9 foods that can help you decongest stuffy nose during flu season  


If you have the common cold or flu, the uncomfortable, stuffed-up feeling you are experiencing is called nasal congestion, also known as a stuffy nose. When you’re all stuffed up, the simple act of breathing can be difficult.

To ease the effect of the condition, there are plenty of foods for a stuffy nose that may help relieve sinus congestion, as well as some excellent food (and beverage) sources to help you quickly recover.

Below, we share nine foods that can help you decongest a stuffy nose during flu season.

1. Pineapple: As one of the best natural sources of bromelain and vitamin C, pineapple (and pineapple juice!) can be an excellent grab when your sinus congestion just won’t quit. Frozen, fresh, and canned pineapple will all provide these benefits, but just be sure to watch out for added sugar in frozen and canned versions, as refined cane sugar can make inflammation worse.

2. Garlic: While some TikTokers suggest stuffing garlic cloves up your nose to relieve congestion (we’re not kidding), just eating it will suffice. This is because garlic is a powerful anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral agent, helping to target the root cause of your stuffy nose.

3. Chicken soup: Few things are as comforting as a warm bowl of chicken soup when you’re feeling under the weather. But beyond the nostalgia, chicken soup is full of water and the amino acid cysteine while also releasing steam—all of which may relieve stuffy nose symptoms. One study found chicken soup to help clear nasal mucus faster than hot water.

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4. Honey: Beyond being a delicious natural sweetener, honey has been a popular natural remedy for thousands of years thanks to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antibacterial properties. Plus, it contains salicylic acid, which bodes well when you’re in the fog of nasal congestion. A 2021 review even found honey to be an effective treatment for upper respiratory infections, which often result in a stuffy nose.

5. Seafood: A variety of seafood options can also be helpful when combating sinus issues. This is because options like oysters and blue crab are some of the best dietary sources of zinc available, while sardines, anchovies, salmon, mackerel, trout, and tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

6. Ginger: “Ginger steeped in hot water can help to clear sinuses and soothe a sore throat,” explains Davis. This is thanks to the plant compounds it contains that help reduce inflammation. Plus, ginger is high in antihistamines, which can be highly beneficial if your stuffy nose is related to allergies. A small 2020 randomized control trial found ginger extract to be as effective as claritin in relieving nasal symptoms, though more research is needed to prove this claim.

7. Tea: Inhaling the steam of any tea will start to break up the mucus responsible for your stuffy nose. But certain varieties may be more beneficial than others thanks to their nutrient content. Green and peppermint tea may be especially helpful as they are rich in plant compounds, that work to reduce inflammation. Plus, peppermint oil is specifically linked to sinus symptom relief.

8. Grapefruit: While all citrus fruits are fantastic sources of immune-supportive vitamin C, grapefruit is high in salicylic acid, helping to target stuffy noses for quicker and more effective relief. And there’s no better time to reach for citrus than the cold and flu season, as these zesty fruits are seasonal to winter.

9. Chili peppers: Finally, you have hot chili peppers to round out our list of foods and drinks for a stuffy nose. If you’ve ever eaten a dish made with really spicy peppers in the past, you likely don’t need to explain why these veggies are great for clearing out the sinuses. But research backs this up with one study showing capsaicin (the active compound in chili peppers) to provide quick and effective nasal symptom relief.


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