While inflammation is a natural part of the healing process, too much of it can lead to an excess of health problems. Some foods, such as sugar, sodium, and saturated fat can increase the amount of inflammation in your body. Excess inflammation can lead to joint pain, fatigue, and blood vessel damage.
But don’t worry, here is a list of foods that fight inflammation, and a few recipe suggestions to get the most out of them.
Olive oil is an exceptionally healthy addition to one’s diet. This plant-based fat contains the compound olecanthal, which has been shown to have similar anti-inflammatory effects to NSAID painkillers- without the negative side effects. Here are a few healthy Mediterranean olive oil recipes.
Tomatoes contain large amounts of lycopene, which has been found to reduce inflammation throughout the body. Cooked tomatoes contain higher levels of this beneficial chemical than raw ones, and consuming tomato juice is also beneficial. Check out these recipes to get the most out of tomatoes taste and health benefits:
Red raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries have all be found to have excellent anti-inflammatory properties. All of these fruits are low in fat and calories, while being high in antioxidants. Red raspberry extract has been found to prevent arthritis in animals. Strawberries can lower levels of CRP in women’s blood. Blueberries are excellent in fighting intestinal inflammation. These berries are great by themselves, or all together in a fruit salad. You can also add them to your cereal, granola, or salad for a delicious inflammation fighting meal.
All types of nuts are full of antioxidants, and can be effective in fighting and repairing damage from inflammation. Almonds are particularly rich in vitamin E, fiber, and calcium while walnuts contain a large amount of alpha-linolenic acid, and omega-3 fatty acid- all of these are great for reducing inflammation. Eating almonds raw is great, but here are a few recipes to mix it up with this excellent anti-inflammatory nut.
A 2009 study done by the University of Hawaii found that eating baked or boiled fish lowered the risk of heart disease by 23%. This applies to oily fish only, like salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel. This benefit occurs due to the high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids in these types of fish. Omega-3s have anti-inflammatory qualities, however, you’ll need to eat fish a few times a week to get the benefits.
If fish isn’t for you, you can also take fish oil supplements.
Eating whole grains, as opposed to refined white bread, rice, pasta, and cereal can do wonders when fighting inflammation. The reason behind this lies in the high levels of fiber found whole grains. Fiber reduces levels of C-reactive protein, a cause of inflammation in the blood. These products also contain less sugar. Here are some ideas for whole grain salads, as well as several other ways to incorporate them into your diet.
Unprocessed soy, found in foods like tofu, edamame, and soymilk can help lower inflammation for women. A 2007 study in the Journal of Inflammation also found that soy helped reduce inflammation in the bones and hearts of mice. Check out these healthy and delicious tofu recipes that are rich in soy.
Garlic and Onions
These vegetables have powerful smells and powerful inflammation fighting qualities. Onions contain quercerin and allicin, chemicals that break down to form free-radical fighting sulfenic acid. Garlic has similar effects to taking ibuprofen, as it can shut down the pathways that cause inflammation. Check out these Onion and Garlic recipes!
Beets are an extremely beneficial food. They contain high levels of vitamin C, betalains (a plant pigment), and fiber. All of these qualities help reduce inflammation as well as protect the body against cancer and heart disease. Take a look at this recipe list for a wealth of ideas on how to get more beets in your diet.
Oregon Health and Science University found tart cherries to have the highest anti-inflammatory content of any food. Tart cherries can reduce inflammation in blood vessels by 50%. They have also been found to improve athletes’ performance and reduce the need for anti-inflammatory medicine. Unfortunately, these benefits do not extend to sweet cherries. The best way to access these benefits is eating 1.5 cups of raw tart cherries, or drinking 1 cup of unprocessed tart cherry juice daily.
Ginger and Tumeric
These tasty spices have been found to carry a range of anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger, particularly when taken in supplement form, has been found to reduce inflammation in the intestines. Its relative, Tumeric, is often found in curries, helps turn off kappa B, a protein that regulates the process of inflammation. There are several ways to incorporate these spices into your diet, take a look at these recipes for garlic and tumeric.
Dark Leafy Greens
Dark greens, such as kale, spinach, collard greens, and broccoli are known as superfoods for a reason. These greens contain high concentrations of vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium, and disease fighting phytochemicals. The high level of vitamin E gives these foods particularly good anti-inflammatory qualities, as vitamin E helps eliminate inflammation-causing molecules called cytokines. Try incorporating these greens in any salad, sandwich, or smoothie that you make.
While dairy can cause problems for those with intolerances to the casein (a protein found in dairy), it has benefits for those who can tolerate it. In addition to being rich in calcium and vitamin D, dairy products such as yogurt contain probiotics. Probiotics eliminate inflammation in the gut, here are some tips for finding the best probiotic yogurts.
If peppers agree with you, they have excellent anti-inflammatory qualities. Bell peppers are rich in antioxidant vitamins and hot peppers, such as chili and cayenne contain capsaicin, a chemical proven to reduce pain and inflammation. Here are some recipes for bell and cayenne peppers that will make these foods a staple in your diet.