Inflammation, as part of the human’s natural defense system, brings extra nutrients and immune cells to a diseased, infected or otherwise injured area of our body. In this way inflammation protects us and helps to repair damaged tissues. But when inflammation becomes chronic due to an overstressed, overweight or nutrient-deficient body, then it not only stops defending, but it also creates a higher risk of inflammatory associated diseases, including heart disease, cancer, arthritis, diabetes, and allergies.
Foods that exhibit a high level of phytonutrients and anti-inflammatory properties, when combined with a healthy lifestyle, may reduce chronic inflammation and lessen your risks of disease (Hu, 2014).
Here are our top 10 anti-inflammatory foods:
Beets – Beets contain phytonutrients called betalains, which have potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Sliced thin and lightly steamed (for 15 minutes or less), or grated raw in a slaw, beets combat inflammation and provide essential vitamins and minerals.
Flax Seeds – This plant-based source of omega-3’s has a normalizing effect on blood pressure and helps maintain cholesterol levels, soothing inflammatory conditions. A tablespoon of the ground seed can be added daily to any grain recipe, such as oatmeal or muffins.
Collard Greens – The high level of glucosinolates found in collard greens can help lower your risk of chronic disease by supporting the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory system. One to 2 cups several times per week is suggested.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil – Since olive oil contains an anti-inflammatory specific enzyme, oleocanthal, you can replace butter, lard, and vegetable oils with this naturally anti-inflammatory oil and enjoy its inherent pain relieving capacities.
Oranges – This beautiful, delicious fruit packs in over 170 different phytonutrients, many of which directly affect inflammation. Oranges mediate the inflammatory response to help treat and prevent chronic disease.
Berries – All berries, from blueberries and raspberries, to strawberries and blackberries, contain polyphenol compounds, which have direct anti-inflammatory effects on a cellular level. Adding up to a cup of berries per day can boost your chronic disease defenses.
Ginger – Valued for centuries for its anti-inflammatory properties, ginger mimics the actions of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (like Ibuprofen) without the harmful side effects. Grated fresh ginger can easily be added to soups and stir-fries.
Shiitake Mushrooms – Because they are rich in bioactive compounds, shiitake mushrooms help block the inflammatory stage associated with cholesterol build up while protecting blood vessels. Sautéed or added to soups, shiitakes make a nutrient dense addition to any meal.
Lentils – Often characterized as the perfect staple food, lentils contain phytonutrients that help lower c-reactive protein levels (CRP), which are used to indicate the extent of inflammation. Lentils make a satisfying meal in a hearty soup, or simmered in curry spice.
Walnuts – Walnuts contain a unique phytonutrient called quinone juglone, which detoxifies cells and provides circulatory protection with anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory actions. Also high in omega-3’s, a small handful of walnuts each day may work to calm chronic inflammation.
Hu, F. (2014). Foods That Fight Inflammation. Retrieved July 2015 from http://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/foods-that-fight-inflammation