When your cells become inflamed, it’s usually for two reasons. Either your body is fighting off an infection or it’s due to chronic stress, low activity levels, or an inflammatory diet.
Chronic inflammation makes your cells more susceptible to disease. Not to mention it causes pain, swelling, and irritation. This is why fighting inflammation through weight loss and diet is critical
Here, we’re going over what foods cause inflammation and the best foods to fight it.
Foods That Cause Inflammation
Eating anti-inflammatory foods is only half the battle. Knowing which ones to avoid is the second half.
The following food groups are the usual culprits of inflammation. Avoid these as much as you can:
- Refined carbohydrates (white bread, pastries, cookies)
- Fried foods
- Soda and other sugary beverages
- Processed meat (sausages, hot dogs)
- Margarine, shortening, and lard
Best Foods to Fight Inflammation
Once you’ve eliminated inflammatory foods, it’s time to fight back. The best anti-inflammatory foods to include in your diet are:
Tomatoes are impressive foods when it comes to nutrient-density. High in vitamin C, potassium, and the antioxidant lycopene, the anti-inflammatory effects are off the charts.
Whether your drink tomato juice or add them chopped to your salad, the reduction in inflammation is undeniable.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Full of monounsaturated fats (the good stuff), extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) is the base of a Mediterranean diet. It contains oleocanthal, an antioxidant with effects that have been compared to ibuprofen.
EVOO reduces the risk of heart disease and brain cancer. Be careful not to confuse EVOO with more refined olive oils.
It might smell weird, but broccoli is amazingly nutritious. Known as a cruciferous vegetable, a family of veggies including cauliflower and kale, broccoli is a great source of sulforaphane.
Sulforaphane is an antioxidant that has anti-inflammatory properties, so adding more broccoli to your diet is a good idea.
Mushrooms like truffles, Portobello mushrooms, and shiitake are usually underrated. They’re low-calorie but packed with nutrients like selenium, copper, and B vitamins. Mushrooms also contain antioxidants like phenols that contribute to reduced inflammation.
To get the most benefits from mushroom consumption, it’s best to eat them raw or only slightly cooked.
From sweet bell peppers to spicy chilis, peppers are packed with vitamin C and antioxidants, specifically quercetin. Both of which produce anti-inflammatory effects.
Peppers also contain sinapic acid and ferulic acid, also correlated with reduced inflammation. Long story short, packing your next fajita dish with peppers can become quite the anti-inflammatory meal.
Fatty fish are essential to an anti-inflammatory diet. They are a fantastic source of protein while also supplying your body with the long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids called EPA and DHA.
Not only are EPA and DHA anti-inflammatory in and of themselves, but your body metabolizes these fatty acids creating even more anti-inflammatory effects.
All kinds of fish contain fatty acids, but the best sources and the kind of fish you should be eating are:
These small fruits are jam-packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Berries also contain antioxidants known as anthocyanins which have anti-inflammatory properties. Add strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries to your yogurt or cereal for a good hit.
Grapes and Cherries
As easy to pop in your mouth as delicious berries, grapes are another fruit group that contains anthocyanins. They also are a great source of resveratrol that creates other health effects and may reduce your risk of various diseases.
Similar to grapes and berries, cherries are high in antioxidants and have awesome anti-inflammatory effects.
More than just a trendy food to put on toast, avocados are truly a superfood. Not only do they contain potassium, magnesium, fiber, and good fats, but they also have carotenoids and tocopherols which are linked to reduced inflammation.
So, go ahead – smash it on some toast and snap a photo of it for Instagram. It’s good for you!
Dark Chocolate and Cocoa
That’s right – chocolate can be good for you. Packed with antioxidants like flavanols, dark chocolate is rich, yummy, and anti-inflammatory.
When choosing dark chocolate for its health properties, it’s best to go with at least 70% cocoa. The more cocoa, the better.
The orange-colored spice, often associated with Indian food contains the powerful antioxidant curcumin. Combining a gram of turmeric with black pepper has shown significant anti-inflammatory results.
Many people take turmeric as a supplement but it can also be delicious in curries or even as a golden latte.
Now that we’re getting into beverage territory, if you’re going to drink something other than water, green tea is your best bet. It’s said to be able to reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s, obesity… the list goes on.
Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) is the key substance in green tea that prohibits inflammation.