Anti-inflammatory refers to the property of a substance or treatment that reduces inflammation or swelling.
Inflammation is associated with a number of chronic conditions, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease, obesity, and insulin resistance. There also is evidence that chronic inflammation may be associated with depression and may predispose individuals to dementia. Reducing inflammation may help prevent or treat these conditions. Diet has been shown to modulate inflammation.
What are Anti-inflammatory foods?
Anti-inflammatory foods include most colorful fruits and vegetables, oily fish (which contain higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids), nuts, seeds, and certain spices, such as ginger, garlic and cayenne.
- Eat Sparingly
- Unsweetened dried fruit, dark chocolate, fruit sorbet
- Dark chocolate provides polyphenols with antioxidant activity. Choose dark chocolate with at least 70 percent pure cocoa and have an ounce a few times a week. Fruit sorbet is a better option than other frozen desserts.
- Optional, no more than 1-2 glasses per day
- Any red wine
- Red wine has beneficial antioxidant activity. Limit intake to no more than 1-2 servings per day. If you do not drink alcohol, do not start.
- 2-4 cups per day
- White, green, oolong teas
- Tea is rich in catechins, antioxidant compounds that reduce inflammation. Purchase high-quality tea and learn how to correctly brew it for maximum taste and health benefits.
Herbs and Spices
- Unlimited amounts
- Turmeric, ginger and garlic (dried and fresh), chili peppers, basil, cinnamon, rosemary, thyme
- Use these herbs and spices generously to season foods. Turmeric and ginger are powerful, natural anti-inflammatory agents.
- 1-2 servings a week
- Natural cheeses, organic, high-quality dairy, omega-3 enriched eggs, skinless poultry and lean meats.
- In general, try to reduce consumption of animal foods. If you eat chicken, choose organic, cage-free chicken and remove the skin and associated fat. Use organic, high-quality dairy products. If you eat eggs, choose omega-3 enriched eggs (made by feeding hens a flax-meal-enriched diet), or eggs from free-range chickens.
- Unlimited amounts
- Shiitake, enokidake, maitake, oyster mushrooms (and wild mushrooms if available)
- These mushrooms contain compounds that enhance immune function. Never eat mushrooms raw, and minimize consumption of common commercial button mushrooms (including crimini and portobello).
Whole Soy Foods
- 1-2 servings per day
- Tofu, tempeh, edamame, soy nuts, soymilk
- Soy foods contain isoflavones that have antioxidant activity and are protective against cancer. Choose whole soy foods over fractionated foods like isolated soy protein powders and imitation meats made with soy isolate.
Fish and Seafood
- 2-6 servings per week
- Wild Alaskan salmon (especially sockeye), herring, sardines, and black cod (sablefish)
- These fish are rich in omega-3 fats, which are strongly anti-inflammatory. If you choose not to eat fish, take a molecularly distilled fish oil supplement, 2-3 grams per day.
- 5-7 servings per day
- Extra virgin olive oil, and expeller-pressed canola oil. Other sources of healthy fats include nuts (especially walnuts), avocados, and seeds – including hemp seeds and freshly ground flaxseed. Omega-3 fats are also found in cold water fish, omega-3 enriched eggs, and whole soy foods. High-oleic sunflower or safflower oils may also be used, as well as walnut and hazelnut oils in salads and dark roasted sesame oil as a flavoring for soups and stir-fries
- Healthy fats are those rich in either monounsaturated or omega-3 fats. Extra-virgin olive oil is rich in polyphenols with antioxidant activity and canola oil contains a small fraction of omega-3 fatty acids.
- 3-5 servings a day
- Brown rice, basmati rice, wild rice, buckwheat, groats, barley, quinoa, steel-cut oats
- Whole grains digest slowly, reducing frequency of spikes in blood sugar that promote inflammation. “Whole grains” means grains that are intact or in a few large pieces, not whole wheat bread or other products made from flour.
Pasta (al dente)
- 2-3 servings per week
- Organic pasta, rice noodles, bean thread noodles, and part whole wheat and buckwheat noodles like Japanese udon and soba
- Pasta cooked al dente (when it has “tooth” to it) has a lower glycemic index than fully-cooked pasta. Low-glycemic-load carbohydrates should be the bulk of your carbohydrate intake to help minimize spikes in blood glucose levels.
Beans and Legumes
- 1-2 servings per day
- Beans like Anasazi, adzuki and black, as well as chickpeas, black-eyed peas and lentils.
- Beans are rich in folic acid, magnesium, potassium and soluble fiber. They are a low-glycemic-load food. Eat them well-cooked either whole or pureed into spreads like hummus.
- 4-5 servings per day minimum
- Lightly cooked dark leafy greens (spinach, collard greens, kale, Swiss chard), cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, bok choy and cauliflower), carrots, beets, onions, peas, squashes, sea vegetables and washed raw salad greens
- Vegetables are rich in flavonoids and carotenoids with both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Go for a wide range of colors, eat them both raw and cooked.
- 3-4 servings per day
- Raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, oranges, pink grapefruit, red grapes, plums, pomegranates, blackberries, cherries, apples, and pears – all lower in glycemic load than most tropical fruits.
- Fruits are rich in flavonoids and carotenoids with both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. Go for a wide range of colors; choose fruit that is fresh in season or frozen.
- Throughout the day
- Water is the best choice if you must have something else then choose, beverages made with water, such as unsweetened tea, sparkling water, or water with a small amount of fruit juice for flavor
- Water is vital for overall functioning of the body.