Immunity Boosting Foods: Vitamin A
A top nutritionist profiles vitamin A, that boosts your immune function. Plus, there’s a delicious recipe on how to incorporate it in your meal!
When we talk about vitamin A, somehow our school lessons on how it maintains good eyesight and prevents night blindness jumps to mind.
Actually, vitamin A is widely known, which is why even school-going children are well acquainted with the above benefits. However, not many of us are aware that vitamin A is also an important anti-infective vitamin, which simply means it helps your body prevent and fight the onslaught of various infectious diseases. This makes it all the more essential to consume this vitamin in adequate doses during this pandemic.
Popping a capsule of this vitamin might sound like an easy way to get your daily dose of the nutrient, but unfortunately, that won’t do the job. Foods that provide vitamin A are superior to their supplement counterparts for many reasons. One very important reason for that is that a food is not a single nutrient in isolation, but a combination of many other components that make it more wholesome and effective. Therefore, make sure that there are enough food sources of vitamin A present in your daily diet.
Vitamin A is available to us through food in two forms: the ready form (retinol) and the precursor form (carotenoids). The ready form is present in various foods from animal sources, such as eggs and meats. The precursor form is found in green leafy vegetables, such as leaves of amaranth, spinach, fenugreek, moringa, radish leaves and kale. You must also remember that red, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables are also rich in vitamin A: Papaya, watermelon, tomato, pumpkin and carrot are among the better-known sources.Here’s a simple and delicious recipe that uses the ubiquitous tomato, which is always easy to find and is a good source of Vitamin A. The recipe also calls for numerous spices that play an important role to support the body’s immune system.
Spicy Tomato Rice
- 1 cup cooked rice
- 1½ tsp cooking oil (soy/sesame/rice bran)
For the paste
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes
- 5 cloves of garlic
For the topping
- 1/4th cup crumbled paneer/tofu/cheese
Spices & herbs
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp tulsi or basil leaves
- Salt to taste
- Grind in a mixer the tomato and garlic to make a smooth paste.
- Heat the oil in a pan and cook the prepared paste over a medium flame for a couple of minutes.
- Add the cooked rice and gently toss so that the rice grains are covered by the paste evenly.
- Add the salt, black pepper powder and the chopped basil or tulsi leaves and stir it in.
- Once the rice is prepared, sprinkle as a topping the crumbled paneer/tofu/cheese to complete the meal.
- In this recipe, you could also substitute the tomato for any other green leafy vegetable (mentioned above), which are also excellent sources of Vitamin A.
- Black pepper, tulsi and garlic are used in this recipe not simply as taste enhancers, but because of their special properties that boost the immune system.
Neelanjana Singh is a nutrition therapist with 30 years experience and the author of Our Kid Eats Everything.