Our diets can have a huge impact on health, from weight loss to managing disease to keeping every organ system running smoothly. Another area of health that can be impacted by a good diet is inflammation. While some inflammation is a good, natural defense response of our bodies, too much can cause issues, like swollen joints, pain, and some chronic illnesses.
If you’re looking to use your diet as a way of reducing your inflammation, check out these foods to get started.
Anytime you cook, you likely use a little bit of oil. But not all oils are created equally and some are better than others when dealing with inflammation.
If you’re looking to reduce your inflammatory response, reach for the olive oil. More than many other oils, it is a rich source of oleic acid, an omega-9 fatty acid that specifically helps to minimize inflammation. Some other great options to use instead of vegetable oil are grapeseed and avocado oils
Try using these healthy oils to cook, but also in salads for your anti-inflammatory foods to work faster. Along with working well with your immune system’s inflammatory response, good oils are also good for your heart and brain.
You may have heard some nasty rumors about red meat. Guess what – they’re true! One of those rumors is that it’s higher in cholesterol and salt, both of which increase inflammation or can trigger it.
Instead, get your protein through fish, especially salmon, snapper, tuna, cod, halibut, and bass. These fish are high in the omega-3 fatty acids, which work as an anti-inflammatory to reduce inflammation. If you can’t help but crave your red meat, choose grass-fed beef, which is higher in omega acids.
Everyone craves a snack once in a while, whether it’s at your desk at work or between chores at home or after a workout at the gym. Nuts are a wonderful option, particularly walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts, which all are high in omega-3 fatty acids. You may also want to give sunflower seeds a try! They share some of the same benefits.
Another option for a snack – maybe if you are craving something sweet – is fruit. These can come in a variety of options, like dried, fruit leather, a fruit medley, or simply raw pieces.
For the most anti-inflammatory benefits, try apples, blueberries, cherries, pineapple, raspberries, or strawberries. The Arthritis Foundation has said that the antioxidants in fresh fruits and veggies can help your body fight the free radical that may cause cellular damage, leading to inflammation (1).
Yes, this option may have you reaching for the breath mints, but garlic can be an extremely effective anti-inflammatory food. A study from 2009 found that garlic can have a really positive impact on swollen joints. Use it when you cook to add flavor, maybe even with other anti-inflammatory flavor components.
Herbs aren’t just for flavor! They have a long history of being used for health and healing. Fresh herbs, like basil, thyme, and oregano, can be great options when you’re making dinner and they also provide antioxidants to help fight inflammation. In a 2010 review, herbs like curcumin and chili pepper were shown to have compounds to fight inflammation and reduce pain (2).
Many of us will be happy about this one. Finally, a favorite treat that can give back! It’s important to note that not all chocolate will have the inflammatory effect that you’re looking for. You’ll need to reach for the 70% pure cocoa to get the benefits.
One tea in particular is the rockstar of healthy options for a morning beverage. Green tea works to fight inflammation in your body, all the while reducing your risk of heart disease and cancer. For a fun addition, add some lemon, which also has antioxidants, to fight your inflammation even harder.
If you’re looking for more protein options on this list, you’re in luck. Beans are a great source of plant-based protein. 1 cup of beans has 15 grams of protein and they are an affordable option that you can add in most dishes. They are also full of fiber and phytonutrients, which can help to decrease your inflammation.
Full of nutrients and antioxidants, onions are the smelly friend to your immune system. They can reduce inflammation, the risk of heart disease and high cholesterol levels. An easy way to add them to your diet is to add them in soups or sauces.
High Fiber Foods
One of the biggest benefits of fiber is that it can lower C-reactive protein (CRP), something found in our blood that often suggests there is inflammation. Your best bet for high-fiber foods are whole grains, beans, vegetables, and fruits. Try adding in a bowl of oatmeal or quinoa to your diet.
Great on toast or with a sprinkle of your favorite herb, avocado is rich in monounsaturated fat and high in vitamin E, both of which have anti-inflammatory properties that appear to reduce the risk of joint damage that you see in early osteoarthritis. Avocado can also help regulate your cholesterol levels.
Making simple choices in your diet can have a huge impact on your inflammation levels. Take some time to work out how you’ll fit these into your regular menu and your body will thank you.
References & Disclaimers
✝✝This noted statement is based on independent research and is not necessarily the opinion of the author