April 18, 2022

Science says you could possibly relieve those itchy eyes and the runny nose by eating foods (and avoiding others). Researchers know why pollen makes you so itchy, and which foods act as natural remedies for seasonal allergies. Plus, which foods make allergies worse. (Achoo! Excuse me.) Here’s what to eat to help relieve seasonal allergies.


10 Best Foods to Eat to Help Relieve Seasonal Allergies

  • Apples
  • Blueberries
  • Brazil nuts
  • Broccoli
  • Dill
  • Green tea
  • Onions
  • Parsley
  • Turmeric
  • Watercress




What Causes Seasonal Allergies?

That runny nose, watery and itchy eyes that ails you during the spring, summer, and fall, is thanks to your body’s immune system reacting sensitively to a rather familiar substance, such as tree or grass pollen. After a few exposures, your body senses the pollen as an allergen, and a massive secretion of allergy-related messengers occurs in your cells. One such messenger is histamine.


Histamine is a perfectly normal thing! Your body’s mast cells produce histamine as part of your natural immune response – it’s part of the inflammation process, and causes our capillaries (small blood vessels) to dilate, helping key factors in your immune system to access a part of the body that needs help.


However, in some situations, there is too much histamine floating around your bloodstream. You feel it when your histamine balance is off. It might be itchy or red eyes, postnasal drip, or less commonly discussed symptoms of seasonal allergies, such as headache, sneezing, congestion of the nose, bronchoconstriction, or diarrhea. When your histamine levels get too high, many parts of your body can be affected.


6 Foods to Eat to Relieve Seasonal Allergies

Certain foods contain histamine adding to the already high levels of histamine in your bloodstream. Luckily, there are also foods that can help make your seasonal allergy symptoms better, including:

  • Apples
  • Brazil nuts
  • Green tea leaves
  • Parsley
  • Turmeric
  • Watercress


Apple: An apple a day may keep that runny nose away, suggests results from a randomized, double-blind study in which apple peel nutrients were effective at alleviating persistent allergic rhinitis. The nutrient that’s helpful is quercetin, which is also found in onions, broccoli, berries, dill, and green tea leaves.


Brazil nuts: One of the richest plant-based sources of selenium, Brazil nuts are a good food to eat to help relieve seasonal allergies, according to laboratory studies that found selenium helps reduce the amount of histamine in mast cells.


Green tea leaves: According to researchers, a major compound in green tea, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), targets histamine-producing cells, greatly altering their behaviour to help you feel better. How does it do this? EGCG can prevent an enzyme that makes histamine, called histidine decarboxylase, according to researchersQuercetin in green tea is a flavonoid, a naturally occurring plant compound found in good amounts in tea leaves, apples, onions, and shallots, as well as in lesser amounts in broccoli, grapes, berries, and dill. Studies show green tea that isn’t fermented has a higher content of quercetin.


Parsley: Don’t leave that green garnish on your plate - parsley might be one of the best things to eat to relieve seasonal allergies. Parsley prevents histamine from being released from mast cells in your body. Less histamine being released by your mast cells means your closer to that point of histamine balance where your allergy symptoms lessen, or better yet, get better. Sprinkle parsley on your roasted vegetables, or make a sauce with it, like chimichurri or, pesto. Parsley works for breakfast: it is delicious in a frittata, or a smoothie with green apple, green tea, and pear.


Turmeric:  contains curcumin, a well-known anti-inflammatory, which is able to help reduce mast cell activation.


Watercress: Watercress may not be the most commonly consumed leafy green, but when it’s fresh in the spring, it’s worth adding to your menu, according to researchers: in a study, watercress inhibited 60% of all histamines released from mast cells.


A Natural Anti-histamine: Quercetin 

Best known for its antioxidant abilities, quercetin has some epic abilities to crush pesky free radicals that wreak havoc on the body. But, the reason you want more quercetin in your diet is it can help relieve seasonal allergies. Quercetin can inhibit histamine release, the chemical that’s telling your nose to drip. Perhaps what makes quercetin among the best nutrients for allergy sufferers to eat more of, is its additional anti-inflammatory and immune-modulating abilities. In geeky terms, quercetin helps to decrease cytokines (messengers that promote inflammation) and reduces the IgE antibody formation that happens in allergic reactions.


4 Helpful Foods for Allergy Season that Contain Quercetin

  • Apples
  • Onions
  • Parsley
  • Sage



What Foods to Avoid if You Have Seasonal Allergies

Certain foods actually contain histamine.  Plant-based foods with significant histamine include eggplant, spinach, and tomato, according to research.  If you are looking for natural ways to relieve seasonal allergies then consider skipping out on these foods for a few days.

Chickpeas, vinegar, fish, papaya, strawberries, pineapple, nuts, chocolate, smoked meats, crustaceans, pork, mature cheeses, foods with preservatives, and peanuts are found on some lists of high-histamine foods. In addition, you may want to consider avoiding lemons or other citrus fruits – researchers note a possible link between people with seasonal allergies to some pollens, may also have some form of reaction to citrus fruits.

As for donuts, sugary foods, along with caffeine and alcohol, are inflammatory foods which means they put stress on your immune system that is already working on overdrive. Give your immune system a break and skip these pro-inflammatory foods while your seasonal allergies are bothering you. 


10 Worst Foods to Eat if You Have Seasonal Allergies

Got allergy symptoms? Here’s what you want to avoid eating, to help make you feel better:

  • Eggplant
  • Tomato
  • Spinach
  • Chickpeas
  • Smoked meats
  • Mature cheeses
  • Peanuts
  • Vinegar
  • Lemons
  • Donuts


Best Wishes for a Happy Allergy Season!

-  Allison



The Research: 

Histamine and histamine intolerance. Am J Clin Nutr 2007 May; 85(5):1185-1196.


Targeting of histamine producing cells by EGCG: a green dart against inflammation? J Physiol Biochem 2010 Sep; 66(3): 265-70.


Quercetin and its anti-allergic immune response. Molecules 2016 May; 21(5): 623.


Determination of flavonol glycosides in green tea, oolong tea and black tea by UHPLC compared to HPLC. Food Chem 2015 Sep 15;183:30-5.


Curcumin inhibits protease-activated receptor-2 and -4-mediated mast cell activation. Clin Chim Acta. 2003;338(1-2):135-141.


Constituents in watercress: inhibitors of histamine release from RBL-2H3 cells induced by antigen stimulation. Biol Pharm Bull. 1999;22(12):1319-1326.


Biogenic amines in plant-origin foods: are they frequently underestimated in low-histamine diets? Foods 2018 Dec; 7(12): 205.


Citrus allergy from pollen to clinical symptoms. PLoS One 2013; 8(1): e53680.


Influence of selenium on mast cell mediator release. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2013;154(2):299-303.


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