Can you feel it? While you can't quite put your finger on it, there's definitely an energy shift in the air as the veil of winter slowly lifts its gloom to make way for the fresh new season: Spring is coming. For many of us, that's a welcome change, with the prospect of warmer weather, sunshine, greener pastures, fresh produce, and flowers, lots and lots of flowers. It's a beautiful thing. But for the 50 million Americans who suffer from hay fever, spring equates to sneezing, an itchy nose and throat, and watery eyes.
While your first instinct might be to reach for the nasal spray, Keri Glassman, a celebrity nutritionist, registered dietitian, healthy cooking expert, and published author (she's also the founder and president of Nutritious Life and The Nutrition School), says we should all consider "spring-greening" first, and introduce specific new-season produce to boost our immunity and fight inflammation naturally. Ahead, she shares her top foods to beat hay fever, the supplements to take, and the foods you need to add (and toss) from your kitchen this season.
MYDOMAINE: What are some ingredients that can help boost our immunity and prepare for hay fever season?
KERI GLASSMAN: Snack on plums, add blueberries to your morning smoothie, or fill your soups and noodle bowls with buckwheat noodles. These foods are all high in quercetin, a flavonoid that helps reduce your response to inflammation and allergens.
MD: Can you share the supplements we should stock up on in spring?
MD: Are there common pantry items we should always stock in spring? What should we toss?
KG: Have rolled and steel-cut oats, vegan protein powder, nuts (pecans, cashews, brazil nuts), quinoa, farro, seeds, canned or packaged salmon or sardines, jarred roasted peppers and artichokes, and spices stocked. Also, make sure none of your nuts have gone bad (yes, this is possible!), and definitely toss these.
MD: How can we keep our produce fresher for longer?
KG: I don't wash berries until I'm going to eat them. If I think it is about to go bad before I am able to eat it, I freeze some produce to use in smoothies. This works with herbs as well.
MD: What produce should we never put in the fridge?
KG: Keep tomatoes on the counter. Tests have shown that cooling them to fridge temps can cause them to lose both aroma and flavor.
MD: What should we toss from our fridge?
KG: Ditch the high-sugar condiments and packaged processed meats for some major fridge spring-cleaning.
5 Spring Foods to Add to Your Cart
1. Broccoli Rabe
"This green has about two times the amount of zinc as broccoli and more than kale. Why does this mineral matter? Zinc is an overachiever when it comes to boosting your immune system."
2. Green Peas
"We all know that reducing our intake of meat can be good for our overall health, but you may not know that adding in legumes such as peas may make you fuller and more apt to lose weight."
"Radishes can satisfy the need to crunch (and in a low-cal manner), and one study showed that radish extract was positively associated with nitric oxide production (contributes to oxygen transport) and increased antioxidant levels, meaning it serves as an anti-inflammatory food."
"The peak season for asparagus runs from April through May, making these spears one of the top items you should pick up on your next market run. Researchers have found that asparagus contains inulin, a prebiotic that provides health benefits for our digestive tract, promoting better nutrient absorption, lower risk of allergy, and lower risk of colon cancer."
"While we often associate cherries with summertime, their peak season actually starts in April. Researchers have found that anthocyanins, found in dark cherries that are more tart, help reduce inflammation and cholesterol."
What new produce are you looking forward to eating this season? How do you "spring-green" your kitchen?