Nutrition is important for boosting your immune system and fall harvest foods are here to help. Now that it is cold and flu season, stay healthy by making sure you are eating right and getting the nutrition you need. Here are key nutrients to protect you this season.

Protein from Pistachios

Immune system cells and antibodies that work to fight disease and infection rely on protein to function well. When seeking out protein, many people think of meat, but plant protein is also a reliable protein source for a strong immune system. This is harvest season for pistachios, which grow right here in California and are an unexpected, but good source of plant protein. Wonderful Pistachios No Shells Lightly Salted are convenient for healthy recipes that need an added crunch. Pistachios’ pop of green color derived from antioxidants adds visual interest to rice pilaf, baked goods and fresh salads on any holiday table.

Polyphenols from Pomegranate  

If you have heard about the health benefits of polyphenols, wine and chocolate probably come to mind. However, pomegranates are a seasonal food with serious antioxidant superpowers for your immune system. To maximize the polyphenol antioxidant levels, POM Wonderful 100% Pomegranate Juice is made by a whole-pressed process that extracts the polyphenols in the rind, pith and arils. So one 8-ounce bottle contains the nutrients from two whole pomegranates. That’s 700 mg of polyphenols per serving. You can incorporate this juice into your holiday meal by poaching pears in pomegranate juice for a sweet treat, adding it to your cranberry sauce or using it along with herbs and spices in a meat or poultry marinade.

Beta Carotene from Winter Squash

Beta carotene is a pigment in red and orange fruit and vegetables. It is converted to vitamin A in the body, which in turn helps support a healthy immune system. Beta carotene has both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It assists in keeping the mucous membranes, or cells lining the lungs, digestive tract and other parts of the body that are susceptible to infection, nourished to properly withstand harmful viruses and bacteria. Winter squash like butternut, acorn, kabocha and spaghetti squash are rich in beta carotene. Squash is easily incorporated into seasonal and holiday recipes like soup, stuffing, pie, roasted vegetables, and sautéed greens.

Vitamin C from Brussels Sprouts

Vitamin C cannot be produced by the body so it is essential that we get it from food. Vitamin C plays a role in repairing tissue all over the body. Studies have looked into the possibility that vitamin C can even help decrease the length of cold symptoms. When it comes to vitamin C, most of us think of oranges, but there is a world of foods that can rival the vitamin C content of an orange. For example, ½ cup of cooked Brussel sprouts, which are in season now, contains more than half a day’s need for vitamin C.

Antioxidants from Culinary Herbs

While fresh and dry herbs are available year-round, they are a cozy way to add a depth of flavor and aroma to your favorite fall dishes. Herbs like rosemary, oregano, sage and thyme are known for their anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and immune-boosting properties. You can reap the taste and health benefits of herbs by adding them to stew, soup, roasted potatoes and pasta.

Eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods that are in-season is a great way to take care of your immune system. Of course, you can also protect yourself by practicing regular hand washing and getting your yearly flu shot.