When we hear the word inflammation, we think “Oh, no!” But inflammation is not always bad news. It’s the way our body fights infections and speeds healing.
But when our body’s immune response gets out of hands, it attacks healthy tissues. This leads to chronic inflammation, and that’s bad. Moreover, there is an undeniable connection between chronic inflammation and serious conditions like cancer.
So, what do we do to prevent inflammation? Take medicine? Of course, drugs are helpful, but there are always undesired side effects.
We need to look elsewhere. Nature can offer us many anti-inflammatory foods that are tasty and full of vitamins.
Here, I’ve compiled a short list of the best anti-inflammatory foods for you. I’m sure that you’ll find it entertaining and informative. Read and enjoy!
The 5 Best Anti-inflammatory Foods Everyone Should Eat
# 1 Salmon reduces the risk of heart disease
I bet that you have heard about omega-3 acids and that they are good for your body. But you don’t know why. Let me explain it to you.
Omega-3s lower the level of the triglycerides. These are the unhealthy blood fats that no one wants. At the same time, they raise the level of the good (HDL) cholesterol and improve blood pressure.
Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?
Unfortunately, the body can’t produce omega-3 acids on its own. That’s why it’s important to include them in your diet.
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Oily fishes are a vital source of fatty acids, including omega-3. But which fish to try?
Well, wild-caught salmon is one of your best choices. It contains two important omega-3s – eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). They stop inflammation right on the cellular level. They are also helpful for joint swelling and pain.
Salmon doesn’t contain only omega-3s. It’s also rich in Vitamin B12, D, B3, B6, selenium, protein, and phosphorus. All these have an anti-inflammatory effect.
As you can see, it’s an excellent idea to include fatty fish in your menu – at least once or twice a week. But be careful. Farm-grown salmon may not contain the same amount of nutrition as a wild-caught one. Moreover, it can have high levels of polychlorinated biphenyls. (Researchers linked them to cancer.)
Other fishes rich in omega-3s are anchovies, tuna, sardines and mackerel.
If you don’t like any of these fishes, don’t worry. Try fish-oil supplements. If you do that, be careful with your omega-6 intake. A diet too rich in these acids might cause inflammation.
#2 Kale helps you fight cancer
If you are not a veggie fan, it’s time to change that. Vegetables are full of important minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory flavonoids.
For example, bok choy (Chinese cabbage) has over 70 antioxidant substances. Celery lowers blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It also contains known anti-inflammatory agents like Vitamin A, K, C, and potassium.
Particularly beneficial and healthy are dark leafy vegetables. In general, they have iron and calcium in larger quantities than light colored ones. They also contain a lot of Vitamin E which protects the body from cytokines. (Cytokines are pro-inflammatory molecules.)
Let’s see what makes them so unique.
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Broccoli is rich in sulforaphane. This is an antioxidant that reduces the levels of cytokines and NF-kB protein. Both cause inflammation.
Researchers also link sulforaphane with cancer prevention in animal testing. But human trials are still inconclusive.
Kale also has many health benefits. A single cup of kale has a higher concentration of vitamin C than most vegetables and fruits. Even more than a whole orange. Can you believe it?
Kale is also a source of the vitamin K, sulforaphane, beta-carotene, and antioxidants. It also contains indole-3-carbinol, which has anti-cancer effects.
Broccoli and kale are also an invaluable source of calcium, potassium, and magnesium.
Calcium is essential for bone growth and development. Magnesium may decrease the risk of developing heart condition and diabetes. And potassium reduces blood pressure.
So, my advice? Eat your vegetables. Even if you don’t like them.
#3 Eat blueberries to lose weight
I have good news for all berry lovers. It turns out berries are not only tasty but also healthy. Let’s see why.
Strawberry, raspberry, and blueberry – they all contain anthocyanins. This is the antioxidant responsible for their bright color. But it also has powerful anti-inflammatory effects. According to researchers, anthocyanins protect the cells against inflammation. Some studies even suggest that anthocyanins are beneficial for preventing heart disease.
Anthocyanins are usually concentrated on the skin. The only exception is strawberries. They have anthocyanins in the flesh. That’s one more reason to love strawberries.
Dark-colored berries contain another strong anti-inflammatory. It’s called quercetin, part of the flavonoid group. Flavonoids scavenge free radicals, which can damage cells or tamper DNA.
That’s why it’s powerful against inflammation.
Blueberries also contain gallic acid, a potent antifungal and antiviral agent. Some studies even suggest that gallic acid slows breast cancer.
Don’t be so surprised.
Researchers at The Ohio State University also claim that berries show remarkable anti-cancer properties. In their animal trials rats that ate berries showed a lower chance of developing cancer.
Eating berries is not only an excellent choice for fighting inflammation. Blueberries have a low glycemic index (53). This means that your body absorbs blueberries slower than other high-index foods. They are also rich in fiber and low in calories. This can help you control your appetite and manage your weight.
So, if you get hungry – grab a berry!
#4 Walnuts could prevent type 2 diabetes
If you love to eat potato chips, get rid of them and try walnuts.
Nuts are an excellent source of healthy fats. They also contain our good old friends – the omega-3 acids.
Walnuts are also rich in alpha-linolenic acid, a type of omega-3 acid. Studies have determined that it reduces the C-reactive protein. This is an inflammation marker linked to cardiovascular disease and arthritis.
Walnuts also contain phytonutrients. What’s that, you ask?
Phytonutrients are natural chemicals found in plants. They protect the plant from threats like germs and fungi. And they could prevent disease when we consume them. For example, metabolic syndrome, heart conditions and type 2 diabetes.
Besides that, walnuts contain some hard to find phytonutrients that are linked with lower risk of prostate and breast cancer.
Almonds are also a good choice if you don’t like walnuts. They are good for you blood sugar and weight management, and they are rich in fiber and vitamin E.
A review published in “Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry” also supports the anti-inflammation properties of almonds. You can read more about it here:
Other benefits of eating nuts include low cholesterol and improved blood pressure.
So, find a way to include them in your diet. Here’s a healthy recipe that you can try.
5# Add a little spice for health
You might find it strange, but spices also have anti-inflammatory properties. Let’s take a look at:
Turmeric is what gives the curry its bright yellow color. People have used it both as an ingredient and medicine for centuries. Let’s see why you should add it to your diet.
The active compound in turmeric is curcumin. Researchers have found that it has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect. It blocks the NF-kB protein that triggers the inflammation process.
It also has anti-pain properties. Studies suggest it’s even more potent than aspirin or ibuprofen.
Curcumin also has an antioxidant and anti-anxiety effect. It can even slow the growth of tumor cells. That’s why some researchers believe turmeric can be the key to finding a cure for cancer. For better results, consume turmeric with black pepper. The black pepper has a compound called piperine. It helps your body to absorb curcumin better.
Ginger contains powerful anti-inflammatory called gingerols, shogaols, and paradols. These compounds are just as useful as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.
Ginger has an anti-blood-clotting ability. It’s also excellent for indigestion, nausea, stomach ulcers, and boosting immunity.
But make sure to consume it fresh or well dried.
Capsaicin is what makes the pepper spicy. But that’s what makes it such a good anti-inflammatory. It’s often used in creams and ointments to numb pain. It blocks the substance P, which transmits pain signals to our brain.
Cayenne is also rich in flavonoids and carotenoids, which protect the cells from damage.
But you should be aware that cayenne peppers are part of the nightshade family. Some doctors believe that they can aggravate conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
Cinnamon improves insulin sensitivity, lowers blood sugar levels, and reduces risks of heart disease.
Cinnamaldehyde, one of the active compounds in cinnamon, is useful for fighting infections. It can slow the growth of bacteria like Listeria and Salmonella. It also suppresses the NF-kB proteins and prevents platelets from clumping.
Animal trials also suggest that cinnamon has potential anti-cancer properties.
Sage and rosemary:
Sage improves memory, concentration and lessens anxiety. It also has anti-viral, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and even anti-cancer properties.
Rosemary also has the same anti-inflammatory effects like sage.
The uncooked rosemary contains apigenin and diosmin. Apigenin slows the growth of pancreatic cancer cells, while diosmin is good for hemorrhoids.
Now, what are your next steps?
As you can see, many foods can help you in your fight with inflammation. But remember that everyone is different. What works for you, may not work for someone else. The important thing is –
Don’t give up! Try new anti-inflammatory foods until you find the one that makes you feel better.
Do you agree or disagree with the list? Which food changed your life? Please, share your experience. I hope that I’ve been useful to you. Like and share the article if you have enjoyed reading it.
Author Bio: Clare Kendry
Clare Kendry is the Founder/Editor of eHomeRemedies.com. Over the past decade, she has completed a masters degree (MSc) in Personalised Nutrition and opened a nutritional medicine clinic. Her degree demanded a very high level of research and writing skills and has allowed her, as a practitioner, to share the latest evidence-base nutritional research with her patients.
Being a health enthusiast herself, she is aware of the required language that appeals to the general public, when they come to look for nutrition and health information. As well as writing fitness and nutrition articles, she's also passionate in creating personalized nutrition plans, e-books and recipes.
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