Nutritionist-Approved Immunity-Boosting Foods

There’s no way around it: Being sick is no fun. Apples may get the most attention when it comes to foods that keep the doctor away, but there are lots of foods that can give your immune system a little lift. Here are some of my top picks for immunity-boosting foods to put on your “get well, stay well” grocery list.

Nutritionist-Approved Immunity-Boosting Foods

By Jessica Cording

Immunity-Boosting Foods


Much of our body’s immune system function takes place in the gut, so eating foods that keep the digestive system healthy and in good working order may help keep us healthy too. Yogurt is packed with beneficial probiotic bacteria that go to work fighting the good fight. Just skip the sweetened versions to save yourself a bunch of sugar, something that’s not doing your body any favors. The protein in yogurt also helps keep your blood sugar stable so you’ll feel more energetic.


One kiwi packs about 85% of your daily vitamin C needs which helps your body outrun or fight off that nagging cold. These little guys also provide copper, another nutrient that’s key to proper immune system function. They’re also packed with potassium which soothes aches and pains and fiber which promotes healthy digestion.


This anti-inflammatory herb has been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of ailments and has been noted in studies for its role in the treatment of cancer, gastrointestinal issues, and diabetes, among other conditions. It also happens to be great for kicking major butt when it comes to the cold and flu.

Make a healing tea by boiling a teaspoon of turmeric in water. Take it off the heat and add a ¼ teaspoon each of ground ginger and black pepper. Sip slowly through the day and say “see ya” to those sniffles.

Pumpkin Seeds:

Pumpkin seeds are packed with zinc, a mineral essential to immune system function. A quarter-cup serving provides about 20% of your daily needs. They’re also a great source of magnesium, another mineral needed for normal muscle and nerve function so your body can work at its peak potential and scare off invaders. They’ve also been studied for their antioxidant properties. Pumpkin seeds are rich in ALA, a plant-based form of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. The protein in pumpkin seeds helps your body stay energized and perform at its peak.


These legumes provide filling protein and fiber and make a great addition to soups, salads, and grain dishes. You can also use them in place of chickpeas when making hummus. Lentils are packed with iron, a mineral that’s important because of its role in transporting oxygen through the blood to help your body—and immune system—function efficiently and ward off infections. A half-cup of cooked lentils provides almost 20% of your daily iron needs. To boost the absorption of the iron, eat lentils in a dish with vitamin C-rich foods such as tomatoes, peppers, or sweet potatoes.

What are your favorite immunity-boosting foods? 

By Jessica Cording, MS, RD, CDN: Jessica is a registered dietitian and writer in NYC. She blogs at Keeping It Real Food

Image via Gal Meets Glam. 

14 Responses to Nutritionist-Approved Immunity-Boosting Foods

  1. Just what I needed to read as I’m fighting a nasty cold! I love kiwi’s, so I’m definitely going to make sure I eat them more often. And that turmeric tea sounds good, too. As a nutritionist, what are your thoughts about supplements like Emergen-C to prevent or help shorten a cold?

    • Elana Lyn Gross says:

      Oh no! Feel better, lady. Just chatted with Jess. Here’s what she said: Generally, I encourage food first. A balanced diet that meets all your nutrient needs is good medicine. Supplements can address gaps. That said, those cold supplements may not guarantee you completely avoid a cold or significantly shorten the duration. Taking too much may actually cause some side effects too if we overdo it. In general, if a little helps you feel better, I think those things may be fine, but there’s no replacement for taking care of yourself in general.

  2. Kayleigh says:

    I’ve been trying to incorporate lentils in my daily meals but it’s seriously not as easy because I love brown rice! Love this insight

  3. Alex says:

    I’m definitely saving this post! So much awesome info! I LOOOOOVEEEE Kiwi and yogurt! Glad to know they are both helping my body.

  4. I was sick for about two weeks recently, and it was absolutely awful. I wish I would have known to just stuff myself with kiwi. I feel like that would have helped so much haha. I also had no idea that pumpkin seeds were as awesome as they are. Guess I need to start eating more of them!

  5. Kayla says:

    I had no idea about a lot of this stuff! So interesting and informative!

    Kayla |

  6. Jordyn says:

    I always love learning more about nutrition. I love kiwis but I had no idea they are SO healthy!

  7. Ashley says:

    I need to be incorporating more of these options in my diet! Lentils would be a great addition to get a boost of iron!

    xo Ashley

  8. I wasn’t aware of the benefits of turmeric. I will have to see how I get incorporate it into recipes.

  9. Ashley says:

    I needed this today, a lot of people around me have been sick to I’ve been chugging airborne and eating my citrus fruit! I had never really heard of turmeric!

  10. Morgan says:

    I love yogurt as well! Could eat with every meal!

    How 2 Wear It []

  11. I’m immunosuppressed, so I really, really appreciate this post! I will definitely work harder to include these foods in my diet 🙂

    XO, SS || Seersucker Sass

  12. Sara Kate says:

    My best friend is a nutritionist and she said the same thing! I love lentils!

    Sara Kate Styling

  13. Savannah says:

    I love yogurt and kiwi – I eat both almost everyday – so I felt pretty good about myself when they were at the top of this list :]

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