Stress and sleep deprivation caused by the global coronavirus pandemic can lead many to turn to comfort food but experts say now is the time to focus on nutritious eats.
Nutrition is important for a healthy immune system, said Erica Hawkins, registered dietician with the Straub Medical Center’s Ornish Lifestyle Medicine Program.
Instead of stocking up on cans of Spam and Vienna sausages, Hawkins recommended fresh fruits and vegetables such as oranges, carrots, beets, green beans, bell peppers, spinach kale, broccoli and cauliflower.
She also said frozen fruits and vegetables are just as nutritious. “Any kind of frozen produce is almost always flash frozen after they’re picked and washed. It’s very fresh,” she added.
Citrus fruits, vegetables and leafy greens are rich with vitamins and antioxidants that are needed to keep our immune systems healthy, she said. Even canned fruits and vegetables are better than consuming no fruits and vegetables at all, Hawkins said.
Soy-based food such as edamame and tofu are also recommended.
Hawkins said canned beans are ideal to have on hand because you can mix those with rice and frozen spinach, for example, for a healthy and low-cost meal.
Nuts, seeds and salmon are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Canned mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring are other options.
Hawkins noted spices and flavorings such as tumeric, ginger, chili flakes and curry add a nutritional boost to dishes.
“These are the kind of foods we should be normally eating. Just doing that alone can make you feel better because it helps you stay healthy, gives you more energy and gives you a clearer mind,” she said.