15 Foods High in Vitamin E That Support Immunity and Heart Health | appencode.com

15 Foods High in Vitamin E That Support Immunity and Heart Health

Vitamin E might not be as popular as other buzzy vitamins (we’re looking at you, vitamins D and C), but it plays a vital role in human health. It’s also an essential nutrient, meaning the body doesn’t make it, and we need to get it through our diets. Men and women ages 14 and older need 15 milligrams per day, according to the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, though it’s not recommended to take vitamin E supplements unless you’re dealing with a deficiency.

Why? Excessive supplementation can lead to heart issues, says Connie Elick, MS, RD, registered dietitian and instructor of plant-based culinary arts at the Institute of Culinary Education in Los Angeles. It can also cause adverse side effects (think nausea and digestive upset), negatively interact with medication, and increase the risk of bleeding. Instead, it’s best to get the nutrient from our diets. But where can you find it? Read on to learn the benefits of vitamin E and what foods contain it. Plus, easy preparation tips for enjoying each one.

A Guide to Chronic Inflammation — Plus, an Anti-Inflammatory Diet Plan

Health Benefits of Vitamin E

In the body, vitamin E primarily acts as an antioxidant, meaning it prevents free radicals (i.e., harmful molecules) from causing oxidative damage to cell membranes, DNA, and proteins. This helps pump the brakes on oxidative stress, a major factor in the development of chronic conditions such as heart disease and cancer. It’s also beneficial for the immune system, as the protective mechanisms of vitamin E extend to immune cells as well, Elick explains. Specifically, vitamin E keeps the membranes of immune cells healthy, reducing the risk of infections, she adds. 

As vitamin E manages oxidative stress and supports immunity, it also reduces inflammation, according to Johanna P. Salazar, MS, RDN, registered dietitian and founder of Healing Nutrition. “Inflammation in the body can be caused by conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and infections,” explains Salazar. And if vitamin E levels are low, the body’s immune response will have a hard time fighting this inflammation, she says.

Vitamin E Absorption

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it “requires the presence of fat, as well as bile from the liver, in order to be absorbed into the small intestine,” says Elick. In fact, a low-fat diet can decrease absorption of vitamin E and other fat-soluble vitamins (i.e., vitamins A, D, and K), she adds. For this reason, vitamin E should be paired with a source of fat — like avocados, olive oil, or nuts — for optimal nutrient absorption, says Salazar.

Foods with Vitamin E

1. Hazelnut oil

With an impressive 6 milligrams of vitamin E per tablespoon — about 40 percent of the daily recommended intake — hazelnut oil is an excellent source of vitamin E. “Hazelnut oil is a great oil to include in salad dressings,” says Kristen Carli, MS, RD, registered dietitian and founder of Camelback Nutrition and Wellness. She suggests drizzling it on top of salads with red wine vinegar, salt, and lemon pepper.

2. Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds might be tiny, but they pack quite a punch. A half-cup serving provides about 25 milligrams of vitamin E, which is more than a day’s worth! The seeds are perfect for mixing into snacks like granola or trail mix — or if you’re craving something savory, you can top your favorite salad with sunflower seeds or mix them in with Greek yogurt, Elick suggests.

3. Collard greens

For a quick boost of vitamin E, add collard greens to your rotation. In one cup, you’ll get 0.8 milligrams of vitamin E, which isn’t a ton, but every little bit counts! If you’re new to collard greens and unsure how to prepare it, Carli suggest steaming them and then topping with a drizzle of olive oil and red wine vinegar for a simple yet tasty side dish. You can also add it to salads, stews, and wraps, just like you would other leafy greens.

The 9 Best Greens Powders of 2024, Tested & Reviewed

4. Peanut butter

peanut butter

Creamy and satisfying, peanut butter is a versatile source of vitamin E, with nearly 2 milligrams in one tablespoon. Salazar recommends enjoying it with celery sticks or apple slices for a simple snack. It also makes a creamy addition to smoothies, whole wheat crackers, and sandwiches.

5. Asparagus

For a quick weeknight meal, take a tip from Carli and sauté asparagus in olive oil with a bit of minced garlic and red chili flakes, then serve it with your go-to source of protein. You’ll get nearly 2 milligrams of vitamin E in every cup of asparagus.

6. Almonds

With approximately 7 milligrams of vitamin E per ounce (or 23 pieces), almonds are a stellar source of the nutrient. They also offer plant-based protein and anti-inflammatory fats, which aid vitamin E absorption. 

Enjoy almonds on their own, add them to your oatmeal, or pair them with dried fruit, Elick says. Another option is to roughly chop almonds and use them as a coating on a hearty protein, like chicken or fish.

The 3 Hidden Health Benefits of Almonds You Didn’t Know About

7. Spinach

One cup of raw spinach contains 0.6 milligrams of vitamin E. However, as spinach shrinks considerably when cooked, it’s easy to add multiple cups to soups, stews, and chilis. Want to keep it simple? Salazar suggests blending it into your morning smoothie, adding it to your favorite sandwich, or sautéing the leaves in avocado oil and garlic for a tasty side dish.

8. Pumpkin puree

pumpkin puree

To increase your intake of vitamin E, add pumpkin puree to your recipes. One cup of canned pumpkin puree contains nearly 3 milligrams of the nutrient. “Stir pumpkin puree into applesauce or make it into a [creamy] soup,” Elick suggests. It also makes for a delicious seasonal smoothie when blended with bananas, yogurt, cinnamon, and milk of your choice.

9. Red bell pepper

The next time you’re craving a savory snack, Carli suggests enjoying sweet red bell pepper with Greek yogurt mixed with ranch seasoning. The combo is crunchy and satisfying and provides vitamin E, with nearly 2 milligrams per medium pepper.

10. Avocado

In case you need another reason to love avocado toast, the green fruit is a source of vitamin E — one avocado contains about 4 milligrams of the nutrient. You also can’t go wrong with guacamole with pita chips, celery, or carrot sticks, Salazar says.

11. Atlantic salmon

With minimal effort and ingredients, you can transform salmon — which provides 3 milligrams of vitamin E per 3-ounce serving — into a mouthwatering meal. Try broiling the fish with a marinade of maple syrup, sriracha, and lime juice, as recommended by Carli, and serve it with pasta or brown rice and your favorite veggie.

How to Cook Fish for Beginners

12. Pine nuts

pine nuts in salad

A staple ingredient in pesto, pine nuts contain nearly 3 milligrams of vitamin E per 1-ounce serving. Salazar says they’re perfect for elevating savory dishes, such as sautéd green beans. They also make a yummy addition to salads. Arugula with parmesan and pine nuts is a classic combo for a reason — it’s really delicious.

13. Beet greens

The next time you buy beets, you’ll want to hold on to those greens, which contain 0.5 milligrams of vitamin E per cup. Use beet greens just as you would any other leafy vegetable; toss them in salads, sauté them with olive oil as a side dish, or bake them to enjoy as green “chips,” says Elick.

14. Wheat germ oil

One tablespoon of wheat germ oil contains a whopping 20 milligrams of vitamin E — more than a day’s worth. However, heat may reduce it’s nutritional content, so you’ll want to use it cold or in uncooked dishes. For example, add it to your next homemade salad dressing or drizzle it on pasta after it’s cooled down a bit. Elick also suggests adding wheat germ oil to your favorite smoothie, where it will add an earthy and nutty flavor.

15. Mango

Equal parts juicy and sweet, mango is another food rich in vitamin E. The tropical fruit offers about 3 milligrams per fruit, according to data from the USDA. “Slice the mango, freeze it, and enjoy it as a healthy sweet on a hot day,” suggests Elick. Or if you love the combo of sweet and savory, “make a mango, avocado, and chicken salad with lemon juice, cucumber, and green onion,” Elick says.

The Bottom Line

As a potent antioxidant, vitamin E is an essential nutrient that’s needed for optimal health. It helps protect cells from oxidative damage, reduces inflammation, and supports immune function. 

The vitamin is found in a wide range of foods, including hazelnut oil, avocado, spinach, salmon, and pumpkin puree, making it easy to incorporate into your diet as part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle.

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here