As if we didn’t all need a reason to be concerned about boosting our immunity (ahem, Covid-19), cold and flu season is now upon us, too. For many, as we round the bend toward winter, staying healthy is a top priority.
Fortunately, when it comes to fortifying our immune defenses, there’s a lot we can do to set ourselves up for success. One actually enjoyable means of staying well is choosing the right foods. After all, eating a delicious, antioxidant-rich meal is a lot more fun than taking vitamins or washing your hands a hundred times a day!
If you’re ordering catering for yourself or others this season, here are four important immune-boosting nutrients to bear in mind, along with the foods that contain them. When placing a catering order, keep these healthy menu items at the top of your list.
You probably know vitamin D as the “sunshine vitamin,” but did you know you can get it from food, too? Some foods naturally contain vitamin D, while others, like milk, are fortified with it. Mushrooms are considered the only plant-based source of vitamin D, so load up on a spinach and mushroom piadina tray from Zoe’s Kitchen or veggie egg scrambler with mushrooms from Corner Bakery in your next catering order. As for animal sources of vitamin D, seafood is your best bet. Salmon, tuna, herring, and sardines all contain high amounts. Choose a salmon pita from Zoe’s Kitchen or an albacore tuna sandwich at Corner Bakery.
It used to be that foods got fortified with vitamin D to prevent rickets, a bone disease that afflicts young children—but these days most of us are probably more interested in the role this vitamin plays in the prevention of Covid-19. While more research is needed on the subject, an October 2020 study found that over 80% of people hospitalized with the disease were deficient in vitamin D.
Orange juice for a cold—a dietary magic bullet or old wives’ tale? It’s probably somewhere in between, but in general, experts acknowledge that vitamin C plays an important role in strengthening the immune system. It’s believed that this micronutrients’ antioxidative properties are what makes it an immune powerhouse. (However, once you take in enough of it, your body can’t store any extra—so there’s no need to go above the Daily Value of 90 milligrams for men and 75 milligrams for women.)
Find vitamin C in tasty fruits and veggies like citrus fruits, bell peppers, strawberries, tomatoes, and pineapple. A tropical fruit smoothie from Panera or tomato-based salsa from On the Border, for example, make delicious vitamin C-rich additions to a catered breakfast or lunch.
Even a mild zinc deficiency can lead to a depressed immune system. You can, of course, boost your zinc through supplements, but it’s also smart to get more of this mineral through food. Red meat is the best dietary source of zinc, with 44% of your daily needs in a 3.5 ounce serving, while cheddar cheese comes in at 28% of your Daily Value per 100-gram serving. Try Dickey’s Barbecue Pit’s beef brisket or Panera’s broccoli cheddar soup.
What is selenium, exactly? It’s a trace mineral your body uses for many purposes—immune function included. You only need a tiny amount (55 micrograms) of selenium per day, but getting enough can make a real difference for fighting off infection. Among the highest-selenium foods are meats and fish. A ham panini from Panera, turkey bagel sandwich from Einstein Bros’ Bagels, or pulled pork platter from Dickey’s Barbecue can all contribute to your daily total.
Need help ordering healthy catering? Ask a CaterSquad rep to help you make good-for-you choices by calling or texting 858.999.5129.