Seasonal allergies such as hay fever develop when the immune system overreacts to allergens, like grass or weed pollen, which can result in congestion, sneezing and itching. The standard treatment usually involves medicines such as antihistamines, but there are lifestyle changes you can make that may also ease symptoms.


Certain foods contain enzymes, pigments or natural properties that can help relieve the symptoms of allergies and make your summer more enjoyable – read on for the details, plus lots of recipe ideas to help you incorporate these foods into your summer meals.

For more like this, find out our natural hay fever remedies. Next check out our health spotlight on antioxidants and health expert guide to Vitamin C.

1. Pineapple

Pineapple contains an enzyme called bromelain, which can soothe the irritation and inflammation associated with hay fever.

Pineapple is a great snack on it's own, but for something different try it in our chicken and pineapple salad recipe, ready in just 15 minutes. To get your pineapple in early, try making this vibrant pineapple smoothie for breakfast.

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Sweet and Sour Chicken Salad Recipe with Pineapple

2. Kale

Kale is rich in carotenoids, pigments which fight inflammation and inhibit the release of histamine – the cause of allergy symptoms like itchy eyes and a runny nose. Eating kale together with a source of fat, such as olive oil or avocado, increases the absorption of these carotenoids.

Try our kale and parmesan gnocchi bake to transform shop-bought gnocchi, or whip up a homemade pesto with this pistachio and kale pasta recipe.

Green pasta on a green dish topped with burrata

3. Red onion

Red onions provide a high concentration of the flavonoid quercetin – a powerful natural antihistamine. Quercetin is what gives red onions their deep red colour, but it also helps to calm down the cells that react to allergens in the air such as pollen and dust mites. Quercetin can also be found in apples, berries and broccoli.

Make these goat's cheese and red onion tarts for an elegant lunch if you're entertaining, or try this comforting toad-in-the-hole with roast red onions.


4. Salmon

Oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines contain omega-3 fats, which can help to reduce inflammation in the body and ease common allergy symptoms such as puffy eyes and an itchy throat. Other great sources of omega-3 fats include walnuts, hemp seeds and even algae. Studies suggest that histamine levels can increase once a fish has been caught, so it’s important to buy the freshest fish possible and either use it or freeze it straight away.

Use salmon in a vibrant salmon traybake or pack in 10 different plant foods in our vibrant sumac salmon with spring fattoush.

Two bowls of fattoush topped with salmon fillets

5. Kefir

When thinking about allergies, supporting your body’s immune system is key in helping to minimise symptoms. Kefir is a probiotic-rich drink that can support a strong immune system by maintaining the balance of the beneficial bacteria that live in your gut.

Kefir is easy to add to smoothies – try our kefir, banana and berry smoothie recipe – but it's a versatile ingredient to have in the fridge. Use it in a tangy dressing for this cucumber kefir and falafel salad or bake a spring onion and turmeric kefir soda bread.

Kefir, banana, almond and frozen berry smoothie

6. Local honey

Local unprocessed honey contains small amounts of pollen from the surrounding area. There’s a belief that ingesting little quantities of local pollen during off-season months might prime the immune system to cope better during high-pollen months. There’s no scientific evidence to support this theory, but plenty of anecdotal reports suggesting its effectiveness. If you’re a honey lover, there’s no harm in switching to a local product and seeing how you feel. However, it’s worth noting that most honey will contain pollen from flowers, so if your hay fever is triggered by grass or weed pollen, this may not work for you.

We've got plenty of honey recipes to try – make these fluffy ricotta pancakes topped with a whipped honey butter for a special weekend brunch.

A stack of ricotta pancakes, topped with whipped honey butter

7. Garlic

Garlic is incredibly nutritious, antioxidant-rich and acts as a prebiotic. Not only does it soothe inflammation, it’s been shown to inhibit histamine release from mast cells, which may reduce the severity of your allergy symptoms.

It's an easy staple to add to plenty of recipes. Make it the star of the show in this cheesy tear-and-share garlic bread or our juicy garlic and cumin butter prawns.


8. Ginger

With its natural anti-inflammatory properties, ginger is another ingredient that inhibits the release of histamine from certain cells.

It's great for drinks – blend into fiery ginger shots to kickstart your day or make a homemade ginger cordial. It's easy to incorporate into savoury dishes too: make our miso ginger dressing to drizzle over salads, or combine with another of our superstar ingredients in this sticky ginger salmon recipe.

4 shot glasses of a ginger liquid

9. Turmeric

Turmeric is well known for its vibrant colour and savoury flavour, while its powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties make it a great addition to any diet. A study found that curcumin – the active ingredient in turmeric – inhibited activation of the cells which release histamine in the body. Additionally, a pilot study showed that patients with hay fever saw reductions in symptoms after just two months of turmeric supplementation. While further research is needed, it can’t hurt to add a little more of this vibrant spice to your diet during pollen season.

Make a homemade turmeric latte, or try adding it to your midweek meals. This turmeric-fried veggie rice recipe is an easy, healthy option, while this simple turmeric chicken is a great way to liven up chicken breasts.

Vegetable Fried Rice Recipe with Turmeric

10. Berries

Berries, especially dark varieties such as blackberries and blueberries, are rich in antioxidants and also contain high amounts of vitamin C, which assists with the synthesis of DAO – an enzyme that helps keep the histamine in our bodies at a tolerable level. Many varieties, including blueberries, cranberries and raspberries, also contain the natural antihistamine quercetin – which helps to keep allergy symptoms at bay.


Blitz up a blueberry smoothie for breakfast, serve roasted plums and balsamic blueberries with a dollop of Greek yogurt, or make a classic summer pudding filled with a selection of berries.

A whole summer pudding with one slice taken out of it


Tracey RayeRegistered Nutritionist

Tracey Raye is the Health Editor for Olive and BBC Good Food. She oversees all health, nutrition and fitness related content across the brands, including the bi-annual Healthy Diet Plan, monthly Health Edit newsletter and health column in the magazine.

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