The Power of Anti-Inflammatory Foods

The Foods You Should be Prioritizing.

By Aimee Rein

Right now we all want to keep ourselves as healthy as possible and support our immune systems.  Adhering to an anti-inflammatory diet and incorporating fruits and vegetables with all the colors of the rainbow is essential.

Acute or chronic inflammation, no matter how it manifests (an infection, a broken ankle, or rheumatoid arthritis), can present in many different ways, but nearly all disease states have the same underlying biochemical etiology which is a pro-inflammatory state. This pro-inflammatory state, particularly in chronic disease, is more often than not induced by eating unhealthy foods such as high-fructose corn syrup, artificial trans fats (like margarine), refined carbs (i.e. white bread, pasta, doughnuts, soda), excessive alcohol intake, and processed meats. And guess what? Stress and lack of sleep also create inflammation. If you reduce inflammation, your immune system functions better and that positions your body to not only prevent and withstand infection, but also to heal more quickly.

Below you will find a selection of anti-inflammatory foods that are high in various nutrients and phytonutrients.  These foods allow your gut to thrive. For many reasons, having a healthy gut prevents disease and helps fight off illness. Eating clean foods always matters, but this week you can try to incorporate these.

Amazing Anti-Inflammatory Foods:

Berries: Berries, particularly the dark-blue or purplish kind are an excellent source of fiber and potent antioxidants that protect against free radical damage. They contain polyphenols that decrease inflammation as well as antioxidants known as anthocyanins, which are compounds that reduce inflammation and boost immunity.

Fatty Fish (salmon, sardines, anchovies): A great source of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA which reduce inflammation.

Brassicas (cruciferous vegetables): Broccoli, watercress, arugula, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and radishes. These vegetables are all rich in antioxidants with powerful anti-inflammatory effects.

Avocados: These are often referred to as brain food.  They are a healthy source of high quality fat and potassium, as well as glutathione and Vitamin E (both potent antioxidants). The monounsaturated fat contained in avocados also increases the body’s ability to absorb phytonutrients in other fruits and vegetables that offer antioxidant protection.

Green Tea:  Green tea contains numerous phytochemicals and powerful antioxidants that decrease oxidative damage to the mitochondria in the brain. Green tea has a high EGCG content which is a substance that reduces pro-inflammatory cytokine production and damage to the fatty acids in cells.

Mushrooms: Rich in selenium, copper and B vitamins. They contain phenols and other antioxidants that provide anti-inflammatory protection. Best to be eaten raw or lightly cooked to reap their full anti-inflammatory potential.

Pomegranate Seeds: One of the richest sources of antioxidants with additional anti-inflammatory benefits. They are also a significant source of polyphenols that are essential in brain health.

Turmeric: This spice contains a powerful anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin. Combined with black pepper it decreases the inflammatory marker CRP.

Olive oil (cold-pressed, unfiltered/cloudy, extra-virgin): EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) is a high-quality oil, rich in polyphenols and an anti-oxidant called oleocanthal, that acts as free-radical scavengers, protecting the brain from inflammation.

Dark Chocolate and Cacao:  Packed with antioxidants and flavanols that reduce inflammation.  Choose dark chocolate that contains at least 70% cacao or greater to reap these anti-inflammatory benefits.

Tomatoes: This fruit is high in vitamin C, potassium and lycopene. Lycopene is a carotenoid, a nutrient that is particularly beneficial for reducing pro-inflammatory compounds and protecting against cancer.

Peppers: Chili peppers and bell peppers are rich in quercetin, sinapic, and ferulic acid along with other antioxidants with strong anti-inflammatory effects.

Cherries and Grapes: Sweet and dark cherries contain antioxidants, such as anthocyanins and catechins, which fight inflammation. Grapes are one of the best sources of resveratrol, which reduces inflammation and your risk of several diseases.

Quick and Easy Recipes:

Scrambled Pasture-Raised Eggs with Spinach, Mushrooms, Avocado, Basil and Sweet Potato Toast

Turkey Chili

Overnight Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding

The Best Chocolate Avocado Pudding

Kale Salad with Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Roasted Vegetable and Sardine Salad

Avocado Toast with Radishes, Dill and Microgreens

Slow Baked Chili Salmon over Zoodles with Shiitake Mushrooms

Sauteed Asparagus, Shiitake Mushrooms, Arugula and Spinach

Wild Mushroom Soup

Creamy Chocolate Smoothie

Beetroot Zinger

Gluten-Free Blueberry Chia Muffins

Epic Chickpea Pasta with Basil Pesto

Honey-Balsamic Glazed Brussel Sprouts