The Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods for Your Health

The Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods for Your Health

Key Takeaways

Add heart-healthy fats and Omega-3 rich foods like olive oil, avocados, nuts, and fatty fish to naturally fight inflammation.
Increase your consumption of antioxidant-packed fruits, vegetables, and spices.
Eliminate processed, fried, and refined foods from your diet to reduce inflammation and promote overall health.

One of the best ways to reduce inflammation in the body might not be in the medicine cabinet but in the refrigerator. By choosing anti-inflammatory foods, you can fight off inflammation for good.

When your body recognizes a foreign threat like a microbe, chemical, or even plant pollen, your immune system gets triggered. This process is called inflammation. In short bursts, this is what protects us from these external threats but sometimes this process is ongoing and doesn’t quit. Over time, prolonged inflammation might lead to chronic illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. 

The good news is many of the foods we come across at the grocery store or farmer’s market can help us combat inflammation.

The Power of Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Monounsaturated fats, Omega-3 fatty acids, colorful fruits and vegetables, and even herbs and spices can all help to reduce inflammation in the body.

Monosaturated Fats

Heart-healthy fats raise your good cholesterol and contain high amounts of antioxidants, which help to remove damage from the body. Good sources include extra virgin olive oil, olives, avocados, nuts/seeds and natural nut butter.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential, meaning they must be obtained by food! They inhibit enzymes that trigger inflammatory hormones and suppress cytokines which erode cartilage. Good sources include fatty wild-caught fish (salmon, sardines, tuna, halibut and mackerel), walnuts, flax/chia seeds and pastured (grass-fed) eggs, beef, milk and chicken.

Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and veggies provide a wide array of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help eliminate damage and heal the body. However, certain produce provides extra benefits.

  • Leafy greens: Low in calories and high in antioxidants. Aim for one cup per day.
  • Berries: Low in sugar and high in antioxidants. Aim for four servings per week. 
  • Broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower: Contain natural detoxifying components and a potent antioxidant.
  • Orange fruits and veggies: High in vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant.

Herbs and Spices

Herbs and spices contain concentrated amounts of antioxidants and can upgrade your food without adding calories or extra sodium.

  • Turmeric: Contains compounds that influence more than 700 genes in the body. Pair with black pepper.
  • Green tea: High in antioxidants, add a squeeze of lemon to enhance antioxidant absorption.
  • Cinnamon: Helps stabilize blood sugar levels. High blood sugar has pro-inflammatory effects. 
  • Ginger: Helps to suppress pro-inflammatory compounds.

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Foods to Limit

On the flip side, you’ll want to limit foods that can increase inflammation. Highly processed foods, especially those high in refined sugars and unhealthy fats, can exacerbate inflammatory responses in the body. Fried foods and refined carbohydrates like sugar and white bread can make things worse too. In excessive amounts, these foods can lead to weight gain and obesity, further adding to the inflammation cycle.  

Often, the middle isles of a grocery store contain the inflammatory culprits. The highly processed, shelf-stable foods that were meant to last, but not keep you healthy.

A good rule of thumb is to stay on the outskirts of the store. This is where you’ll likely find fruits and veggies, grass-fed meats, and wild-caught fish. Moving you closer to an anti-inflammatory lifestyle.

Working With a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

While the information provided here sets a foundation for adjusting your diet to combat inflammation, individual needs can vary greatly. Partnering with a dietitian can personalize your approach, ensuring that your diet fully aligns with your specific health conditions and goals. 

A dietitian can also help you navigate the complexities of food choices and develop a sustainable eating plan tailored just for you. If reducing inflammation is a priority for you, consider taking the next step by booking an appointment with one of our dietitians to enhance your diet and overall well-being.

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