Inflammation is our body’s way of protecting itself and healing. But when inflammation is persistent and out of control it damages the body and causes illness. Chronic inflammation is the root of many chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, obesity and cancer.
Many foods increase inflammation, for example sugars, trans fats, some high Omega 6 fat vegetable oils and processed foods.
Fortunately, there are many foods that are anti-inflammatory. These lower the body’s inflammation. Which foods are the best anti-inflammatory foods?
My top 10 foods and their anti-inflammatory substances:
- Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, sardines, halibut and mackerel and fish oil supplements high in the Omega-3 fats, DHA and EPA. You can also find Omega-3 fortified eggs.
- Broccoli contains the antioxidant sulforaphane, as do other cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, brussels sprouts and kale.
- Avocados are packed heart healthy monounsaturated fats, fiber and potassium, magnesium, carotenoids and tocopherols. Avocado oil also contains these nutrients and can be used in higher heat cooking.
- Nuts and seeds are packed with healthy anti-inflammatory fats. Although all nuts are healthy, walnuts and flaxseeds contain alpha-linolenic acid, a type of Omega-3 fat that has super anti-inflammatory properties and is also good for your brain.
- Green tea has Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) and other polyphenols. Black and white teas also have anti-inflammatory polyphenols.
- Dark chocolate contains flavanols that help keep the linings of your arteries healthy. Make sure you choose at least 70% cocoa and extreme dark 85% is even better.
- Berries are superb. Although many fruits are healthy, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries are good sources of fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and they are lower in carbs.
- Tart cherries and tart cherry juice contain anti-inflammatory anthocyanins, quercetin, limonene, ellagic acid. Having trouble sleeping? Tart cherries also contain sleep-inducing melatonin, making it one of the most powerful disease fighting fruits.
- Onions and garlic not only provide wonderful flavors for dishes but also contain chemicals such as quercetin and allicin, which contain anti-bacterial properties.
- Red wine in moderation (1-2 drinks) and red grapes. Grapes, especially red grapes, contain anthocyanin and resveratrol that have been proven to have health benefits.
To quell your body’s inflammatory fires, base your diet on these and the myriad of other anti-inflammatory foods including bell and chili peppers, tomatoes, citrus fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes. Cook with olive and coconut oil and cooling spices such as cinnamon, turmeric, ginger and cayenne. The good news is that many foods that are part of a healthy whole-foods based diet also have anti-inflammatory properties, so if you eat a balanced diet it’s likely you’ll also be helping your body fight chronic inflammation!