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Foods That Reduce Mucus

author image August McLaughlin
August McLaughlin is a certified nutritionist and health writer with more than nine years of professional experience. Her work has been featured in various magazines such as "Healthy Aging," "CitySmart," "IAmThatGirl" and "ULM." She holds specializations in eating disorders, healthy weight management and sports nutrition. She is currently completing her second cookbook and Weight Limit—a series of body image/nutrition-related PSAs.
Foods That Reduce Mucus
Fruits, vegetables, warm fluids and olive oil might help minimize mucus production.

Mucus is a thick, slippery substance secreted by glands and cells in your body. While mucus is naturally present in your body and helps protect your respiratory system, excessive mucus production can cause throat discomfort, nasal congestion and, in severe cases, breathing difficulty. Illnesses characterized by increased mucus production include respiratory infections, such as the common cold and bronchitis, and cystic fibrosis. In addition to medical treatment and rest, certain foods might help minimize your symptoms.

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Fruits and Vegetables

Watercress Photo Credit: oksix/iStock/Getty Images

Fruits and vegetables are top sources of antioxidants -- nutrients that promote your body's ability to fight off infections and disease. In addition to supplying nutrients, garlic, watercress, celery, pickles, onions, lemons and parsley reduce mucus production, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, or UMMC. Avoid cabbage, potatoes and bananas, which might accelerate mucus production. Fruits and vegetables particularly rich in antioxidants include berries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, leafy greens, broccoli, brussels sprouts, bell peppers and winter squash.

Olive Oil

Two olives in a bowl of olive oil
Two olives in a bowl of olive oil Photo Credit: barol16/iStock/Getty Images

Olive oil is a valuable source of unsaturated, heart-healthy fat. According to a report published in "Anti-Inflammatory and Anti-Allergy Agents in Medicinal Chemistry" in June 2010, the substance oleocanthal in olive oil produces effects similar to the anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen, which is often used to reduce bronchitis symptoms. If you're prone to mucus, try swapping saturated fat sources in your diet, such as butter and margarine, out for olive oil. Because fats promote nutrient absorption, consume olive oil with nutritious foods, such as leafy green salads and whole grains, for added benefits.

Warm Fluids

Bowl of chicken noodle soup
Bowl of chicken noodle soup Photo Credit: HandmadePictures/iStock/Getty Images

Warm fluids provide soothing dietary options. Because they promote hydration, sipping fluids throughout the day might help your body flush toxins out through urine, allowing you to heal faster. Chicken soup, broth and tea can also reduce throat pain and loosen mucus. Choose noncaffeinated fluids over coffee and soft drinks, which are less hydrating and might disrupt your ability to rest. Avoid thick, creamy soups and beverages, which might thicken mucus.

Fatty Fish

Smoke sardines on plate with lemon
Smoke sardines on plate with lemon Photo Credit: Viktorija Kuprijanova/iStock/Getty Images

Fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, herring, lake trout, sardines and flounder, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids -- healthy fats that might help reduce inflammation. Omega-3 fats also boost immunity. For optimum benefits, replace protein sources that might worsen inflammation and mucus production, such as red meat, whole milk and high-fat cheese, with baked, grilled or broiled fatty fish.

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