The big buzzword over the last few years has been “health.” People everywhere have become more aware of their overall physical health. While a select group has always been aware of their physical well-being, a larger group has found a renewed focus on health.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced everyone to reexamine how they treat their bodies. It’s a good trend that doesn’t seem to be short-lived. But instead it is a growing trend in both general foods and restaurants. People are looking for immune-boosting foods everywhere.
What are immune-boosting foods?
What are immune-boosting foods, and why are they so popular? Immune-boosting foods are fruits, vegetables, spices, and herbs packed with essential vitamins and nutrients.
When these foods fuel our bodies, they can more easily absorb and use those essential vitamins and nutrients to help strengthen and sustain our immune systems.
The best news? There are dozens and dozens of different immune-boosting food options, so even the pickiest eater will find something delicious and healthy.
Common Immune-Boosting Foods
When you hear the term “immune-boosting,” you might have a few stand-by foods that come to mind. Many people think of oranges for vitamin C or probiotic-filled yogurts. These great options can improve immune function, but there are dozens more.
Foods like carrots, mangos, tomatoes, and leafy green vegetables are packed with beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is vital to many body systems, especially for a strong immune system. Beta-carotene works to make vitamin A or retinol.
Whether it comes from plant or animal sources, protein is a great nutrient to help boost your immune system. Protein sources are made out of amino acids. These acids include components like T cells, B cells, and other antibodies that act as first responders when fighting an infection.
The desire for these immune-boosting foods is everywhere. Not only are people shopping for them on their weekly grocery store trip, but people want to see more of these options in the restaurant and take-out food options, too. Restaurants looking to add plant protein to their menus can use protein from soy, peas, tofu, nuts, quinoa, legumes and seeds.
At the Grocery
Grocery stores and product developers are feeling the immune-boosting trends. A recent study showed that nearly 80% of American adults seek foods that support their immune health. So grocery stores, and the companies that supply their foods, are looking to stock the shelves.
Manufacturers and product developers are taking this in stride. Take Activia, for example, a well-known yogurt company. Activia has created and released a new yogurt product packed with more than a billion probiotics in the last year alone. This, and other products like it, are full of immune-boosting vitamins like vitamins C and D and zinc.
Other companies are also taking a hard look at their products and ingredient lists. They’re looking to revamp or improve their products to meet the growing demands of immune-boosting foods and products.
In the Restaurant
And the trend continues when people dine out, too. Restaurant goers are looking for ingredients that help their immune system function at its best.
One interesting development is in drinks. People want to see those immune-focused ingredients – vitamins, herbs, antioxidants – in their drink choices. Restaurants can make a big splash by offering these ingredients without sacrificing flavor and creativity.
Customers love immune-boost add-ins. Drinks like smoothies and coffee can be easy vehicles for a serving of spinach and kale or some of those liquid supplements.
And it’s not just in more traditional dine-in restaurants. Even smaller operations — like express or pop-up shops in established stores or on college campuses — need to include more whole foods, including dark vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, and a wide variety of herbs.
The healthy food kick is here to stay, and everyone is taking notice. People everywhere want healthy food that tastes good and keeps them moving through cold and flu season and beyond! We definitely see immune-boosting foods continue to trend into 2023.