates they increase the activity of enzymes that help the body eliminate potential carcinogens and so help fight cancer.


A key ingredient of turkey curry, onion is a natural antibacterial that helps lower cholesterol. Onions also help the body dissolve blood clots.

Onions inhibit the activity of helicobacter pylori, which is the bacterium thought responsible for gastritis and stomach ulcers and also may protect against stomach cancer by reducing the conversion of nitrates to nitrites. Onion soup is a remedy for coughs and colds.



Prawns in avocado make great seasonal starters. Avocado is highly nutritious and full of health benefits. It is rich in potassium which lowers blood pressure and is packed with antioxidants that mop up free radicals, the destructive molecules that trigger the development of cancer and heart disease.

The phytochemicals in an avocado have anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties that combat yeast infections. Avocado also helps protect the skin from ageing and maintains the health of the hair. New research suggests avocado can also help improve sperm health.


A bowl of warming porridge is an excellent way to start a cold day. High in protein and iron the soluble fibre in oats is proven to lower cholesterol. Oats also ease stress and soothe tired nerves.


The basis for many vegetarian dishes, soya contains beneficial phytochemicals some of which halt the growth of hormone-sensitive tumour cells.

Soya is believed to reduce the risk of prostate and breast cancers and can help prevent and treat heart disease.


You probably have bags of spuds left over from Christmas and the good news is they are excellent for your nervous system. They also help ease digestive disorders and stomach ulcers.

Most of their nutrients such as vitamin B, potassium, iron and fibre are in their skins so cook them in their jackets.

Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A and carotenoids which enhance the immune response and help the body deal with infections and cancer. They are also useful in convalescence as they help maintain healthy muscles.


Stay warm by rustling up a carrot and coriander soup. Not only are carrots packed full of vitamin A and carotenoids which are great for eyesight they also help circulation and wound healing.

Carrots help prevent the formation of cancer cells and protect against heart disease.

Puréed carrot is excellent for treating child and infant diarrhoea.


Slice some banana on your morning cereal to give yourself an instant energy boost.

Full of potassium that lowers blood pressure, fibrous bananas are easily digestible and promote healthy skin, hair, nerves and bones.

Curly Kale

This winter vegetable contains three groups of protective phytochemicals (cancer-protecting glucosinolates, bioflavonoids which stimulate the immune system and sterols that absorb cholesterol from food).

These chemicals also facilitate the transport of oxygen to the tissues, support immunity, aid liver function, play a part in controlling blood fat levels and help the body release and use the energy in food.

Curly kale promotes health in the heart, nerves and muscles and protects against high blood pressure, vascular disease and rheumatoid arthritis.


A tomato dip is perfect for parties. Tomatoes are packed with antioxidants and improve the immune response while helping maintain energy levels.

This makes tomatoes a good choice for anyone suffering from conditions such as prostate cancer and heart disease. Tomatoes also boost resistance to infectious diseases and encourage healing.

Brazil nuts

You’ll find a bowl of nuts in most houses at this time of year. It is the combination of vitamin E and selenium that gives this nut its special immune-enhancing properties.

Each of these antioxidants improves the performance of the other to boost the immune system. Selenium activates an enzyme which inhibits the formation of the free radicals that damage DNA. It also protects against infection and suppresses tumour growth.


This guilt-free breakfast is a natural detoxifier and acts on the digestive system and liver.

Grapefruit is an effective pick-me-up when you are lacking energy. It also aids healing by strengthening bones, blood vessels and other tissues. The soluble fibre in grapefruit helps lower cholesterol and other blood fats. It binds with excess cholesterol and bile acids and promotes their excretion from the body.


A prime ingredient of leftover stuffing, sage is an antiseptic which improves the health of mucous membranes. It can also reduce perspiration.

Red Pepper

This colourful vegetable has a high vitamin C content and contains powerful protective antioxidants that increase defence against degenerative disease including the eye condition age-related macular degeneration.


The cook’s most popular flavour enhancer is one of the most effective natural antimicrobials stimulating the production of white blood cells and acting against a range of bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses.

It fights various gastrointestinal infections such as dysentery and typhoid. It contains a volatile oil mostly excreted through the lungs that makes it an excellent remedy for respiratory disorders such as bronchitis and whooping cough.

Garlic acts on the circulatory system to reduce the level of blood fat and cholesterol and over time will lower blood
pressure significantly.


Spinach salad is a healthy addition to any buffet table. The leaves are high in folate which is vital for the healthy development of the foetus. It makes spinach an important vegetable for women before and during pregnancy.

Spinach is also rich in vitamins A, C and K helping protect the skin and stimulate the immune system. The
carotenoids are powerful antioxidants protecting against cancer particularly of the lung, breast and cervix. They also look after the eyes and aid liver function.

Oranges and Satsumas

The high vitamin C content in oranges helps prevent high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. They are useful for the management of gastrointestinal disorders.

Extracted by EMILY KENT SMITH from Eat To Boost Your Immunity (Duncan Baird Publishers, £12.99). To order with free UK delivery, call 0871 988 8367 (10p per minute from BT landlines) with your card details, send a cheque payable to Express Newspapers to: The Express Bookshop, PO Box 200, Falmouth TR11 4WJ or visit

1 comment:

  1. Newspapers online
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