1. “Kale to the Chief”
Kale packs in a wealth of Vitamin E, an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory effects, which stabilizes immune cells’ membranes, or outer layers. Enhancing your meals with kale adds color, variety, taste, and assists in achieving your (minimum of) 5 cups of fruits and vegetables per day. Want to swap your potato chips with a healthy snack? Kale chips are AMAZING and they will satisfy the craving for crunch! Want to take your kale chips up a notch? Add turmeric or red cayenne pepper to them to increase your metabolic rate and fat burning capability, too (if losing a few holiday pounds is on your to do list)
2. Don’t Chicken Out!
Chicken is high in iron, which assists in regulating T cells (white blood cells essential for immunity). Iron itself consists of two forms, “heme-iron” and “non-heme iron.” Heme-iron, found in animal protein sources, can be absorbed at a maximum rate of 35%, whereas non-heme iron, found in plant-based foods, can only be absorbed at a maximum rate of 20%. Chicken, an excellent source of heme iron, is the heart of a perfect winter meal. Nothing is better than making home made chicken soup on the stove or in the crockpot to warm you up on these cold winter month and ignite you immune system!
3. The Legumes are the way to go!
The amino acids glutamine and arginine prevent oxidative stress and enhance T cell optimal function. Legumes have high amounts of these amino acids, as well as pack in a lot of protein (18 grams per one cup), are essentially fat free (less than one gram per cup), and are high in fiber to promote satiety and even weight loss. Sound too good to be true? Try doing meatless Mondays and give lentils center stage. Mash lentils with an egg, lightly coat with corn meal and grill to make lentil burgers—YUMBO!
4. Salmon is so good, for sooo many reasons
Salmon is high in omega 3 fatty acids, a heart healthy polyunsaturated fat that acts as anti-inflammatory agents. Polyunsaturated fat can be broken down into two types: omega-6 fats and omega-3 fats. Salmon not only provides omega-3 fatty acids that benefit immunity, but also may help to lower the risk of heart disease, and protect against symptoms of depression, dementia, cancer, and arthritis. Here’s a trick with cooking with oily salmon: place it on a rack which itself is on a pan so that it is not sitting in its juices as it bakes.
5. Go for the “Pro” —the Probiotics in Yogurt
Healthy intestinal microflora are key to immunity because they help distinguish beneficial from pathogenic bacteria, leading to regulation of the immune system. Specific probiotics found in yogurt called “Lactobacillius” have been shown to induce a specific immune response that may improve innate immune responses. Look for yogurts that say "live and active cultures" on the label to reap the most benefits! Enjoy yogurt in a meal or as a snack – top it with whole grain cereal or choose plain yogurt and add your own fruit.
There you have it… Your Top 5 for 2015 foods for a New Year, New Year! Go ahead and try these new foods in new and exciting ways, and put your body into great shape for 2015!