Inflammation has been one of the hottest topics in health and wellness lately. From social media and podcasts to doctors visits, more and more people are learning about the powerful impact of inflammation on our bodies and the many health problems it can cause over time.
As someone who cares deeply about feeling my best, I have been researching ways to reduce inflammation through changes in diet. I have found that eating more anti-inflammatory foods is one of the most effective strategies for bringing inflammation levels down naturally. By focusing my meals around foods that are full of anti-oxidants and other compounds that fight inflammation, I have noticed a huge difference in my energy levels, joint pain, and overall sense of wellbeing.
So, let’s talk more about inflammation. What exactly is it?
Inflammation in the body is a natural response to injury, infection, and toxins. However, chronic inflammation can lead to serious health problems like heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. Fortunately, your diet can make a real impact on reducing inflammation in the body.
Here are 10 of the best anti-inflammatory foods to add to your plate:
1. Berries – Berries like strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries are packed with antioxidants and polyphenols that reduce inflammation. They contain compounds like anthocyanins that decrease inflammation markers in the body.
2. Fatty fish – Salmon, tuna, and trout are high in omega-3 fatty acids which have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Cod liver oil is an additional source of omega-3s that is easy to incorporate into your diet. Aim for a serving of fatty fish at least twice a week.
3. Nuts – Nuts like walnuts, almonds, and cashews are rich in omega-3s, fiber, vitamin E, and antioxidants that help fight inflammation. Reach for a small handful as a snack.
4. Olive oil – The monounsaturated fatty acids in olive oil decrease inflammatory markers in the body. Switch to using extra virgin olive oil as your primary oil for cooking and salad dressings.
5. Vegetables – Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and leafy greens contain anti-inflammatory nutrients like indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane. Aim for several servings of veggies per day. It’s also recommended that you fill about half of your plate with vegetables, which will additionally help you feel more full without a lot of added calories.
6. Sweet potatoes – Sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene that reduces inflammatory markers. They also contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory vitamins like vitamin C and vitamin B6.
7. Turmeric – The compound curcumin in turmeric is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Add turmeric or golden milk to your diet a few times per week. I like to add it into smoothies, stir fry, soups, and more.
8. Tomatoes – Tomatoes are high in the antioxidant lycopene which decreases inflammation. Enjoy tomatoes raw, cooked, in sauce or juice.
9. Garlic – Compounds in garlic like allicin decrease inflammatory markers and cytokines in the body. I like to use loads of garlic to flavor my dishes but you can also take standardized garlic supplements.
10. Beans – Beans and legumes are high in fiber, magnesium, and folate that reduce inflammation. Choose beans like chickpeas, black beans, and lentils to add to chili, salads, and soups several times per week. Chickpeas are a personal favorite because they’re so easy to digest. I love making my homemade hummus with them, too. Bonus: this recipe also has loads of garlic and olive oil, making it an awesome recipe to incorporate if you’re trying to reduce inflammation in the body.
By adding these anti-inflammatory foods to your diet on a regular basis, you can potentially reduce your risk of chronic inflammation and inflammation-related diseases. Try swapping out a few of your current meals or snacks for these anti-inflammatory superfoods and see how you feel.
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• National Institutes of Health – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5664031/
• Harvard Health Publishing – https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/foods-that-fight-inflammation