Inflammation is the body’s natural response to harmful stimuli such as bacteria or viruses. However, chronic inflammation is associated with many illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and diabetes. Doctors are learning that one of the best ways to reduce inflammation lies not in the medicine cabinet, but in the food cupboard.
Check out these 22 foods that are great for reducing inflammation in your body:
Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, salmon helps reduce your risk of heart disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Plus, studies show it may help prevent cognitive decline as you age. Try it in a salmon salad with lemon, dill, and capers, or over brown rice.
Broccoli is a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables that contains sulforaphane, an organic sulfur compound with potent anti-inflammatory properties. One study found that eating three servings of broccoli per week reduced the risk of developing ulcerative colitis by 60%. The sulforaphane in broccoli helps repair tissue damaged by chronic inflammation. In addition, broccoli is a good source of vitamin C, calcium, and fiber.
A cup of chopped broccoli has more vitamin C than an orange and can also help prevent the pain, stiffness, and soreness associated with osteoarthritis. Add some cheese and walnuts on top for a tasty and healthy side dish.
One study found people who eat brussels sprouts have a 70% lower risk of developing stomach ulcers. Sprout seeds are also high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. Try them in a stir-fry or roasted as a vegetable.
This peppery green is a good source of vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, fiber, and phytochemicals. It has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for colds and flu. Mix some watercress with chicken or tuna salad, or serve it as a side dish.
A cup of cooked watercress contains only 45 calories but it’s one of the best foods for relieving joint inflammation. It’s a great addition to sandwiches, soups, salads, and pasta dishes.
Kale is rich in vitamins A, B6, and C, potassium, folate, and calcium, and is an excellent source of fiber so can help lower cholesterol levels in your body. It’s also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help your skin stay healthy and moisturized.
Kale also has an extremely high iron content (almost twice as much as spinach!) which can help boost your immune system and relieve joint discomfort. Kale is delicious in soups, stews, and chowders. Add it to your diet on a regular basis to help with joint inflammation.
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that may help fight cancer. In addition, tomatoes contain other nutrients that help your body stay healthy, such as vitamins A and C. Add some chopped-up tomatoes to pasta sauce or toss them with your favorite Italian meatballs or chicken.
Asparagus is very high in potassium and a good source of vitamin C. Potassium is essential for healthy bone development and repair, while Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron from foods you eat. Asparagus also contains a chemical called “asparagine” that acts as a natural anti-inflammatory.
Avocados contain high amounts of monounsaturated fats, which can lower “bad” cholesterol and improve your lipid profile (a measure of your cholesterol levels in your blood).
Avocados are also packed with fiber, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, and folate. Make sure you choose the “right” avocados: The darker the green, the higher the nutrient content
Olive oil has been shown to be an effective anti-inflammatory agent for many people with arthritis. It also helps promote healthy skin, hair, and nails. Use it as a salad dressing, drizzle it on vegetables or mix it with flaxseeds and nuts for a healthy snack.
Ginger is a root that grows in tropical areas around the world. It has been used as a spice for thousands of years in Asia, and today it is widely used in Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Pacific Rim cuisines. Ginger contains bioactive compounds called gingerols that have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. In fact, research shows that gingerols are more potent than aspirin in reducing joint inflammation. In addition to being tasty and spicy, ginger is useful for relieving gas and bloating, and may even help prevent motion sickness.
Ginger also contains antioxidants that can help prevent cancer, heart disease, and gastrointestinal disorders. Add some grated ginger to your next stir-fry or add it to tea to stimulate your digestion.
This tropical fruit has more potassium than most other foods – potassium is an electrolyte that helps maintain fluid balance in your body and promotes healthy blood pressure levels. It also helps muscles contract and relax properly, regulates heart rhythm, and maintains a neutral (not acidic) environment in your body.
Bananas are a good source of magnesium, another mineral that reduces inflammation. Magnesium is essential for the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the “energy currency” of the cells. ATP is vital for almost all forms of cellular activity, including muscle contraction, nerve impulse transmission, and the functioning of the immune system.
Bananas are also known as a ‘happy food’, as they can aid in reducing mild depression.
Berries are one of the few fruits and vegetables that contain significant amounts of anti-inflammatory anthocyanins. These antioxidants help reduce oxidative stress in the body and protect against cell damage from free radicals. In addition to berries, other foods high in anti-inflammatory anthocyanins include red wine, acai berries, cranberries, cherries, black currants, and goji berries.
Cinnamon is made from the dried bark of a tree native to Sri Lanka and India and has been used as a spice for thousands of years for its many health benefits. As well as having anti-inflammatory properties, studies show that cinnamon may reduce cholesterol levels and prevent blood clots and also has antibacterial and antifungal properties, which makes it useful for relieving gas and bloating. One study showed that people who regularly consume cinnamon have a 50% lower risk of heart disease. Consuming 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon daily may reduce your risk of heart disease by 17%.
This leafy green vegetable is a member of the Brassicaceae family and is one of the best sources of silica (the mineral component of bone broth). Silica is needed for strong bones and teeth, healthy connective tissue, wound healing, tissue repair, and normal functioning of your immune system. Eating three servings of collard greens per week was associated with a 56% reduction in the risk of developing arthritis.
Collard greens are very high in vitamin K and have a mild flavor that most people enjoy. They contain calcium, vitamin B6, potassium, and zinc which promote strong bones and teeth. This leafy green has a lot of fiber too which adds to your feeling of fullness. A cup of cooked collard greens contains only 63 calories but it’s a potent food for relieving joint discomfort. You can enjoy this veggie as a side dish or add it to your favorite recipes for a nutritional boost.
Spinach is packed with antioxidants, including vitamin C, vitamin E, and carotenoids. These compounds can help to lower inflammation in the body and reduce the risk of certain cancers.
1 cup of cooked spinach contains only 37 calories but provides more iron than red meat! It also has a good amount of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin K, folate, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. Spreading a serving of spinach on your bread or pasta will add fiber and bulk to your meal without adding many extra calories. You can also enjoy this veggie as a side dish or add it to your favorite recipes for a nutritional boost.
Grapefruits are a member of the Rutaceae family and are one of the most nutrient-dense fruits on the planet. It’s no wonder this juicy fruit is a staple in the diet of many health-conscious people. Grapefruit is rich in antioxidants such as flavonoids and vitamin C, which gives it potent anti-inflammatory properties. In one study, people who ate half a grapefruit before a meal experienced 30% less appetite compared to those who ate an equivalent amount of fruit that did not contain grapefruit. Another study found that eating half a grapefruit before a workout reduced muscle soreness by 50% the next day.
Green tea has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties, due to the fact that it contains antioxidants, such as EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), catechins, and polyphenols, which can fight inflammation. Studies have also shown that green tea helps to improve digestion and help reduce appetite.
Many people associate chocolate with comfort food, but its rich flavor comes from the combination of fat and antioxidants called flavonoids. A Harvard study found that chocolate can help lower blood sugar levels and reduce inflammation in your body. One ounce of dark chocolate contains approximately 200 mg of flavonoids.
Turmeric is one of the most powerful spices in the world when it comes to fighting inflammation. It is the main ingredient used to make Curcumin, an anti-inflammatory agent found in the spice turmeric. In fact, studies show that curcumin is more powerful than anything else you can put in your body to fight joint and muscle pain and stiffness. When you add turmeric to your daily diet, you can enjoy all the benefits of this amazing spice without the harmful side effects caused by consuming too much of it.
This nutritious root vegetable is extremely high in potassium and vitamin C, which is essential for healthy bone development and repair. A cup of turnip greens contains only 55 calories and is a powerful food for joint health.
Mustard greens are extremely high in vitamin K and have a mild flavor that most people enjoy. They contain calcium, vitamin B6, potassium, and zinc which promote strong bones and teeth. This leafy green has a lot of fiber too which adds to your feeling of fullness. A cup of cooked mustard greens contains only 63 calories and is a potent food for relieving joint discomfort.
Cucumbers are extremely hydrating and contain silicon which helps strengthen hair, nails, and skin. One cup of sliced cucumber contains only 9 calories and is an excellent food for relieving joint discomfort. Add it to your diet on a regular basis to help relieve joint inflammation.