Foods to reduce flu risk

September 18, 2009 Registered dietitian Althea Zanecosky says you needn't go out of your way for foods to boost your immune system.

They are already some of our favorites.

Orange juice, for example, has Vitamin C and more.

"It's also a great source of antioxidants and folic acid, both shown to pump up our immune system," Zanecosky said.

Just 8 ounces a day will give you all you need, according to Zanecosky.

Yogurt is another good food, packed with calcium and protein.

"Yogurt is a great source of bacteria that can crowd out the bad guys in our intestinal tract," Zanecosky said.

Just check the label, to make sure the bacteria is active, and that there are 3 or 4 types. It's even good for those who are lactose intolerant.

Zanecosky says onions and garlic, either raw or cooked, provide allicin, a compound with strong anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties.

And pick up some mushrooms too, they have the mineral selenium, which increases the number of infection-fighting white cells.

Zanecosky says to ward off diseases, your body needs a good supply of zinc, something you get a lot of in meats and seafood.

"Seafoods are highest, crabmeat is also a really good source. But the best source of zinc is beef. Pork and chicken come up pretty close," Zanecosky said.

Tea is an immunity booster in liquid form, regardless whether its black, white, or green.

"In a pilot study at Harvard University, they found that people who drank 5 cups of tea had 10 times the immune function as people who did not," Zanecosky said.

Zanecosky says herbal teas don't pack the same punch.

And she has one more note, supplements don't help build immunity like food does.

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