Immune-building seasonal salads


Immune-building seasonal salads


Are you trying to consume more foods that support your immune system?

Fruits, vegetables, nuts and beans provide nutrients that can boost immune function, according to Sue Pritchard Downie, RD, a registered dietitian who offers nutritional guidance to cancer patients at Greenwich Hospital.

Beta-carotene, for instance, is a powerful antioxidant that can reduce inflammation and boost immune function by increasing disease-fighting cells in the body. Sources include carrots, sweet potatoes and green leafy vegetables.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps destroy free radicals and supports the body’s natural immune response. Sources include oranges, strawberries, red peppers, broccoli, mangoes, lemons, and other fruits and vegetables.

Zinc, a mineral that can help boost white blood cells, defends against invaders. Sources include nuts, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, beans and lentils.

Pritchard Downie’s salad ideas combine these three immune-supporting nutrients.

Crunchy Slaw
  • Grated carrot (rich in beta-carotene)
  • Finely sliced or grated cabbage (rich in vitamin C)
  • Roasted pumpkin seeds (rich in zinc)

Mix the vegetables together and add your favorite dressing; vinaigrette works well. Choosing a yogurt-based dressing (such as Greek yogurt, mayonnaise and a little grainy mustard) provides the added benefit of immune-supporting probiotics. Sprinkle with pumpkin seeds.

Citrus Spinach Salad
  • Baby spinach (rich in beta-carotene)
  • Sliced orange or tangerine segments (rich in vitamin C)
  • Pecans or sunflower seeds (rich in zinc)

Toss together the spinach and citrus segments. Add your favorite dressing, or make a citrus vinaigrette with 1 tablespoon of orange juice, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and ½ teaspoon of mustard. Garnish with pecans or sunflower seeds.

For more information on foods to support a healthy immune system, visit, the website of registered dietitians and nutritionists.