When pollen is flying through the air on a summer breeze, foods that reduce allergy symptoms can be a lifesaver. I immediately head to my kitchen to make my Apple Barley Salad. Eating specific compounds—such as the FoodTrients omega-3 fatty acids, curcumin, gingerol, oleuropein, and quercitin, as well as probiotics—go a long way toward reducing the swelling of nasal passages and the production of antihistamines.
The old adage about an apple a day is really true for allergy sufferers. Apples contain quercitin, which supports the immune system, reduces inflammation, and may reduce allergic sensitivity. Quercitin is found not only in apples (especially their skins), but also in chia seeds, onions, broccoli, citrus, and kale.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in large, deep-water fish, whole grains, and nuts. You can also take omega-3 supplements daily to help fight inflammation. Curcumin is an ingredient of the spice turmeric. I have a few recipes using turmeric if you need some ideas for how to use this spice most commonly found in curry powders.
Gingerol is an anti-inflammatory found in ginger. I love adding fresh, grated (peeled) ginger to stir-fries and chicken soup. Candied ginger is delicious when steeped in hot tea. Oleuropein (aka oleic acid), another anti-inflammatory, is found in olives and olive oil. Make a habit of sautéing vegetables in olive oil, adding it to soups, and drizzling it over salads to get your daily dose. Skin inflammation from bug bites or sunburns can be treated topically with olive oil or flaxseed oil. Aloe vera works wonders to fight skin redness and inflammation, too.
Probiotics fight allergies by providing bacteria helpful to the digestive tract. The digestive tract is a big part of our immune system. Probiotics occur naturally in yogurt and other fermented, unpasteurized foods, such as homemade pickles, sauerkraut, and kimchi. You can also get them from kombucha drinks: naturally carbonated beverages with a zingy, somewhat sour flavor. Kombucha beverages might take some getting used to, but they can aid digestion and fight allergic inflammation.
If you suffer from any food allergies or sensitivities, those can intensify your seasonal allergy symptoms. If you’re not sure, it’s best to avoid the most common food triggers (dairy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, seafood, wheat, spinach, and berries) as well as artificial food colorings and plants in the nightshade family (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, tomatillos, chili peppers, bell peppers, tobacco, and wolfberries), at least until the pollen counts subside.
My Pear and Apple Tart recipe not only has quercitin from the apples but also provides omega-3s from the pecans and anti-inflammatory power from cinnamon. A daily serving of yogurt should help, too (unless you’re allergic to milk). Try making a dish of whole-wheat pasta with onions, garlic, and broccoli sautéed in olive oil for allergic relief (unless you suffer from celiac disease, in which case you should use gluten-free pasta). My Egg Salad with Turmeric and my Chicken Curry Salad recipes (both in my new cookbook, The AGE BEAUTIFULLY Cookbook) supply the benefits of curcumin. Both go a long way toward reducing allergic inflammation.
My Apple Barley Salad (from my AGE GRACEfully Cookbook) is a tasty way to attack allergies. Barley is a great source of fiber, B vitamins, and selenium. I serve it with apples in this bright, crunchy salad. For the corn kernels, I prefer fresh-roasted corn, but you can use thawed frozen corn kernels, too. The apples can be any variety or color that you like, or even a combination. Raisins provide antioxidants and resveratrol, the same compound found in red wine. My Honey-Lime Dressing increases the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immunity-boosting components of this recipe. What a tasty way to fight allergy symptoms!
Apple Barley Salad
1 cup cooked barley
½ cup corn kernels
2 2/3 cup chopped apples, peels on
2 Tbs. chopped scallions
½ cup shredded carrot
½ cup raisins
Sea salt and ground pepper to taste
1 recipe Honey-Lime Dressing, garlic omitted
YIELDS about 1/4 cup
1 1/2 Tbs. lime juice (about 1 lime)
1 1/2 Tbs. honey
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1 minced garlic clove
1/2 tsp. chili powder
Sea salt to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a container with a tight-fitting lid and shake until well blended.