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Apparently, climate change and the resulting warmer temperatures and increasing carbon dioxide are extending our fall allergy season.  We can almost hear you groaning, and we’re right there with you.  Normally, the fall allergy season ends with September, but experts are predicting it to last through October this year.  So, what can you do besides run out for more Claritin?  You might just be able to hit your local farmer’s market!

Ever heard of the “Crucifer family”?  It’s not as scary as it sounds.  Some members of the crucifer family are cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli and bok choy.  The cool thing about this family of veggies is that they’ve been to shown to clear up blocked sinuses.  The veggies contain quercetin, a natural antihistamine; and some of them, broccoli, for instance, also contain a nice amount of vitamin C.  The RDA of vitamin C/day is 500 mg; one cup of raw broccoli will give you 80 mg.  Not bad for a healthy, delicious side, huh?  Every fall and winter, we hear a lot about another crucifer—kale.  Kale can also be an allergy helper because, in addition to its great crucifer qualities, it also contains carotenoids, which are rich in a form of vitamin A that is thought to improve allergy symptoms.  Studies have shown that people with low vitamin A reserves are more likely to have allergies, so it can’t hurt to build those stores up with a nice green dinner (or lunch!).  You can also try some collard greens—they’re loaded with carotenoids as well.  For a bonus of nutrients, use the water you cook the greens in to make soups or even rice, so you don’t lose a drop of nutrients.

You might want to wear a warning label to use these next veggies to fight the stuffies.  Onions and garlic contain lots of that quercetin that we mentioned above, which acts as an antihistamine, as well as an anti-inflammatory agent.  Why is that a good thing?  Anything to reduce the swelling of tissues in your body when your nose is stuffy is a win!  Warn your friends, eat up or run out for some supplements of these two smelly saviors—you’ll reap the benefits.

Fall’s favorite color, orange, might also be your favorite color if you have fall allergies.  Two popular fall flavors, pumpkin and carrot, are also rich in carotenoids, the vitamin that we mentioned before when we talked about kale.  Pumpkin isn’t only used to flavor your coffee, either.  You can make soups with it, pair it with beef for a main dish, or (of course!) bake it in a pie!  Carrots are great just steamed and eaten (and this happens to be a GREAT way to get the most vitamin A and beta-carotene out of them), but you can also eat them raw, dipped in dressing or sliced on a salad.  And for a vitamin C boost, grab some celery!  You can eat it raw or cook it without losing nutrients (bonus!).

Some of these fall favorites, great as they may be, are on the Dirty Dozen list of fruits and veggies that retain the most pesticide residue.  Check the list to find out which ones you should always be buying organic, and then load up your diet, stockpile that vitamin A and power up with vitamin C!  May the force of natural foods be with you this allergy season!