Nutrition Basics 10 Foods That Are Good for the Immune System By Shereen Lehman, MS Shereen Lehman, MS Shereen Lehman, MS, is a former writer for Verywell Fit and Reuters Health. She's a healthcare journalist who writes about healthy eating and offers evidence-based advice for regular people. Learn about our editorial process Updated on June 30, 2021 Medically reviewed Verywell Fit articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and nutrition and exercise healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Barbie Cervoni MS, RD, CDCES, CDN Medically reviewed by Barbie Cervoni MS, RD, CDCES, CDN Facebook LinkedIn Twitter Barbie Cervoni MS, RD, CDCES, CDN, is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Your immune system helps to protect you against various infections and conditions, from colds to influenza. It may play a part in minimizing seasonal allergy symptoms and even preventing certain types of cancers. A balanced diet is one that includes the best foods to support your immune system. Nutrients like protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, and iron can help keep your immune system functioning properly. The best foods for your immune system are going to be naturally high in these nutrients. You'll also want to consume more foods containing probiotics, the gut-friendly bacteria that help balance the flora in your digestive system. While they're not nutrients, research has shown an association between probiotics and improved immune function. Get more nutrients and probiotics in your diet by adding these ten foods to your weekly meal plan. Each food is high in two or more of the vital nutrients that help to keep your immune system strong and healthy. 1 Almonds Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman Almonds are high in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that protects cells from damage caused by free radicals. Almonds also contain iron and protein that are essential to healthy immune system function. They are easy to find in any grocery store, perfect as a healthy snack, and can be added to salads, yogurt, and more. Other food sources of vitamin E include vegetable oils, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts (and other nuts), and peanut butter, which also contain other immunity-boosting nutrients. Almonds: Vitamin E, iron, and proteinHazelnuts: Vitamins E and C, zinc, iron, and proteinPeanut butter: Vitamin E, zinc, iron, and proteinSunflower seeds: Vitamins A, C, E, zinc, iron, and proteinVegetable oils: Vitamin E and zinc Almond Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits 2 Avocado Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman Avocado is well-known for being a rich source of monounsaturated fatty acids, similar to olive oil, but it also provides vitamin E, vitamin C, iron, and zinc. Add avocado slices to a sandwich, make guacamole, or top a healthy salad with cubes of avocado. Benefits and Risks of Dietary Supplements 3 Broccoli Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman One cup of raw chopped broccoli provides almost a full day's worth of vitamin C, which is essential for immune system function because it helps stimulate the formation of antibodies. Other foods containing vitamin C include citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi fruit, and Brussels sprouts. Broccoli also provides vitamin A and plant-based iron, which are also important for your immune system. Nutritional Benefits of Broccoli 4 Kale Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman Kale is a cruciferous vegetable that's related to cauliflower, arugula, and broccoli. It's rich in so many nutrients, including vitamin A, which is important for healthy skin and mucous membranes. Other sources of vitamin A include carrots and spinach. Kale is also a source of vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, and zinc. 5 Mango Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman Mangos were once considered an exotic fruit, but now they're easy to find in many grocery stores. Look for mangos in the produce and freezer sections. This superfruit is loaded with vitamins A, C, and E. Mango Nutrition Facts 6 Oysters Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman Oysters are good for your immune system because they're very high in zinc. You can boost your intake of zinc with other shellfish, beef, baked beans, and pumpkin seeds. Oysters are also an excellent source of protein and iron and contain a modest amount of vitamin A. Try oyster stew for dinner or have raw oysters as an appetizer. You can find canned or fresh, raw oysters in most grocery stores. 7 Red Bell Peppers Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman Red bell peppers are good for your immune system because they're high in both vitamins C and A. They also contain vitamin E. Red bell peppers make a great addition to any meal—add them to omelets or saute them as a side dish. Health Benefits of Red Bell Pepper 8 Sweet Potatoes Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin A and offer substantial vitamin C, vitamin E, and a little plant-based iron. Sweet potatoes can be baked in the microwave or conventional oven and served with a pat of butter or drizzle of maple syrup. Recipes 9 Tuna Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman Tuna is known as a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, but it's also high in protein, zinc, and selenium, which are all essential for healthy immune system function. Add more selenium to your diet with other types of seafood, Brazil nuts, and ham. Tuna is quite a versatile fish. It can be eaten raw, seared, or grilled, or you can keep a few cans of tuna on hand for sandwiches and salads. Tuna Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits 10 Yogurt Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman Yogurt is one of the best-known dietary sources of probiotics that can give your immune system a boost, but it's also high in protein. You'll also get a small amount of vitamin A and zinc. Keep your yogurt nutritious by choosing plain, unsweetened yogurt and adding nuts, berries, and just a little honey. A Word From Verywell Eating a balanced diet is a great way to ensure that you're getting all the nutrients you need for general health and well-being. By boosting your intake of nutritious foods, you're helping to ensure that your immune system has all the nutrients it needs to continue to function optimally. In addition to eating healthily, there are several measures you can take each day to help support your immune system. Take good care of your health by getting adequate sleep, exercising regularly, and managing your stress levels. The Health Benefits of Vitamin D 9 Sources Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Corthay A. Does the immune system naturally protect against cancer? Front Immunol. 2014;5:197. doi:10.3389/fimmu.2014.00197 Wu G. Dietary protein intake and human health. Food Funct. 2016;7(3):1251-1265. doi:10.1039/c5fo01530h Gombart AF, Pierre A, Maggini S. A review of micronutrients and the immune system-working in harmony to reduce the risk of infection. Nutrients. 2020;12(1). doi:10.3390/nu12010236 Maldonado Galdeano C, Cazorla SI, Lemme Dumit JM, Vélez E, Perdigón G. Beneficial effects of probiotic consumption on the immune system. Ann Nutr Metab. 2019;74(2):115-124. doi:10.1159/000496426 Lee GY, Han SN. The role of vitamin E in immunity. Nutrients. 2018;10(11):1614. doi:10.3390/nu10111614 National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin C: Fact sheet for health professionals. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Vitamin A: Fact sheet for health professionals. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Zinc: Fact sheet for health professionals. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Selenium: Fact sheet for health professionals. Additional Reading FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Klemm S. Support your health with nutrition. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. Overview of the immune system. By Shereen Lehman, MS Shereen Lehman, MS, is a former writer for Verywell Fit and Reuters Health. She's a healthcare journalist who writes about healthy eating and offers evidence-based advice for regular people. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from companies that partner with and compensate Verywell Fit for displaying their offer. These partnerships do not impact our editorial choices or otherwise influence our editorial content.