Foods to Avoid for Allergic Rhinitis

Whether it's labeled as hay fever, seasonal allergies or allergic rhinitis, the symptoms are miserable and include a runny nose, eyes and dry cough. Certain foods can trigger or worsen these allergies, but results vary from person to person. Avoiding some foods and altering the preparation methods of others may stop that constant sniffle.

A woman suffers from seasonal allergies. (Image: Milan Markovic/iStock/Getty Images)

Food Surface Proteins

Certain proteins on the surface of fresh foods can stimulate an allergic response in 25 percent of those suffering allergic rhinitis. Signified by an itching of the lips, mouth or throat, this allergic reaction to the food surface proteins, or pollen, is usually short-lived and not the same as a true food allergy.


Certain fruits will instigate the food pollen allergy in allergic rhinitis sufferers. The allergenic response cannot differentiate between a fresh apple and birch pollen in the mouth. Those allergic to ragweed should avoid bananas, melons and zucchini, as these plants harbor food pollens molecularly similar to ragweed. This response is usually mitigated by avoiding these raw fruits during allergic rhinitis season.


Certain vegetables will initiate an oral allergy with rhinitis, including corn and celery. Celery contains proteins that mimic grass pollen, which is a potent stimulant for allergies. Remove the peels from vegetables and cooking them; the allergenic proteins of the vegetable are killed during the cooking process. Any process that changes the vegetable from its initial state may kill the allergens, including pickling.


Some artificial food additives may exacerbate allergic rhinitis. Foods additives range from preservatives, to flavorings and artificial colorings. The biggest culprits include FD&C yellow dye number 5, monosodium glutamate and benzaldehyde.

Herbs, Nuts and Seeds

Ragweed, a common allergen known to allergic rhinitis sufferers, exists in the same plant family as chamomile and echinacea. These two herbs are found in teas, immune system support and herbal supplements. Almonds, hazelnuts and sunflower seeds may trigger an allergic response as well.

Cold Food and Beverages

People with allergic rhinitis may also be diagnosed with asthma, or generate asthma-like symptoms during an attack. Extremely cold foods and beverages cause a spasm in the large breathing tube called a bronchospasm. Ice cream, milkshakes, ice slushies and even iced drinks may stimulate a bronchospasm, leading to a coughing fit.

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