5 Foods That Can Protect You Against the Harmful Effects Of Air Pollution

If you reside in a toxic, ultra-polluted metro city, read on.

The air pollution levels have been soaring in the National Capital—and elsewhere—amid the cold wave that has encapsulated the northern region. Did you know that 94 out of the 100 most polluted global cities can be found in India, Pakistan, and China? Indeed. 

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), air pollution kills more than ten million people worldwide in a year, far more than Covid-19 ever will (FYI, we double-checked the stats). From minor health ailments to more serious concerns such as emphysema, heart disease, and lung cancer, hold pollution responsible for your maladies!

While air purifiers, filtering face masks, and essential oils might help, they certainly aren't a permanent (or feasible) solution to the grave environmental problem. Instead, turn to the foods you include on your plate. According to Sushmaa Jaiswal, a nutritionist who consults on Practo, foods enriched with essential nutrients can help your body recover from bouts of severe air pollution by cleaning out your system and airways.

Below, she lists a few such must-have foods that you *need* to include in your daily diet to combat the ill effects of pollution.  

Nuts and Seeds

Healthy nuts and seeds, including pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, chia seeds, flaxseed, walnuts, peanuts, and almonds, are a rich source of omega fatty acids and Vitamin E. "Omega fatty acids are crucial for your overall health and can only be obtained from your diet since the body doesn't naturally produce them," she informs. "They reduce the risk of inflammation, while Vitamin E maintains eye and skin health."

How to consume: Spruce up your salads and smoothies by adding healthy nuts and seeds as toppings.  


Herbs such as ginger, turmeric, mint, coriander, and celery, possess powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and help guard the body against the adverse effects of pollution. Plus, by including them in your diet, you can keep common allergies and infections at bay. And, Ayurveda suggests that the consumption of herbs can help repair and heal your body as well. 

How to consume: Drink a concoction composed of a mix of herbs. Herbs can be added to food preparations as well.

Citrus Fruits 

Get your hands on anything that'll shoot your Vita C levels right up. Citrus fruits such as oranges, tangerines, lemons, and Indian gooseberry are high in Vitamin C, offering a generous dose of antioxidants to your body. They help neutralise the free radicals in the body produced by pollutants and boost your overall immunity. Besides, Vitamin C is known to brighten dull skin—and, what more does one want?

How to consume: Eat directly or add to food preparations. 

Green Tea

"Green tea is packed with antioxidants and helps fight allergy symptoms such as nasal congestion, sore throat, and a cough," explains Sushmaa. It also helps prevent oxidative damage in the body and improves ones immunity. Green tea is high in polyphenol, a natural compound that helps fight inflammation in the body. A few cups a day will also aid your metabolism levels, so why not?

How to consume: Drink directly, without the addition of milk or sugar. 

Green Vegetables

Leafy, green veggies, including broccoli, spinach, fenugreek, and kale, contain beta carotene, zeaxanthin, lutein, magnesium, sulforaphane—and a few more jargon terms—that do extremely well for your immune system. Consider adding a dash of turmeric while preparing these vegetables; the curcumin present in turmeric lends anti-inflammatory properties.

How to consume: Blitz your favourite veggies, and drink up! Cook the vegetables and add them to savoury preparations, salads, soups, et cetera.



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