We read about inflammation in the news and talk about it in conversation. But is all inflammation bad? What does it do to us and is there anything we can do to reduce the amount in our bodies?
We can measure levels of inflammation in our bodies by using tests such as the CRP (C-reactive protein). CRP is a marker protein produced in the liver that can identify high levels of inflammation in the body.
I’m not talking about the inflammation you experience as a result of an acute injury, (which is painful, but short-lived). I’m talking about the kind that is chronic, extends throughout our bodies and has been linked to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes, just to name a few.
Today, instead of writing all about what it is, how it’s measured, and where it comes from, I’d like to focus on using food as medicine to help provide a solution. I’m talking about foods that are packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation in the body and are tasty too!
Here are my top anti-inflammatory food recommendations:
Fruits: Berries and Pomegranates
Why put the sweet favourite last? First on my list is one of the most delicious and amazing anti-inflammatory foods that can also double as dessert.
Berries and pomegranates are packed with fiber and antioxidant micronutrients such as vitamin C and manganese.
They are also very high in phytonutrients. Many antioxidant phytochemicals such as “anthocyanins” and “resveratrol” are found in these small and delicious fruits.
In fact, berries and pomegranates may be the best dietary sources of these incredible healthy compounds.
Vegetables: Broccoli and Bell Peppers
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that contains the antioxidant “sulforaphane.” This anti-inflammatory compound is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.
Bell peppers are one of the best sources of the antioxidants vitamin C and quercetin. Just make sure to choose red peppers over the other colours. Peppers that are any other colour are not fully ripe and won’t have the same anti-inflammatory effect.
See this recipe where both of these vegetables are included.
Healthy Fats: Avocado, Olive Oil, Fatty Fish
Fats can be either:
- inflammatory (i.e. trans or oxidized fats)
- neutral (i.e. saturated fats), or
- anti-inflammatory (i.e. omega-3s, EVOO)
This is why choosing the right fats is so important for your health.
The best anti-inflammatory fats are the unprocessed, unsaturated ones, that include omega-3s. These are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
Choose avocados, extra virgin olive oil, small-species fish (i.e. sardines and mackerel), wild fish (i.e. salmon), and seeds like chia, hemp, and flax.
Beverages: Green Tea
Green tea contains the anti-inflammatory compound called “epigallocatechin-3-gallate”, otherwise known as EGCG.
EGCG is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, and Alzheimer’s.
Drinking steeped green tea is great, but have you tried matcha green tea? It’s thought to contain even higher levels of antioxidants than regular green tea.
This list of anti-inflammatory foods would not be complete without the amazing spice turmeric.
Here are some recipes that use this spice:
Treats: Dark Chocolate
Full disclosure, this one is my favourite….
Dark chocolate, with at least 70% cocoa/cacao (or preferably over 85%) is packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidants called “flavanols”. Flavanols reduce the risk of heart disease by keeping your arteries healthy.
They’ve even been shown to prevent “neuro-inflammation” (inflammation of the brain and nerves). Reducing neuro-inflammation may help with long-term memory and reduce the risk of dementia and stroke.
Remember, I’m not talking about sugary candy bars; it’s important to look for the % cocoa/cacao. If the % is not listed, it’s most likely too high in sugar (even if it’s marketed as dark chocolate).
There are so many amazingly delicious and nutritious anti-inflammatory foods you can choose from. They range from colourful berries, vegetables, and spices, to healthy fats, and even cocoa.
You have so many reasons to add anti-inflammatory foods to your diet to get your daily “anti-inflammation” benefits. Do you have a personal favourite that I have not listed here? Send me a note or post a comment and let me know so that I can include it in a future post.