It’s tough out there.
And your immune system probably agrees considering allergy and flu season, too.
So what can you do?
Take care of yourself.
Make sure to get enough rest, wash your hands, exercise, and eat the right nutrients.
According to a 2017 science journal, a nutritious diet can help immune function, as vitamins, minerals, and other antioxidant properties work to keep it running in tip-top shape.
Note that eating healthy foods is not a guaranteed fix for completely avoiding, curing, or treating viruses and the occasional pollen sneeze.
Diet and immune function are related enough to have an impact.
For this reason, I’ve curated a list of science-backed, immune-strengthening snacks– all-vegan, all-natural, and all wonderful to eat (or drink!) throughout the day.
1. Red Bell Peppers & Hummus
Hummus is a classic plant-based snack.
But red bell peppers are the star of the show here.
This means red bell peppers are a greater source of vitamin C than oranges, on top of their incredible amount of antioxidants.
So, you pair these secret weapon peppers with hummus’ filling properties, and you have an extremely healthy mini-meal.
Blueberries were deemed the “King of Antioxidant Foods” by Healthline.
Studies show this low-cal, nutrient-dense fruit has an extremely high amount of antioxidants, along with other berries like raspberries, blackberries, and wild blueberries specifically.
Just wash ‘em and toss ‘em, whether it’s directly into your mouth or smoothies, granolas, pancakes, and fruit salads.
There’s no wrong way to do it.
3. Green Tea
Green tea has been a popular health resource for thousands of years.
For good reason!
It contains catechins, naturally-occurring antioxidants that help prevent cell damage and fight free radicals in the body.
Word of warning:
Poor-quality green tea brands can sometimes contain high amounts of fluoride.
So choose top-notch when you can!
Green tea may not be the “snackiest” of snacks, but it’s a wonderful way to break up your afternoon water intake.
4. Chips & Salsa
There’s nothing quite like a gorgeous bowl of gleaming salsa.
But no matter which recipe you choose, tomatoes are the celebrity ingredient to focus on.
Scientific evidence shows tomatoes contain lycopene, a potent antioxidant that can help protect the body.
You can eat tomatoes in a variety of different ways.
Although salsa is definitely a terrific choice, especially when paired with whole grain or gluten-free chips.
5. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds, or pepitas, have a high amount of vitamin E, an important, fat-soluble antioxidant that our bodies can’t make on their own.
This means you have to consume adequate amounts of vitamin E in your diet.
And pumpkin seeds are a great place to start.
They’re super easy to travel with and a great alternative to potato chips when you’re feeling like a crunchy snack.
Don’t like pumpkin seeds?
What about almonds?
A study in 2011 concluded that almonds contain antiviral and antioxidant properties, along with cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans.
These properties are in the brown layer of the skin, so try to avoid blanched almonds.
Consume whole, or turn them into almond butter to eat with an apple.
7. Chia Seed Pudding
A 2014 review shows that chia seeds have plenty of antioxidants to go around, as well as digestion benefits from its fiber content.
You can add chia seeds to yogurts, smoothies, plain water, pancakes, oatmeal, salads, cereals, dressings, jams, and more.
They’re also conveniently used as a vegan egg substitute.
But when it comes to snacks, chia pudding is one of your best bets, and this 3-Ingredient Chia Pudding recipe is the perfect example.
So simple, delicious, and immune-improving.
8. Green Smoothie
Don’t let the green color fool you.
That “earthy” taste is easily masked with strong-tasting fruit, like pineapple and mango.
So no need to skimp the spinach!
Dark leafy greens like spinach are high in antioxidants and vitamin C, thus helping the immune system function.
In fact, a 2011 study in eight people found that spinach helped to hinder oxidative damage.
This study was small, but its results are backed up by other animal and human research.
Try this pineapple green smoothie. (Extra points for adding chia seeds!)
9. Citrus Fruits
Just like red bell peppers and spinach, citrus fruits are very high in vitamin C.
These include lemons, limes, grapefruit, sweet oranges, and mandarins.
But what about vitamin C, otherwise known as ascorbic acid, is immune-supporting?
For snacking purposes, cut up a grapefruit or orange to eat raw and add a side of fresh lemon or lime-flavored water.
10. Lemon Turmeric Energy Balls
This Lemon Turmeric Energy Balls recipe is an amazing snack idea for a few reasons:
- It’s filling.
- It contains lemon. (High in vitamin C!)
- It contains turmeric.
It’s best to eat turmeric with black pepper and healthy fats to heighten absorption.
Just more reasons why this recipe is so fantastic!
It calls for a pinch of black pepper and a serving of almonds and chia seeds, both of which are nutritious fat sources.
11. Vegan Broccoli Salad
Who would’ve thought Vegan Broccoli Salad would be so good?
It’s a super source of both crunchy, snackable texture and vitamin C because of the raw broccoli.
Scientists say raw broccoli offers the most amount of vitamin C, compared to cooked, which is why this salad has a lot to offer.
On top of vitamin C, broccoli is also loaded with antioxidants to help strengthen the immune system.
So whether you dip it in hummus, toss with lemon juice, or use the salad recipe, it packs a healthy punch.
12. Crunchy Garlic Roasted Chickpeas
Garlic was used medicinally dating back to ancient Greek and Roman times.
However, now scientists know the reason:
It’s extremely antioxidant.
The health benefits are the result of sulfur compounds created when garlic is chewed, crushed, or chopped, and its potency is enough to protect the body against oxidative damage.
So, if you can include garlic in your snacks, do it!
Like this Crunchy Garlic Roasted Chickpeas recipe– easy yet yummy.
13. Carrots & Guacamole
Carrots and guac might be an unlikely duo, but their immune-boosting properties are high.
Carrots contain carotenoids, a form of antioxidants that studies show to improve immune function and reduce the risk of some illnesses.
And scientists believe avocados to have antibacterial properties, lessening infection opportunities.
Instead of chips, grab carrot sticks!
14. Pomegranate Seeds
Pomegranate seeds have been shown to increase the number of good bacteria in the gut, which could help the body fight off bacterial infections.
They’re often turned into pomegranate juice, which also has a massive amount of vitamin C and three times more antioxidants than green tea.
Its nutritional content can be disrupted when pasteurized, so keep in mind fresh or homemade is the way to go.
Pomegranate seeds or its juice make fantastic healthy snacks.
15. Acai Bowl
Acai bowls hit the trend park these past couple years and rightfully so.
Acai berries are antioxidant-rich round fruits that grow on acai palm trees in Central and South America rainforests.
And they’re even higher in antioxidants than other berries (such as blueberries).
One 2008 study gave 12 participants acai juice, pulp, applesauce, and a placebo at four different times of the day, then tested the antioxidant levels in their blood.
Scientists found that the acai pulp successfully raised antioxidant blood levels, meaning acai is easy to absorb by the gut.
You can usually find acai powder in the health food aisle at your local grocery store or in the frozen fruit section.
It’s extra easy to blend into smoothies along with other tasty fruits like blueberries and bananas, which is where these Super Berry Acai Bowls come in handy.
It’s so fun to play around with beautiful, tasty toppings– not to mention heavenly to eat!
16. Dairy-Free Yogurt
There is an increasing amount of evidence that probiotics can play an important role in immune health, which means bacteria-loaded foods, like yogurt, may play a part.
If you need some dairy-free yogurt suggestions, the “Dairy-Free & Happy: Your Guide to Plant-Based Milk, Cheese, and More” article has all you need to know.
But when it comes to best immune-strengthening, brands with “live and active cultures” labeling means your yogurt is chocked-full with probiotics.
You can also try foods like sauerkraut, kombucha, and miso.
But solely for snack purposes, yogurt wins this round.
Toss in some granola, chia seeds, fruit, or nut butter to mix up the flavors!
Healthy Lifestyles Know Best
As stated earlier, eating healthy foods is not a way out to completely avoiding, treating, or curing disease.
However, since there is growing research that nutrient-rich foods can play a role in improving immune function, it might be worth a try.
At the end of the day, a consistent, healthy lifestyle knows best.
One with regular exercise, hand-washing, rest, and whole foods, like the above 16 vegan immune-improving snacks.
Stay safe and healthy.
And stock up your snacks!
Want to find out even more health perks of a vegan diet? Check out our article: 11 Health Benefits of Eating Vegan