We all know what regular inflammation looks like. You get a cut, the skin around it becomes red and inflamed and eventually it heals and we forget that it ever happened. However, what most people, including myself, don’t think twice about is the chronic inflammation that goes on in our bodies every day. Our immune systems are continually responding to irritation from foreign matter from food and our environments, and while a certain amount of this is a good thing, a continuous stream with no relief, isn’t. Chronic inflammation is also a double whammy because we usually can’t even tell that anything is happening. Long-term inflammation in the body has been linked to heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, autoimmune diseases, metabolic syndrome, and especially scary, cancer. So, I wanted to know what I could do to try to lower inflammation in my body naturally, and it looks like food has a lot to do with it. Below are the eight must-eat now foods that lower inflammation that I will be focusing on.
Since food can either help increase or decrease chronic inflammation, I wanted to make sure I was eating the ones that would give me the biggest bang for my buck. While we will never know everything there is to know about anti-inflammatory foods, I think it is a good bet to stack my plate with as many of these as I can on a regular basis.
8 Foods That Lower Inflammation
This one is easy for me because I like to sneak baby spinach into smoothies and even baked goods, as well as make a salad out of it. Greens in general are always a good bet, but spinach boosts the immune system with its blend of antioxidants while suppressing inflammation.
I wrote about the positive effects of turmeric in my post 4 Health Benefits of Turmeric You Need to Know and what a great addition it is to any meal. The compound curcumin that is in turmeric that is the key to curbing most inflammation in the body.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil contains a compound called oleocanthal, plus monounsaturated fats, antioxidants and a small amount of plant-based omega-3s that all help lower inflammation. Use extra virgin olive oil as a salad dressing with a little balsamic vinegar or saute veggies with olive oil and a little turmeric for added benefit.
Also check out my post Want to Live Longer? These are the 6 Healthy Foods to Eat Now for more information on the health benefits of olive oil and the other foods you should be eating to live a longer, healthier life.
Broccoli (All Cruciferous Vegetables)
All cruciferous vegetables, with the most widely known one, broccoli, are a great addition to an anti-inflammatory diet. Cruciferous vegetables contain phytochemicals that help reign in inflammatory compounds that have been linked with cancer development. Try to incorporate cruciferous vegetables into your diet at least once a day. Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, kale, cabbage, and lots of leafy greens. Roasting them in the oven with a little olive oil is a great way to go.
Salmon has long been known as a super-star heath food for its EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids. These omega-3’s help to suppress inflammation and boost anti-inflammatory compounds in the body. When shopping for salmon, try to get sustainably sourced, wild-caught salmon for the most benefit.
As with olive oil, avocado contains healthy monounsaturated fats and antioxidants that help to reverse the effects of inflammatory foods. Add avocado to your sandwich, top a salad, or even mash and spread on whole grain toast for an easy, quick meal.
Almost all berries contain ellagitannins, or antioxidants, that help counteract free-radicals that can lead to inflammation. Add them to your morning oatmeal, salads or simply eat a handful as a snack.
Nightshade vegetables sometimes get a bad rap, but the lycopene in tomatoes makes them a nutritional powerhouse. Lycopene reduces inflammation, which helps to lower cancer and heart disease. Heating the tomatoes actually increases the absorption of lycopene in the body, so make a fresh tomato marinara sauce or roast them in the oven.
Like me, I’m sure you probably eat a lot of these foods that lower inflammation anyway, so it shouldn’t be super difficult to add them into your diet on a regular basis. The major benefit is that now I know I am eating to help lower my inflammation so my body does not have to work quite so hard.
Disclaimer: Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links and I will earn a commission if you purchase through those links. I recommend these products because they are products that I personally use or companies that I have found trustworthy.