14 Anti-Inflammatory Foods That You Can Easily Incorporate Into Your Diet
If you've ever woken up after a (very fun and totally deserved) junk food fest with puffy eyes and swollen hands, you're already aware of the inflammatory effects that food can have on your body. One overly salty meal and my face puffs up like I've been crying for days. Just like certain foods can cause a full-body bloat, others can do the exact opposite. Whether you're tweaking your diet for health purposes or simply trying to de-puff, these 14 foods will kill inflammation the fastest.
If you have a health condition that causes chronic inflammation, like rheumatoid arthritis, following an anti-inflammatory diet can be an extremely helpful tool to use alongside your doctor's treatment recommendations. This, according to WebMD, means reducing or cutting out foods that are especially greasy, salty, highly processed, or overly sweet. (Yes, I know, these are some of the yummiest foods... but moderation!) Additionally, incorporating the following foods can actually help reduce and prevent further inflammation. However, revamping your diet isn't the only way to achieve this. Researchers have found that both exercising regularly and getting enough sleep are both natural ways to decrease your body's inflammatory response, according to Healthline.
Of course, sometimes new foods are easier to fit into your busy life than exercise and sleep. In that case, here are some of the best anti-inflammatory staples to stock up on.
Looking for an easy snack? As it turns out, munching on a handful of berries, like raspberries, blueberries, or strawberries, can help reduce inflammation. The antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables, called flavonoids, inhibit cellular damage which ultimately results in reduced inflammation, according to an article for Penn State Extension written by food, families and health extension educator Karen Thomas. "Of the fruits, berries are very high in flavonoids and are known to have beneficial effects on inflammation and cell damage."
Grapes are another snack food to keep around, and not just because they're delicious. Don't worry if you've got a color preference, because red, purple, and green grapes are all shown to be beneficial. "Grapes contain a mix of antioxidants, including flavonoids and resveratrol, which has anti-inflammatory properties and is a potent antioxidant," stated Frances Largeman-Roth, registered dietician, in an article for U.S. News.
3. Green Tea
It seems like green tea is lauded as a miracle drink for all sorts of maladies, but what's the science behind its effect on inflammation? Green tea contains polyphenols, which are antioxidants that can combat cell-damaging free radicals in your body, according to Healthline. "According to the Arthritis Foundation, polyphenols have strong anti-inflammatory properties," Healthline explains, and green tea is a particularly good source of it.
4. Dark Chocolate
I'm always pleased when I find a new excuse to eat chocolate. In two studies conducted at the Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center and published in ScienceDaily, researchers observed that, "The flavonoids found in cacao are extremely potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, with known mechanisms beneficial for brain and cardiovascular health." Note that these studies specifically looked at chocolate bars containing a high concentration of cacao (a minimum of 70 percent), so choose your next treat wisely.
You were probably forced to eat your broccoli as a child, but now you've got a reason to willingly incorporate it into your diet. "Broccoli, high in sulforaphane, fights inflammation by reducing your levels of cytokines, research shows," according to Reader's Digest. Cytokines are proteins released by cells that can have inflammatory effects, according to research. There are a ton of different ways to eat broccoli, so experiment and find a way you enjoy. (Pro-tip: Broccoli dipped in hummus is excellent.)
6. Salmon & Tuna
There's nothing fishy about the claim that adding fatty fish, like salmon and tuna, to your diet can help calm inflammation. Rich with the omega-3 sources EPA and DHA, digging into a tuna salad or a beautiful salmon fillet is a particularly healthy choice for anyone struggling with excess inflammation. "Omega-3s interfere with immune cells called leukocytes and enzymes known as cytokines, which are both key players in the body’s inflammatory response," stated the Arthritis Foundation.
Great news for fellow avocado addicts: adding this superfood to your diet (or if you're like me, every meal) can result in decreased levels of inflammation. "Avocados are a great source of healthy monounsaturated fat and antioxidants, which can dampen your body’s inflammatory response," according to Everyday Health.
8. Leafy Greens
I hope you're sitting down for this shocking announcement: it turns out that kale, spinach, and other leafy green veggies are really good for us. OK, so maybe that's not shocking, but if you're ever looking for another excuse to add more produce to your diet, here's one: "Vegetables, like kale, chard, bok choy, and silverbeet are anti-inflammatory foods because they’re packed with anti-inflammatory carotenoids," Reader's Digest stated. Personally, I like to toss a handful of kale or spinach into my fruit smoothies to get a full serving without having to eat a salad everyday.
Throw some mushrooms into your next stir fry or pasta dish, because they're apparently "rich in anti-inflammatory components," according to an article published in Food Chemistry. Try substituting mushrooms into a dish in place of meat — you might be surprised at how little you end up missing it!
If you already snack on your favorite nuts on the regular, keep up this good habit: "Studies have also associated nuts with reduced markers of inflammation and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes," stated an article in Harvard Women's Health Watch. Nuts are also pretty filling, making them the ideal snack to tide you off between meals.
11. Citrus Fruits
There are a couple different ways that citrus fruits, like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits, can fight inflammation. Their high water content will help keep you hydrated — helpful in reducing inflammation by flushing toxins, according to Arthritis.org. And before you ditch your favorite citrus' skin, consider this: "Their inflammation-fighting properties are found in the skin as well as the juice and flesh—so don't forget to use that zest!" encouraged Prevention.
12. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
If you're ever choosing between butter and extra virgin olive oil, go for the EVOO. Scientific research has discovered a whole host of healthy effects of it, with reduced inflammation among them. "The main anti-inflammatory effects are mediated by the antioxidants. Key among them is oleocanthal, which has been shown to work similarly to ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory drug," stated Healthline. Make sure to read labels carefully at the grocery store though, as these benefits are limited to extra virgin olive oil that hasn't been diluted with other oils.
Studies have found that a variety peppers contain antioxidants with anti-inflammatory effects, specifically bell peppers and chili peppers, according to Healthline. The sinapic and ferulic acids found in chili peppers can actually lead to healthier aging, the site reported.
As it turns out, chopping onions is worth the tears. "Quercetin, a flavonoid in onions, helps inhibit inflammation-causing agents at play in arthritis," explained a Health article. Opt for red or yellow onions or shallots instead of white or sweet onions to reap the most benefits.