Inflammation can be very helpful in the short-term and can protect your body against injury and illness. But when this inflammation becomes chronic, it can contribute to ongoing aches and pains, and many serious health problems such as obesity, heart disease, and even cancer.
Additionally, the presence of saturated fats and sugar in your food might boost the inflammation further and can lead to excessive activity in the immune system. This leads to damaged blood vessels, joint pain and can indirectly result in tiredness, fatigue and lack of energy.
So, what is the solution? Well, check your diet! There are various anti-inflammatory foods which, if consumed properly, would enhance your immune system and help you to fight inflammation and pain.
Let take a look at some of the best anti-inflammatory foods.
Cherries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins, which have been shown in studies to have a huge amount of anti-inflammatory benefits. Eating 20g of sweet cherries every day for a month led to a decrease in C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammatory marker. And this effect continued for another month afterward!
Grapes are another fruit that contains anthocyanins. They also have another compound called resveratrol. In one study, people with heart disease saw a decrease in inflammatory gene markers after they consumed grape extract daily.
Tomatoes contain an anti-inflammatory antioxidant called lycopene. Drinking tomato juice has been shown to improve inflammatory markers for people who are overweight.
Cooking tomatoes in olive oil can maximize the anti-inflammatory benefits. Lycopene is a fat-soluble antioxidant so you’ll absorb more of it through olive oil.
Edible mushrooms contain a ton of antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory qualities. A type of mushroom known as lion’s mane may be able to decrease low-level, chronic inflammation linked to obesity.
One thing to note though: according to one study, cooking mushrooms may reduce the anti-inflammatory benefits so just light cooking can be a good bet.
Capsicums are packed with highly anti-inflammatory antioxidants.
One of these antioxidants is quercetin, which can help protect against damage caused by oxidative stress, especially for older people.
Capsicums have sinapic acid and ferulic acid too. These are believed to have anti-inflammatory benefits and may protect against premature aging linked to oxidative stress.
Avocado has gained something of a “superfood” status recently and there’s some good reasons for this! As well as being packed full of nutrients, they also contain antioxidants such as carotenoids and tocopherols.
In studies, eating avocado in a hamburger was linked to lower levels of inflammatory markers.
Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines contain omega-3 fatty acids in the form of EPA and DHA. These fatty acids have been shown to reduce inflammatory markers linked to heart disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and kidney disease. In some studies, fatty fish has also decreased C-reactive protein (CRP). This is another inflammatory marker and can be the first sign that there is chronic inflammation in the body.
Turmeric is a spice with a ton of anti-inflammatory benefits. Curcumin is the main reason for this and studies have shown that it can improve symptoms in a range of inflammatory conditions.
In one study, combining 1g of curcumin with black pepper led to a big decrease in C-reactive protein (CPR) for people with metabolic syndrome. The piperine in black pepper is known to increase curcumin absorption by a significant amount.
However, studies have also suggested that it can be very challenging to consume enough curcumin to get strong anti-inflammatory effects through your diet alone. Supplementing with curcumin can be effective, especially ones that also contain piperine.
Olive oil is highly anti-inflammatory.
It’s full of heart-healthy fats and is linked to a lower risk of heart disease. The effects are so great that oleocanthal (one of the antioxidants in olive oil) has been compared to anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen.
In one study looking at the Mediterranean diet, olive oil helped to reduce several inflammatory markers, including CRP. Participants in this study consumed 50ml of olive oil per day.
Want to get these benefits for yourself? Using extra virgin olive oil is your best bet.
Love your chocolate? Make it dark chocolate and get a whole heap of antioxidants into the bargain.
Flavanols are a big part of this. Studies have shown that they can help keep endothelial cells in the arteries healthy. In one study involving smokers, participants had a big improvement in endothelial function just a couple of hours after consuming a drink rich in cocoa.
Go for dark chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa.
It’s not only foods that can help lower inflammation levels; your choice of drinks can too! Green tea is linked to a ton of health benefits, from lower risk of heart disease to protecting against Alzheimer ’s disease. Much of this is due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits of epigallocatechin-3- gallate (EGCG). EGCG is known to reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines.
While these 13 foods can have a powerful inflammation-reducing effect, they are not the only foods. Many nuts, such as walnuts and almonds, reduce inflammation. As does garlic, pineapples and apples.
The right choice of food can help you in regulating your inflammation. Not only can this help you to feel much better, it can contribute to your long-term health and wellbeing. However, care should be taken that you consume these foods in a way that a balanced diet is not compromised.
Are you already boosting your diet with these anti-inflammatory foods? I’d love to know in the comments below.