Many chronic diseases have been linked to inflammation, but eating certain anti-inflammatory foods may help.
When your body’s immune system identifies something foreign, such as allergens, chemicals, or bacteria, it triggers inflammation as a way to get rid of these invaders. So, in some instances, inflammation can be a good thing. But if that inflammation persists over a long period, it can become dangerous to your health.
One of the most powerful ways to help combat inflammation in the body is through what we eat. Eating anti-inflammatory foods—and avoiding too many inflammatory ones—may help reduce the risk of illness and keep us healthy long-term.
Here are some of the best choices.
1. Leafy Green Vegetables
Green, leafy vegetables like broccoli, spinach, kale, bok choy, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage are some of the most nutritious whole foods you can consume. They’ll full of vitamins and minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients that may help reduce inflammation in the body.
Try to add leafy greens to at least one of your meals every day, preferably every meal. It’s easy to add them to soups, stir-fries, casseroles, and even blend them in sauces or smoothies.
2. Other Colorful Vegetables
Leafy greens might be king, but eating the rainbow is even better. Focus on a variety of colorful vegetables in your daily diet, including:
- Sweet potatoes
- Bell peppers (red, green, yellow, orange)
- Red cabbage
- And more
Find ways you enjoy eating these, either cooked or raw, in a variety of dishes.
3. Fatty Fish
Fish contain omega-3s, which are well-known for their potential to help combat inflammation. Try to incorporate fatty cold-water fish like salmon, sardines, tuna, and anchovies.
See also: Fish Oil and Omegas
Berries are part of the colorful fruits and vegetables we are encouraged to eat every day. Think blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries. They’re high in fiber and nutrients to help keep you healthy and help reduce the risk of chronic disease.
5. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts have been associated with reduced inflammation markers and are full of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, and peanuts are also great sources of vitamin E, which may help decrease inflammation and protect our bodies from the harmful effects of free radicals [*].
Seeds are also good options for healthy fats, fiber, and important vitamins and minerals. Walnuts, flax seeds, and chia seeds are also excellent sources of omega-3s.
Enjoy nut butter or add nuts or seeds to salads, on top of meals, in veggie burgers, or have a handful as a snack!
6. Olive Oil
Olive oil is popular in Mediterranean diets because of its monounsaturated fat content, antioxidants, and a compound called oleocanthal that may have anti-inflammatory effects similar to the over-the-counter drug ibuprofen [*].
For the best quality, look for virgin olive oil preferably packaged in a dark bottle with a harvest date close to when you buy it.
Onions contain quercetin, a flavonoid that provides antioxidant protection and helps boosts immune system function. Onions are a powerful anti-inflammatory option to add to the other veggies in your diet. Try them grilled, sauteed in stir-fries, raw in salads, or on top of any other dish.
8. Whole Grains
If you’re not following a low-carb diet or sensitive to grains, whole grains can be a good option for anti-inflammatory foods. They’re high in fiber and other nutrients that are beneficial to health.
Oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, whole wheat couscous, sprouted grain bread, and other grains are great in healthy meals. Just make sure you choose products made with 100% whole grains and no refined grains.
Beans are high in fiber, a good vegan source of protein, and full of anti-inflammatory components like antioxidants. Add some beans like black beans, chickpeas, kidney beans, or great northern beans to your meals to boost fiber, protein, and starches.
10. Turmeric and Other Spices
Other good spice options include garlic, ginger, cinnamon, rosemary, sage, and more.
11. Green Tea
Green tea contains polyphenols and catechins, which are powerful antioxidants. A cup or two of green tea daily is a good complement to an anti-inflammatory diet. Plus, green tea gives you a little boost of caffeine without being as stimulating as coffee or energy drinks.
Foods to Avoid in an Anti-inflammatory Diet
Anti-inflammatory foods are important for long-term health. But what we don’t eat matters too. While moderation is key, it’s best to focus on limiting or avoiding inflammation-promoting foods like:
- White sugars
- Refined carbohydrates like cakes, cookies, and white bread or refined grains
- Sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages (switch to healthier options like Zevia!)
- Processed meats like hot dogs
- Fast food meals
- Packaged snacks and desserts
Plus, eating too much of these foods can contribute to weight gain and obesity, which is also a risk factor for inflammation.
Some people are also sensitive to nightshade vegetables like potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, paprika, cayenne pepper, and bell peppers. If you have an autoimmune condition or suspect your body reacts to these foods, discuss an elimination diet with your doctor.
Eat More Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Vegetables and fruits, healthy fats, beans, whole grains, and nuts and seeds are all whole foods that can promote an anti-inflammatory diet. At Nature’s Ideal, we’re committed to providing products that help you live a healthy lifestyle in the most convenient way. To browse our collection of carefully-selected natural foods, shop with us today.