KiwiKiwis contain between 90 and 110 milligrams of vitamin C — more than an average orange. They are a good source of potassium, an important mineral for strong muscles and nerves, plus immune-boosting vitamin E. They are also packed with flavonoids and carotenoids — antioxidants that promote respiratory health, heart health and optimum well-being, says Suki Hertz, M.S., R.D., nutrition professor at the Culinary Institute of America. Cut kiwis in half and scoop out the flesh for a fruit salad or mash up and stir into plain yogurt.
PapayaPapayas are praised for their anti-inflammatory properties. They're also an excellent source of vitamin C—one medium papaya supplies 313 percent of your daily requirement, explains Hertz. Additionally, they are a great source of beta-carotene, a phytonutrient that gets converted to vitamin A in your body and keeps eyes, skin and mucous membranes moist. Have a few slices for breakfast in the morning or blend some with orange juice for a tropical smoothie.
GingerIf you feel a cold coming on ward it off with ginger, which can alleviate cold symptoms and clear nasal passages. It also promotes digestive health, reduces gas pains and relaxes the intestinal tract, explains Hertz. If you find yourself battling a stomach bug or winter cold, try steeping slices of fresh ginger in hot water for a soothing and healthy morning drink.
Pumpkin SeedsPumpkin seeds are packed with vitamins, amino acids and minerals, including zinc. Zinc helps the immune system by acting as an antioxidant and minimizing damage to cell membranes from free radicals, explains Hertz. Pumpkin seeds are delicious alone or sprinkled in yogurt, oatmeal or cereal. For a sweet and spicy breakfast on the go, try this energy mix.
Wheat GermFull of essential vitamins and fats, wheat germ, the nutrient source of the wheat grain, can help give your immune system a boost. It's also high in vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps fight inflammation, says Hertz. Sprinkle wheat germ in yogurt, oatmeal or cold cereal.
BeetsGive your morning glass of orange juice a boost by blending it with cooked beets — just remember to strain it before serving. Packed with antioxidants and magnesium, a mineral that assists with nerve and muscle function, beets are also especially rich in folate. This B vitamin helps prevent serious birth defects and is important for women of childbearing age and for heart health, explains Hertz.
Flax SeedsFlax seeds are chock-full of important nutrients and minerals, including vitamin E, an antioxidant that keeps cells healthy, and alpha-linolenic acid, a vegetarian source of omega-3 fatty acids. To obtain these healthy fats, flax seeds must be ground first, explains Hertz. A coffee grinder works perfectly for this.
Famous for their nutty flavor, flax seeds can be sprinkled on yogurt, oatmeal or cold cereal. Flax oil is another option and a good way to add important nutrients to smoothies. Both flax seeds and flax oil are highly perishable and should be kept in the refrigerator for up to three months.