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Best Foods to Counter the Effects of Air Pollution

Air pollution is one of the major concerns in today’s world. It is the ninth leading cause of death in the world. Outdoor air pollution results in various harmful effects like heart disease, lung cancer, respiratory infection, and emphysema which are responsible for millions of deaths worldwide. To reduce the effects of air pollution, we can take several steps. One of those is the type of foods that we consume. In the article, we will be reading about some of the best foods to counter the effects of air pollution.

Best Foods To Counter The Effects Of Air Pollution

Air pollution is linked with cardiovascular and respiratory mortality, especially in the urban areas with high concentrations of primary pollutants.(1) Following are some of the best foods that can counter the effects of air pollution.

Foods Rich In Vitamin C:

Vitamin C is one of the most potent antioxidants and can protect our body from different ailments and inflammation, which also include the ill health effects of air pollution. This vitamin can neutralize the effects of pollutants. It is known that antioxidants might be essential in protecting the airways against the detrimental effects of air pollution.(2)

Lemon: Lemon is packed with vitamin C, which is essential in protecting cells from damage. This supports our immune system and holds flavonoids responsible for various health benefits along with anti-inflammatory properties to fight against several air pollution-borne diseases. Drinking lemon water at least twice a day can be helpful in this.

Other Citrus Fruits and Vegetables: Other fruits like oranges, papaya, guava, and amla; and vegetables like drumsticks, tomatoes, potatoes, coriander leaves, parsley, turnip, and cabbage are also good sources of Vitamin C and can help fight infections and inflammation caused by poor air quality or air pollution.

Vitamin E Rich Foods:

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that works great in fighting against injury to human tissues. Using foods rich in Vitamin E in daily diet can counter the effects of air pollution. Some of the Vitamin E-rich foods are listed below.

  • Olive Oil: Olive oil is essential for improving lung function and can reduce inflammation. This is because of the Vitamin E content and presence of fatty acids in olive oil. To attain optimum benefits, add a few drops of olive oil to your salads.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Nuts like almonds and sunflower seeds are also great sources of vitamin E. Taking one ounce a day is adequate because they are also packed with fats.
  • Spices And Herbs: Spices and herbs like paprika, cloves, chili powder, basil, oregano, and parley, contain an adequate amount of Vitamin E and thus should be added to the daily cooking to counter the effect of air pollution.

Beta-Carotene Rich Foods:

Beta-carotene is also essential to counter the effects of air pollution. So, taking foods rich in beta-carotene should be beneficial. They help in enhancing the function of our immune system and are also known for their strong antioxidant properties. Check out some foods rich in this nutrient.

  • Spinach: Beta carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and chlorophyll are found in spinach that is responsible to enhance the immune system. Moreover, spinach is also a great source of anti-oxidant and also have anti-mutagenic properties. The rich content of magnesium found in this leafy green vegetable provides immunity that is essential to fight against smog. They remove the strain caused on the lungs due to smog and also support the articulation of air in the lungs.
  • Broccoli: Broccoli is also loaded with beta-carotene and antioxidants which are essential to counter the effects of air pollution. So, many nutritionists and health experts suggest adding this vegetable to our regular diet. Moreover, the rich amount of Vitamin C present in broccoli is also essential for enhancing immunity levels and fighting the adverse effects of pollutants.

Omega-3 Fat Rich Foods

Omega-3 fats protect us against the hazardous effects of air pollution. Let us know about the foods rich in omega-3 fats which can counter the effects of air pollution.

  • Fish: One of the excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids is fish. Various studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids can fight inflammation in the brain and also safeguard the body from several heart diseases like heart attack, heart failure, and arrhythmia. Apart from this, the omega-3 present in fish can also protect our brain from lead, mercury, and other neurotoxins present in the air as pollutants.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Specific nuts like walnuts and seeds like flaxseeds are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids and phytoestrogens, which are known for protecting the heart and blood vessels from smog, and help in cutting down the oxidative stress in the body. Symptoms of asthma and other lung allergies can be reduced by phytoestrogens.

Iron-Rich Foods:

  • Jaggery: A rich source of iron, jaggery can help in improving the level of hemoglobin in the blood, and thus increase the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. If you are suffering from breathing-related problems occurring due to air pollution, you can add jaggery to your daily diet.

Herbs and Spices:

Several herbs and spices are essential to counter the effects of air pollution. Have a read below to know more about some of them.

  • Turmeric: Turmeric is a therapeutic herb and has been in use since the ancient period. The active agent, curcumin found in turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties and helps in protecting the lungs from the adverse effects of air pollutants. Apart from these, the significant antioxidants present in turmeric can also protect the body from oxidative stress, which occurs when exposed to air pollution.
  • Ginger: Gingerol and certain other compounds present in ginger can help in reducing inflammation and ultimately reduce cough. It can also remove toxins from the body since it acts as a decongestant.
  • Haritaki: This is a herb, which when taken along with jaggery before bedtime and in the morning can greatly help in relieving phlegm.
  • Green Tea: Green tea or Camella sinensis is a herb packed with antioxidants and is used in treating several health issues, especially the symptoms of allergies that are caused because of air pollution. The tea can protect the lungs from irritation that usually occurs when we breathe in polluted air.

Take Away:

Air pollution is no doubt a major health concern worldwide. However, certain foods can counter the effects of air pollution when added to our daily diet. Hope you might have got a clear idea about some of these best foods. So, let’s stay strong and fight against the adverse effects of pollutants.


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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 27, 2022

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