Many people are living with chronic, high levels of inflammation in their bodies and they don’t even know it. This puts them at risk for chronic diseases and other health problems. But you can fight back with one simple thing: your diet. Eat these anti-inflammatory foods each day, and you’ll lower inflammation and help prevent many serious health issues.
1. Leafy greens
The health benefits of leafy green vegetables such as kale and spinach are enormous. They are an abundant source of vitamins A, C, and K. They are loaded with antioxidants. They contain vital minerals such as magnesium, which can help with stress, and iron, which is needed for healthy red blood cells. They’re one of the best non-dairy sources of calcium.
As if we needed another reason to eat these superfoods every day, leafy greens are also a great way to reduce inflammation. The USDA says eating dark leafy greens is vital to a healthy diet and that they protect against a number of inflammatory diseases.
Leafy greens are incredibly versatile. Eat them raw as a salad topped with some nuts and an olive oil-based salad dressing (without added sugar). Cook them lightly in a skillet with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil. Or, add them to a morning fruit smoothie for a nutritional boost.
You may already know that some types of fatty fish like salmon contain omega-3 fats, which are arguably the healthiest fats available. A diet high in omega-3 fats helps reduce the risk of heart disease and other health issues.
Omega-3 fatty acids also have plenty of evidence that shows that they fight inflammation. Some studies have shown that their powerful anti-inflammatory action can even help prevent metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions that lead to heart disease, diabetes, and stroke.
Mackerel, salmon, and sardines are great fish sources of Omega-3. But if you don’t eat two servings a week, you may need a fish oil supplement. Ask a doctor whether this is right for you.
3. Strawberries and blueberries
Everyone’s favorite summer fruits are more than a delicious dessert topper. Strawberries and blueberries are loaded with fiber and antioxidants. They should also become your treat of choice if you’re following an anti-inflammatory diet.
Medical studies state that berries can improve cholesterol levels and blood sugar regulation, and they’re inflammation fighters that decrease oxidative stress on the body. They’re also “chemoprotective,” which means they can help fight cancer.
Most people love the taste of berries, so they’re not hard to incorporate into the diet. Eat them in place of desserts. If they’re not in season, frozen berries with no sugar added are a great choice and can be added to smoothies.
Don’t limit this tropical fruit to just a garnish. Pineapple is packed with vitamin C and a number of B vitamins. But perhaps its most important health benefit is an enzyme known as bromelain, which is not found in any other foods.
Bromelain’s anti-inflammatory power is so extraordinary that it’s been studied for its use as an anti-tumor agent. It’s also been studied as a possible post-surgery pain reliever. Some evidence suggests bromelain can be used as a wound healer and possible anticancer therapy.
Make sure you eat the fruit and don’t settle for juice only. Of course, you can always use pineapple in a homemade tropical smoothie with some strawberries, mango, and unsweetened coconut milk.
5. Bone broth
Bone broth is an anti-aging superfood, with its rich source of natural collagen. And bone broth has even more to offer: it is an amazing inflammation fighter that can boost your immune system (grandma was right about chicken soup). In fact, one study found that bone broth helped stop the inflammatory response in people who had colds.
Make your own bone broth easily with chicken bones. Place the bones from a whole chicken in a pot along with your favorite vegetables such as an onion, carrots, and celery. Add some garlic for even more inflammation-fighting power. Then, cover it all with water and bring to a boil, then simmer for at least 5 hours. The broth will be delicious and you can use the chicken meat in your soup for a protein boost.
This rich, buttery fruit is having a moment, but there’s plenty of truth behind the health claims. Avocado is a rich source of monounsaturated fats, which help lower bad cholesterol and your risk for heart disease and stroke. Avocados also contain plenty of potassium and magnesium, fiber, vitamin E, and almost no sugar.
Avocados are also inflammation-fighting warriors. One study found that eating avocado helped reduce inflammation after a hamburger meal. Another study found that their anti-inflammatory power helped suppress inflammation in the skin after it was exposed to UV light.
Avocado can be used in many different ways: in a smoothie, on a salad, or mixed with an egg for breakfast. Experiment with your favorite ways to eat it.
Inflammation-causing foods to avoid
You don’t want to undo the anti-inflammatory action of your healthy diet by eating foods that will simply cause more inflammation. So, make an effort to avoid inflammation-causing foods as you focus on your anti-inflammatory lifestyle.
Limit or avoid:
- Processed foods, especially refined white flour products, baked goods, and sugary treats
- Fried foods
- Sugar-laden beverages, including soda and sugary coffee drinks
- Processed meat such as hot dogs and bacon
- Omega-6 fats found in processed vegetable oils like corn and soils or margarine
These foods have all been linked to a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease, and other inflammation-related conditions.
Fight inflammation daily with your diet
Although anti-inflammatory foods are a great choice when you’re fighting a cold or the flu, don’t save them for the times when you’re sick. Eating anti-inflammatory foods every day can do much more than fight a minor illness: it could be the extra boost you need to prevent major diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer.
Need help with starting a healthy diet? Garcia Weight Loss offers personalized wellness plans to help you maintain a healthy weight and achieve a healthier life. Contact us for your no-cost consultation today!
Medically reviewed by Jay J. Garcia, MD on February 6, 2019