Dear Lea: I’m wondering if you could make suggestions about foods that are good for people who are trying to avoid inflammation throughout the body. –CA.
Thank you for asking this very relevant question. Inflammation plays a role in many common diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimers and other diseases affecting the lungs, liver and digestive system.
A number of foods cause over-activity in the immune system. These increase inflammation.
- Carbohydrates and sugars:
- Foods high in simple sugars, high fructose corn syrup, candy and pastries, refined carbohydrates such as white flour, white rice and white pasta
- Corn and corn products, and wheat and gluten-containing products can also increase inflammation.
- Some fats:
- Trans fats, hydrogenated oils and partially hydrogenated oil in processed baked goods and deep fried foods.
- Saturated fats in animal products (not in vegetable products such as coconut oils).
Omega 6 fatty acids found in vegetable oils such as canola, corn and soybean.
Fortunately, there are many tasty foods that fight inflammation. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and nuts are at the top of the list.
- Many vegetables and fruits are high in antioxidants and healthy phytochemicals. Eat a variety and lots of bright colors from dark green leafy vegetables, oranges, berries, cherries, squash, beets, tomatoes, peppers and broccoli. Garlic and onions are great to add to dishes for flavor and for their anti-inflammatory qualities.
- Many spices are specifically anti-inflammatory. Ginger, turmeric and oregano are examples.
- Whole grains are better than refined grains. Choose brown rice, quinoa, millet, whole oats and other whole grains.
- Healthy oils and fats are an important consideration for an anti-inflammatory diet.
- Olive oil and coconut oil are good to use on a regular basis. For other oils, choose oils that are high-oleic, expeller pressed safflower or sunflower. Get some of your healthy fats from natural products such as fatty fish (salmon, sardines, herring, black cod), omega-3 fortified eggs, avocados, nuts and seeds and nut or seed butters.
- Green tea, black tea and coffee have all been found to have anti-oxidant qualities as well as dark chocolate and red wine!
Lea Basch is a registered dietitian and has been in the nutrition industry for over 30 years, most of which she spent at Longmont United Hospital in Boulder, Colorado, where she was one of the founders of the facility’s nutrition program. Longmont’s Planetree philosophy of caring for the body, mind and spirit of patients is very much in line with Lea’s interest in both traditional and alternative therapies for treating chronic illnesses. Gluten-intolerant herself, Lea now focuses much of her time on the latest research and issues relating to gluten-free diets and other food intolerances. She is a diabetes educator and is a Registered Dietitian with the American Dietetic Association. Lea’s lifelong passion has been combining the science of nutrition with the heart that it takes to change lifelong habits.
Lea received her BS and MS in Nutrition and Dietetics at Florida International University and BA in Education at University of Florida. Ask Lea your nutrition questions at Lea@tastefulpantry.com