As Covid concerns continue to spread, consumers are starting to look for foods that will help improve their bodies’ natural defenses. As a result, many of the most cutting-edge snack companies are starting to infuse everything from protein bars to electrolyte shakes with immunity-boosting 'hero ingredients.' Clearly, this is already paying off: protein bar sales grew by a whopping 20 percent in March of this year compared to the same period last year.
Here are the Top 10 Immunity-Boosting, Real Food Ingredients (great to infuse in snack foods like protein bars):
1. Green tea
Both green and black tea are packed with flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. But what makes green tea a more powerful immunity-boosting ingredient is its high levels of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG is an antioxidant known to enhance immune function and protect the cell’s ability to defend itself against harmful bodies. Furthermore, green tea is a good source for L-theanine, an amino acid that aids the production of germ-fighting compounds in T-cells.
Green tea is a real food ingredient that contains both antiviral and antibacterial properties. As such, food entrepreneurs using green tea in their protein bars will capture the attention of many health-conscious consumers.
A part of the ginger family, turmeric is a well-known anti-inflammatory and “superfood”. Turmeric is a popular immunity-boosting ingredient as it contains curcumin, which provides powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Similar to green tea, it also carries anti-3CL substances that strengthen the immune system's response to harmful viral bodies.
In addition to being an immune-booster, turmeric is one of the Top 5 Protein Bar Friendly Adaptogens. As such, it is an ingredient that food entrepreneurs should consider sourcing when creating their protein bars.
Like turmeric, ginger is dense with antioxidant compounds that have potent anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. Ginger is especially effective at decreasing inflammation, from sore throats to lung inflammation and any other inflammatory symptoms. With both antibacterial and antiviral properties, ginger keeps the immune system healthy.
4. Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits—such as grapefruits, oranges, lemons, and limes—are an excellent source of Vitamin C. Vitamin C increases the production of white blood cells and builds up the immune system. Furthermore, citrus fruits contain other vitamins, minerals, and anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds that enhance the body’s overall health, including B vitamins, magnesium, and flavonoids. They remain an essential part of a growing list of immune-boosting ingredients that consumers are looking for in their products.
Almonds contain lots of healthy fats, fiber, protein, and magnesium. They are particularly rich in vitamin E, a key nutrient that acts as an antioxidant in the body and strengthens the immune system from any infections or diseases.
Although almonds are already common in protein bars, they are important now more than ever. Entrepreneurs should turn their attention to sourcing these almonds organically to distinguish their products from other protein bars.
6. Sunflower seeds
Sunflower seeds are full of nutrients, including magnesium, vitamin B-6, and vitamin E. They also contain the micronutrient selenium, which helps the body and immune system control cell damage. Another common protein bar ingredient, food entrepreneurs should continue to use sunflower seeds to remain competitive with other brands.
7. Bone broth
Bone broth is extremely nutrient-rich. It has many essential minerals, like calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus, that help flush out toxins and reduce inflammation. Its amino acids also seal any openings in the gut, improving the body's gut health. As a result, bone broth is highly beneficial to the immune system.
Bone broth is low in calories and high in protein, making it a great addition to any protein bar. Bone broth is especially a “must” for entrepreneurs interested in keto protein bars as bone broth helps the body convert fat into energy efficiently.
Kale is an immune-boosting superfood with high levels of vitamin C. As a super antioxidant, vitamin C helps the body fight off infections and regenerate other antioxidants in the body, including vitamin E. Kale also contains beta carotene, selenium, iron, and antioxidants as well as folate, an immune booster known for its ability to aid in the production of red and white blood cells in the bone marrow.
As a superfood, kale has been a popular real food ingredient among health-conscious consumers for the last couple of years. Food entrepreneurs that leverage kale's health benefits and popularity will gain a bigger market share.
Mushrooms are considered to be one of nature’s healthiest foods, rich in essential nutrients and minerals. They are high in selenium, B vitamins (riboflavin and niacin), and zinc, which are necessary for the immune system to work optimally. Zinc is especially important because, like vitamin C, it aids in the production of white blood cells to help the body fight off diseases and infections.
Another one of the Top 5 Protein Bar Friendly Adaptogens, mushrooms are a nutrient-dense plant protein ingredient, perfect for flexitarian-focused protein bar entrepreneurs.
Although low in vitamins and minerals, honey is dense in many important antioxidants, like flavonoids. Its antioxidants are very effective at removing free radicals from the body and combined with its antibacterial properties, honey can boost the immune system.
Instead of using refined sugar, entrepreneurs should consider using honey to reap its immunity-boosting benefits.