This is a three-part series. In Part 1 I covered allergies. In this part, I will highlight four foods associated with cutting your risk of allergy in half and improving your symptoms if you already have allergies. In Part 3 I will discuss asthma.
As I mentioned in the last post, the risk of allergies for some may be cut in half by including four foods in their diet every day. I will not only tell you what they are, but how they make a difference. I hope you haven’t been suffering from rhinoconjunctivitis* as you waited for the answer.
Here are the four foods:
- Dark green leafy vegetables
- Flax seeds
That list may seem daunting to you. It did to me the first time I saw it. Dark green leafy vegetables I understand. The other three I never ate. They can seem strange, but it’s not as tough as it seems. Let’s take them one at a time.
Just an ounce of sea vegetables could lower your risk of seasonal allergies by nearly 50 percent.
If you’re the sort of person who likes to eat seaweed straight, you should have no trouble adding this food. There are a lot of seaweed products, some with flavorings. Check out the Asian sectio
n of your local store.
But if that idea sounds frightening, here are three more:
- Vegan “sushi”. Nearly every seller of sushi includes a vegetable-only version, that includes great vegetables rolled in seaweed (usually mori). If you plan to consume your seaweed this way, try to get sushi made with brown rice instead of white.
- Eden Foods brand of beans. This brand of pre-cooked beans and legumes uses a touch of seaweed (kombu, or kelp) in place of the sodium.** With a single can of Eden Foods brand of beans, you can get your iodine for the day, as well as the other goodness that comes with seaweed.
- Bits crumbled in soup. Minced seaweed is a great replacement for salt when you’re making soups or stews. It’s not as salty and provides other great nutritional benefits. It works on a similar concept to the Eden’s beans.
It does matter what kind of seaweed and how much you consume, however, due to its iodine content. The recommended daily intake is 160 micrograms a day, with the safe upper limit at 1,000 micrograms a day, or no more than 300 micrograms per day for a young child. Two ounces of laver or nori is enough to last an adult a week. And if you spread out that same amount of dulse over a month’s time, you have enough iodine for that whole month. For wakame, it’s two months.1
But eat that much kelp and you get enough iodine for five years. A quarter gram a day of kelp is too much. Since it would be hard to spread that little amount of kelp over five years, go with one of the other sources.
In addition, some forms of seaweed contain arsenic, so you will want to avoid hiziki.2
Dark green leafy vegetables
Adding dark green leafy vegetables to your diet is one of the best things you can do for your health. According to WebMD, the top 10 greens for health are kale, collards, turnip greens, Swiss chard, spinach, mustard greens, broccoli, red and green lettuce, cabbage, and yes, even iceberg lettuce.
This low-calorie class of vegetables is rich in vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as many of the B-vitamins, including folate. Green leafies also offer an abundance of carotenoids-antioxidants that protect cells and have a role in stopping the early stages of cancer.
And if all that isn’t enough, you will also get a lot of fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium and calcium when you eat green leafies. Put them in the four s’s: salads, soups, smoothies and sandwiches.
Flax seeds are another food that is high in fiber and many other nutrients, like green leafy vegetables, but low in carbohydrates. A mere 3 tablespoons of flax seeds contains: 6,338mg of omega-3 (ALA); 8g of fiber; 6g of protein; 31% of your RDA for vitamin B1; 35% for manganese; 30% for magnesium; 19% for phosphorus; 10% for selenium; as well as a lot of vitamin B6, iron, potassium, copper and zinc.
One of the more important things this little seed can do for you is lower your cholesterol. This finding was published in 2012 in the Journal of Nutrition & Metabolism.3
Flax has also been proven helpful in maintaining the health of the digestive tract by reducing inflammation. It has even been beneficial for people suffering from Crohn’s disease or other digestive ailments.
Flax is easy to add to the diet as it contains very little taste of its own. It can be used as an egg replacer or combined into cereals, soups, stews and smoothies. Just make sure you grind your seeds to get the full impact of their health benefits.
Miso is a healthy food from Japan, made from fermented soybeans. It is a thick, paste-like substance found in a few colors including white and red. It’s not meant to be eaten plain, but to be used as a seasoning.
Typically, miso is salty. One teaspoon may contain 200–300 milligrams of sodium. However, recent research has shown that the high sodium does not seem to affect our cardiovascular system like other high-sodium foods.
Miso is great as an extra dash of flavor and nutrition for soups, salad dressings and other savory foods. I cover more uses for miso in the full WholeBlue Eating course. However you eat it, do buy certified organic miso, as for all other soy products.
As for nutrition, one research study noted that a teaspoon of miso a day was associated with about a 41 percent lower prevalence of seasonal allergies.4
In the final installment of this series, we’ll cover asthma as well as foods you can eat to decrease the toll pollution takes on your body.
*Runny nose and itchy eyes
**According to a 2012 correspondence between NutritionFacts.org and Edens Foods, “preliminary results suggest the iodine content of their beans ranges from 36.3 mcg per ½-cup serving (great northern beans) to 71.2 mcg (navy beans),” which Dr. Greger notes is “the Goldilocks sweet spot–a single can could fulfill one’s daily iodine requirement nicely, and it would take around 20 servings a day to hit the upper limit.” — NutritionFacts.org