The Free Press, Mankato, MN


December 3, 2013

Dietitian: Fight illness tastefully with wellness-promoting foods

Q: It seems that everywhere I turn this past week, someone has been getting sick. Are there any foods that help boost immunity?

A: Cold-weather months are notorious for assisting in the spread of bacteria and viruses, experts say, because germs can spread through the air more easily when the temperature and humidity are low.

No food or supplement prevents or cures disease, but some have properties that can enhance your body’s ability to fight off viruses and infections.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is believed to have antiviral properties and may lower the risk of contracting influenza; in a person who already has the flu, it also can help prevent the illness from developing into pneumonia. Vitamin D-containing foods include shiitake and button mushrooms, salmon, herring, sardines, tuna, cod-liver oil and eggs. A vitamin D supplement may be a good choice also, be sure to check with your health-care provider about the right dosage for you.


These “good” bacteria populate our intestines and make up 70 to 80 percent of our immune system. Probiotics help to keep the balance between good and bad and keep your system in check. Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and other fermented foods are a great source of probiotics.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C has been well-known to improve our immune system. It is a powerful antioxidant (think of it as a rust-proofer for our entire body) that gets rid of harmful substances. Enjoy an extra serving of bell peppers, kale, kiwi and citrus fruits.

April Graff, MS, RD, LD, is a reg­istered dietitian at both Mankato Hy-Vee stores and can be reached at or call 625-1107 or 625-9070. Send her ques­tions about food and nutrition, recipes, meal planning and healthy shopping.

Lemon Parmesan Kale Salad 1 bunch kale, stemmed and torn into bite-size pieces. 3 tablespoons olive oil 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 lemon, juiced Sea salt, to taste Black pepper, to taste 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided Red pepper flakes, optional Place the kale in a large bowl. Drizzle olive oil over the kale and add garlic. Massage the oil into the kale. Add lemon juice, salt and pepper. Then, stir in 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese and add red pepper flakes (if desired). FInally, garnish with the remaining Parmesan cheese. NOTE: It is best to let this salad sit for at least 1 hour, or overnight.

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