7 plant foods to support your immune system

7 plant foods to support your immune system

What foods should you prioritise in order to maintain robust immune health? Read on to find out


This current climate we have found ourselves in with this virus has created quite the state of fear and panic. At this point, what we can control within ourselves - outside of the fundamentals of washing hands, self isolating etc - is our lifestyle. Plenty of foods out there can contribute to a healthy lifestyle, and whilst I believe this should always be a focus, it is even more important now. Whilst this is definitely not medical advice, read up on these 7 plant foods that can support immunity and promote overall well-being.

Red bell peppers

Containing twice as much Vitamin C as citrus fruits, red peppers are something that you should definitely incorporate into your diet at this moment in time. Vitamin C is a potent immune supporter, as it increases the production of white blood cells, responsible for enhancing our body's ability to fight infection. In animal studies, it has been shown that Vitamin C can increase the body's resistance to viral and bacterial infections. Of course, more human studies are needed.


There's no doubt that broccoli is a powerhouse for the immune system. As well as being loaded with Vitamin C and iron, it also contains Vitamin A which contributes to optimal immune function, strong bones and teeth, and a reduction in the risk of urinary stones. The key to maximising broccoli and its benefits is to lightly steam it, and also add a sprinkle of organic mustard seed powder to boost it's properties.

Bell peppers, especially those of the red variety, and broccoli are two nutritional powerhouses
Bell peppers, especially those of the red variety, and broccoli are two nutritional powerhouses


Garlic is a staple in so many dishes, but it packs a huge immune punch in its own right. Part of the allium group of vegetables, when garlic is chopped it produces allicin, a compound that helps to lower blood pressure, reduce muscle soreness and lower cholesterol.


As well as being high in iron and Vitamin C, spinach also possesses high antioxidant levels and beta-carotene, which is a pigment found in colourful vegetables. Beta-carotene - available in red peppers too - has been shown to offset lung damage caused by oxygen free radicals (atoms that scavenge the body to seek out other electrons to pair with) when there are higher levels of it in the blood. As well as this, spinach is also high in magnesium, which contributes to optimal immune function and regulating blood pressure.


Almonds have high levels of Vitamin E, and being a fat-soluble vitamin, it needs the presence of fat to be able to be absorbed properly. Vitamin E is also key to a healthy and optimally-functioning immune system, and almonds possess this in abundance - as well as the necessary fat content to enhance absorption. A handful will give you over half of your recommended daily dose of Vitamin E.

Garlic and spinach are foods high in antioxidants and immune-boosting vitamins
Garlic and spinach are foods high in antioxidants and immune-boosting vitamins


Papaya, like citrus fruits, are absolutely loaded with Vitamin C. One papaya will give you over 150% of the recommended daily dose of the immune-optimising vitamin, as well as a digestive enzyme called papain that can help lower inflammation. This particular study looks at the influence of papaya in rats, showing clear immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as increasing production of glutathione - a powerful antioxidant that prevents cellular damage. I’ll caveat that by saying more human studies are needed, as animal studies do not always reflect similarly in humans.


Lentils are a protein-packed legume that have high amounts protein, good quality carbohydrates, and zinc - which is particularly important for your body to absorb nutrients and protect the immune system. Ensure that your lentils are properly cooked (or even sprouted) to increase the bioavailability to zinc to fire up your body's defences.

Let me be clear - in the current climate we are in, I am NOT giving medical advice, nor am I qualified to do so in any way, shape or form. But the fact remains that you would put your body in a great position - not just now, but for the future as well - to fight off infection, maintain immunity and restore vitality by focusing on whole-foods. Seeking out foods high in Vitamin C, Vitamin D and nutrients like zinc and magnesium is a sure-fire way to maximise your immunity, so get these into your rotation and reap the benefits for the long-term.


1) Vitamin C may affect lung infection:

2) How to cook broccoli:

3) The health benefits of Allicin:

4) Anti-oxidant and immunostimulant effect of Carica Papaya aqueous extract in acrylamide intoxicated rats: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3508853/