10 Foods That Are Good for the Immune System

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

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 protein
  • Hazelnuts: Vitamins E and C, zinc, iron, and protein
  • Peanut butter: Vitamin E, zinc, iron, and protein
  • Sunflower seeds: Vitamins A, C, E, zinc, iron, and protein
  • Vegetable oils: Vitamin E and zinc
2

Avocado

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.

3

Broccoli

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.

4

Kale

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

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.

6

Oysters

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

Red Bell Pepper

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.

8

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potato

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.

9

Tuna

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.

10

Yogurt

Plain 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.

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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.
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