13 Foods That Can Keep Inflammation in Check
Inflammation can be helpful in the short-term and can protect the body against injury and illness. But when it’s chronic, it can contribute to a wide array of health problems. Your diet can play a huge role in both increasing and reducing inflammation, and some foods have powerful anti-inflammatory benefits.
Get plenty of these foods in your life to keep inflammation in check!
Cherries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins, which have been shown in studies to have immense 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!
Berries also contain anthocyanins. In a study involving men, consuming blueberries every day encouraged more natural killer cells to be produced. In another study, strawberries helped to lower inflammatory markers linked to heart disease - even for people who were overweight.
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. Read the nutrition to avoid unwanted additives like sugar, preservatives and flavors. Better yet, make your own by simply blending your own.
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.
Along with other cruciferous vegetables, broccoli is linked to a lower risk of heart disease and may also be able to protect against some types of cancer. Broccoli contains an antioxidant called sulforaphane, which can protect the body against the harmful effects of oxidative stress.
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.
Reishi is one of my favorite mushrooms. They support the body’s detoxification pathway, help to balance the nervous system, support adrenal gland health and calm the stress response. Reishi also helps to boost the immune system and support your microbiome by feeding the good bacteria in your gut.
Both bell peppers and chili peppers 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.
Chili peppers 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 huge 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 a common staple in the Mediterranean diet and it’s hugely 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 maximize the antioxidants.
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. My favorite is 85% dark chocolate.
It’s not only food that can help lower inflammation levels; your choice of drink can too! Green tea is linked to a ton of health benefits, from lower risk of heart disease to protecting against Alzheimer ’s disease. A lot of this is down to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits of epigallocatechin-3- gallate (EGCG). EGCG is known to reduce pro-inflammatory cytokines.
Don't underestimate the power that food choices can have on your overall health and wellness.