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13 Foods that Fight Allergies

There are many naturally-occurring plant compounds called phytonutrients that assist with allergies.  The main ones include:  anthocyanin, curcumin, hesperetin, and quercetin.  Don’t worry about remembering their names.  I’ve listed the food sources of each below.  Of course, if you have a food allergy or sensitivity to one of the sources indicated, avoid that food.

Eat Foods Rich in Anthocyanins

The phytonutrient group known as anthocyanins give foods their purplish-red colour.  They have natural anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce the nasal, sinus, and other inflammation linked to allergic reactions. Anthocyanins are found in most dark red and purple-colored foods.  Some food sources include:  beets, berries, cherries, and dark purple and red grapes. You can also add beet powder to iced tea, smoothies, soups, or other recipes to reap the benefits of their anthocyanins.  Tart cherry powder is also good in iced teas and smoothies.

Eat Curries to Benefit from Anti-Inflammatory Curcumin

Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a yellow-coloured spice commonly found in Indian curries.  It contains the active ingredient curcumin, which is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory substance.  Research has shown that ingesting 1200 mg of cucumin daily can have the same effect as anti-inflammatory drugs.  You’d need to supplement to obtain that dose; however, you can also add fresh or dried turmeric to many foods:  soups, curries, stews, salad dressings, etc.  Be sure to avoid dairy-based curries or you’ll be undermining many of the anti-inflammatory benefits of turmeric since dairy products are mucous-forming.  There are several excellent quality curcumin products on the market.  I tend to like Advanced Orthomolecular Research (AOR) and Life Extension. Quercetin to Quell Allergy Symptoms

Quercetin is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-histamine phytonutrient.  Research shows that eating a quercetin-rich diet lowers LDL (harmful) cholesterol, blood pressure, and risk of heart disease, as well as the risk of prostate, colon, ovarian, breast, gastric, prostate, and cervical cancers. These are great beneficial side-effects but we’re interested in its ability to help allergy symptoms and to improve lung function.  Apples and onions are excellent sources of quercetin.  Some studies show that people who eat a lot of apples have improved lung function and reduced risk of lung conditions. Other good sources include:  berries, cabbage, cauliflower, nuts (not peanuts), and black, green, or white tea.  Because berries and tea are often heavily-sprayed with pesticides, be sure to choose organic as often as possible.  You can also use matcha green tea powder which can be added to smoothies or made into hot or iced tea.

Depending on how severe your allergies are, it may be beneficial to take quercetin in a supplement form to assist with the histamine-induced sinus congestion, runny eyes or nose, or other allergy symptoms.  The food sources of this nutrient are helpful but when you’re experiencing full-blown allergies, you will probably need higher doses of this anti-histamine-type nutrient to combat uncomfortable symptoms.  Life Extension makes a high potency formula derived from a blend of food sources, which should make it more bioavailable.  Most people find relief from taking 250 to 500 milligrams of quercetin twice daily.

Hesperetin/Hesperidin for Hay Fever

Hesperetin and hesperidin are almost identical except that the latter is bound to a sugar molecule. Research shows that these potent phytonutrients have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic, and cholesterol-lowering actions, and also protect blood vessels against damage.  These are just some of the therapeutic side-effects of hesperidin.  Hesperidin is also beneficial for allergies and hay fever because of its antihistamine properties. Green vegetables are a source of hesperidin / hesperetin.  You can also find them in their highest concentration in citrus fruits like lemons and oranges, especially the white part, or pith.  Of course, avoid citrus fruits if you suspect that you are sensitive to them.  Douglas Labs makes an excellent hesperidin supplement as well.

Butterbur--While it is not specifically a food, the herb butterbur has also been found in multiple studies to dramatically reduce allergy symptoms.  I particularly like Life Extension’s high potency butterbur formula.

For more than 60 all-natural, drug-free ways to beat allergies, be sure to check out my e-book Allergy-Proof:  Over 60 All-Natural Drug-Free Ways to Beat Allergies.

Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM is the international best-selling author of the books The Probiotic Promise, 60 Seconds to Slim, and Weekend Wonder Detox, a registered nutritionist, and a board-certified doctor of natural medicine.  Subscribe to my free e-magazine World’s Healthiest News to receive monthly health news, tips, recipes and more.  Follow my blog on my sites and, and Twitter @mschoffrocook and Facebook.  Copyright Michelle Schoffro Cook, PhD, DNM.  


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