Almonds are also very satiating, so even though they’re a little higher in calories than many other anti-inflammatory foods, eating a handful of almonds may help you stick with a healthy weight loss program.
Source: Nishi S, Kendall CW, Gascoyne AM, Bazinet RP, Bashyam B, Lapsley KG, Augustin LS, Sievenpiper JL, Jenkins DJ. “Effect of almond consumption on the serum fatty acid profile: a dose-response study.” Br J Nutr. 2014 Oct 14;112(7):1137-46.
Blueberries contain large amounts of polyphenols that trigger antioxidant activity and may help to prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease. These phytochemicals, including flavonoids, anthocyanidins, phenolic acids, and tannins, prevent and repair cellular damage done by free radicals. Laboratory studies show the chemicals in blueberries may also prevent cancer by slowing down the growth of cells, and reducing inflammation.
They’re also low in calories and add vitamin C, vitamin E and fiber to your daily diet. And don’t forget they’re also absolutely delicious.
Source: Seeram NP. “Berry fruits for cancer prevention: current status and future prospects.” J Agric Food Chem. 2008 Feb 13;56(3):630-5.
Carrots contain beta-carotene, which your body can convert to vitamin A, plus it’s a powerful antioxidant in its own right. Carrots also contain zeaxanthin and lutein, which are also related to vitamin A. Eating a diet rich in these antioxidants may help to reduce your risk of cancer by preventing damage to the healthy cells of your body.
Since carrots are low in calories and a good source of fiber, they can also help you lose weight if necessary – important because obesity is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some forms of cancer.
Source: Butalla AC, Crane TE, Patil B, Wertheim BC, Thompson P, Thomson CA. “Effects of a carrot juice intervention on plasma carotenoids, oxidative stress, and inflammation in overweight breast cancer survivors.” Nutr Cancer. 2012 Jan 31.
Dry beans, such as navy beans, kidney beans, pinto beans and black beans, are an excellent anti-inflammatory source of plant protein, minerals, B complex vitamins and vitamin K. They’re also chock-full of beneficial fiber and they contain polyphenols that work as antioxidants. Research suggests dry beans may provide health benefits and help prevent some types of heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure, as well as reduce inflammation.
Source: Bouchenak M, Lamri-Senhadji M.”Nutritional quality of legumes, and their role in cardiometabolic risk prevention: a review.” J Med Food. 2013 Mar;16(3):185-98.
Kale is an excellent source of vitamins A, C and K, and a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and vitamin C, while being low in sodium. It’s also low in calories and has a bit of fiber. Kale contains lutein and zeaxanthin, which are related to vitamin A and may help lower your risk of developing cataracts and macular degeneration. In addition, lutein may help prevent atherosclerosis.
Kale, along with the other cruciferous vegetables, contains bitter substances called glucosinolates, which work as an antioxidants. Kales is a true nutritional powerhouse.
Source:Herr I, Baachler MW. “Dietary constituents of broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables: implications for prevention and therapy of cancer.” Cancer Treat Rev. 2010 Aug;36(5):377-83.
Olive oil is an essential component of the Mediterranean diet, which has been linked to heart health and longevity. It’s rich in monounsaturated fats that are good for your blood vessels and has polyphenols that work as antioxidants to protect the cells in your body. Olive oil helps reduce inflammation, reduces high cholesterol and it’s possible that some of the polyphenols may help prevent some forms of cancer.
Sources: Damasceno NR1, Pérez-Heras A, Serra M, Cofán M, Sala-Vila A, Salas-Salvadó J, Ros E. “Crossover study of diets enriched with virgin olive oil, walnuts or almonds. Effects on lipids and other cardiovascular risk markers..” Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2011 Jun;21 Suppl 1:S14-20.
Psaltopoulou T1, Kosti RI, Haidopoulos D, Dimopoulos M, Panagiotakos DB. “Olive oil intake is inversely related to cancer prevalence: a systematic review and a meta-analysis of 13,800 patients and 23,340 controls in 19 observational studies.” Lipids Health Dis. 2011 Jul 30;10:127.
Oranges are an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium, and they also contain fiber, calcium and folate. The fiber and folate in oranges may help keep your heart healthy, and the vitamin C is important for immune system function, strong connective tissue and healthy blood vessels. Oranges and orange juice are excellent additions to an anti-inflammatory diet.
Source:Foroudi S, Potter AS, Stamatikos A, Patil BS, Deyhim F. “Drinking orange juice increases total antioxidant status and decreases lipid peroxidation in adults.” J Med Food. 2014 May;17(5):612-7
Salmon contains large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids — more than any other type of fish or seafood. Studies suggest people who have a higher intake of these fatty acids may be less likely to suffer from dry eyes and it’s also good for the heart because the healthy fats help reduce inflammation and keep cholesterol in check. It’s so good, the American Heart Association suggests you eat fatty fish, like salmon, at least two times each week.
Salmon is also a good source of an antioxidant called astaxanthin.
Source: American Heart Association. “Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids.” Accessed January 6, 2015. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Fish-and-Omega-3-Fatty-Acids_UCM_303248_Article.jsp.
Spinach is one of the best known of all the anti-inflammatory superfoods. It contains lutein, which is related to vitamin A and beta carotene. Research shows that people who eat green leafy vegetables, like spinach, may have a decreased risk of macular degeneration. Spinach also gives you iron, vitamin K and folate, and it is very low in calories, so it’s perfect for weight loss diets.
Source: Tan JS, Wang JJ, Flood V, Rochtchina E, Smith W, Mitchell P. “Dietary antioxidants and the long-term incidence of age-related macular degeneration: the Blue Mountains Eye Study.” Ophthalmology. 2008 Feb;115(2):334-41.
Strawberries are delicious, juicy and sweet — and to make it even better, they’re also good for your health. Strawberries are low in calories, high in fiber, and they contain vitamins and minerals your body needs to function normally, including a lot of vitamin C. They also have anti-inflammatory properties and plenty of potential health benefits.
Actually, just about all berries are good for you because the pigments that give them their color also contain antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation.
Source: Giampieri F, Alvarez-Suarez JM, Mazzoni L, Romandini S, Bompadre S, Diamanti J, Capocasa F, Mezzetti B, Quiles JL, Ferreiro MS, Tulipani S, Battino M. “The potential impact of strawberry on human health.” Nat Prod Res. 2013 Mar;27(4-5):448-55.
Swiss chard is so beautiful and delicious — it’s a wonderful (and colorful) leafy green vegetable to add to your anti-inflammatory shopping list. Swiss chard is an excellent source of vitamins A and K, a good source of several minerals and very low in calories. Research suggests that Swiss chard may have flavonoids that work as antioxidants and reduce inflammation.
Source:Ninfali P, Angelino D. “Nutritional and functional potential of Beta vulgaris cicla and rubra.” Fitoterapia. 2013 Sep;89:188-99.
Walnuts are a good source of healthy fats, protein, vitamin E, minerals and phytochemicals called sterols. They also contain monounsaturated fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids that are good for your heart. Walnuts are also energy-dense, so you may need to watch your portion-size, but, even though they are high in calories, eating a handful of walnuts can help you feel full longer and actually help you lose wight.
Source: Kris-Etherton PM. “Walnuts decrease risk of cardiovascular disease: a summary of efficacy and biologic mechanisms.” J Nutr. 2014 Apr;144(4 Suppl):547S-554S.
So when you are shopping for food next time check your list and include some anti-inflammatory foods.
Aout the writer – Shereen Lehman is a writer, instructor, and nutritionist, and she’s been the About.com nutrition expert since 2004.
Shereen is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the Association of Health Care Journalists. She is a member of the editorial board for Natural Medicines, an organization that systematically reviews scientific evidence on complementary and alternative medicine.
For the Healing Place Medfield’s free report “Proven Alternative Ways to Heal Common Chronic Digestive Problems: What Your Doctor Doesn’t Know Can Keep You From Healing” click here.