Compounds found in some foods may help alleviate symptoms of seasonal allergies.
It’s that time of the year again when seasonal allergies are going full send. While over-the-counter medications are typical treatment for seasonal allergies, some foods contain natural compounds which may lessen seasonal allergy symptoms.
What exactly are seasonal allergies?
Seasonal allergies, also known as allergic rhinitis or hay fever, come in response to airborne substances (usually pollens) at specific times of the year depending on what a person is allergic to (1). Your body produces histamines in response, and those histamines are what cause your itchy skin, itchy eyes, runny nose and sneezing. Despite being called “hay fever”, there’s no fever associated with seasonal allergies.
Foods to Help Fight Seasonal Allergies
No food or supplement is going to “cure” your seasonal allergies – and notably research is inconsistent – but these may help lessen those pesky, sniffly and itchy symptoms! Besides, what a better excuse to get these nutrient-packed foods onto your table.
Okay okay I didn’t start with the holy grail of health here, but honey sure is delicious. Raw, local honey may help your body build up resistance to the pollen you’re allergic to (2).
Try it this way:
- Drizzle honey on some Greek yogurt topped with berries and granola (my fave is Bear Naked Fit or Kashi).
- Top a slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter, sliced banana and honey.
Apples, onions and shallots all contain contain the flavonoid quercetin which demonstrates anti-allergic properties by blocking histamine release (3). Besides, with only 1 in 10 American eating the recommended amounts of fruits and veggies daily, why not give yourself another reason to eat more plants (4).
Try apples this way:
- Dipped in peanut butter, duh.
- Add apples to your charcuterie board.
- Add diced apples to chicken salad.
- Chopped up with low-fat cottage cheese, cinnamon and honey (double whammy!).
Onions again nod to the plant-compound quercetin and may be the most studied anti-allergic food. Allergies aside, onions are a non-starchy veggie that make a fantastic base to so many dishes. They make my grocery list nearly every week!
Try onions this way:
- In these easy lean beef tacos.
- Red onions are fantastic atop salad (rinse them after chopping first for less “bite) or
- in this healthy butternut squash soup.
- Try onion in these spaghetti squash lasagna boats.
Bada-bing, shallots strike with quercetin (5)! Shallots are part of the onion family and make a great flavor builder in recipes.
Try shallots this way:
- Mince shallots and add to olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper for a nice salad dressing!
- In a healthy pad Thai dish (full disclosure – this recipe is time-consuming but delicious if you don’t have 2 kids 2 and under running around your house!).
Pineapple contains the enzyme bromelain which shows promising anti-allergic effects (6) .
Try pineapple this way:
- Keep it simple with raw pineapple at any meal or snack.
- Grill pineapple chunks for a sweet treat! Dip it in yogurt mixed with honey and lime zest and topped with crushed pistachios if you really want to tantalize your tastebuds!
Salmon is rich in omega-3 fats which are anti-inflammatory. Some research suggests omega-3 fats may lessen the symptoms of allergic rhinitis (7,8). Aside from its fatty-acid profile, salmon is a fantastic source of protein.
Try salmon this way:
- Try this garlic and dill sheet pan salmon with butternut squash and asparagus,
- Lemon butter salmon,
- or this delicious honey-glazed, poppyseed, salmon salad!
Turmeric contains the compound curcumin which may alleviate allergic rhinitis (9). Turmeric is a spice infamous for giving curry its yellow color.
Try it this way:
- Sprinkled on popcorn, or
- Added to morning eggs or a smoothie.
- Turmeric is used heavily in traditional Indian cooking. Try it in this chicken and rice dish. (For a healthier version, use brown rice, low-sodium chicken broth and sub for lean chicken breast pieces.)
Some foods contain natural defenses that may lessen the severity of seasonal allergy symptoms. Aside from their potentially, symptom-alleviating effects, these foods are tasty and (mostly!) nutrient-rich!