Inflammation can be painful, uncomfortable, and unsightly. Whether your inflammation causes arthritic pain, a swollen belly, or irritated skin, it all occurs for the same reason. Inflammation is the result of your body trying to oust a pathogenic material. Sometimes, like in the case of arthritis, that “pathogen” is actually your own body cells. The best way to fight inflammation using diet is to get a variety of antioxidants. So here are 10 antioxidant rich foods that are the best at fighting inflammation.
Ah, omega-3 fatty acids. A true staple fat of any healthy lifestyle. Fish are full of them as well as the equally important but less famous omega-6 fatty acid. These lipids are strong antioxidants and they help to dissolve other antioxidants like vitamin E so that they can be absorbed. Omega fats truly are the heroes of a balanced diet.
If you’re a vegetarian or if you’re just not a sushi person, healthy avocados are the best way to get your omega-3s. They’re full of healthy fats and oh so versatile. From salads to dips to baked egg dishes, avocados can wiggle their way into just about any dish.
Another great antioxidant is sulforaphane which is found in broccoli. Sulforophane actually reduces the levels of inflammation-causing materials in your bloodstream. This doesn’t mean you can eat all the unhealthy inflammatory foods you want as long as you chase them each with a shot of broccoli, but it does mean that delicious cheesy broccoli almondine isn’t so bad for you after all.
Mushrooms contain proteins called lectins which, in addition to their many, many other benefits are anti-inflammatory. When a protein is what you’re after from a food, it’s best to eat the food raw because cooking can break the protein down to the point where it’s almost unrecognizable by the body. That’s okay since raw mushrooms make a great addition to any veggie tray. But mushrooms that are lightly sauteed or broiled so that they retain most of their structure will provide plenty of in-tact proteins as well.
6) Green tea
Another well known antioxidant, green tea has been used for millennia as a both a medicine and an energy drink. the benefits of green tea lay in its catechins. Catechins are a secondary metabolite which means they are not integral to the survival of the organism they come from. So green tea can survive without its catechins which is all the more reason to get some use out of them by adding green tea to your anti-inflammation food lineup. Waste not, want not!
Berries are full of anthocyanins, disease-fighting antioxidants which may boost your levels of killer T-cells meaning that your body would need to send less blood to an infected area, resulting in lower levels of inflammation. Berries are an easy food to add to your daily diet. Smoothies, cereals, and even dessert are great places to find berries. Just remember to choose desserts which are sugar free, as inflammatory sugar will cancel out the effects of the berries.
Quercetin is a powerful antioxidant is present in sweet bell peppers, and hotter peppers like chilies contain ferulic acid and sinapic acid which reduce inflammation and many of the health detriments associated with aging. Making homemade roasted red peppers is really easy and surprisingly quick. Just broil them until the skin starts to turn black, then cover them with foil while they’re still hot to let them steam themselves. After about ten minutes the skin will slough off easily and you’re left with delicious, inflammation fighting, gourmet goodness.
3) Olive oil
Another great source of fatty acids, olive oil (a staple of the Mediterranean diet and Popeye’s awesome wife) is a tasty and healthy way to axe your inflammation. Be careful of it’s low smoke point though. Olive oil is best used as a salad dressing, a preservative for roasted vegetables, or for use in low temperature cooking like caramelizing onions.
The polyphenols in cocoa can help modulate inflammatory markers involved in atherosclerosis. Choose a dark chocolate that’s low in sugar and cocoa butter for the best anti-inflammatory benefit. A great way to add cocoa to your diet without all the extra less healthy ingredients that come with chocolate is to add a bit of pure cocoa powder to your coffee grounds before brewing. The cocoa will infuse with the coffee resulting in a sugar free mocha that tastes like a high-end cafe drink at a fraction of the cost.
The antioxidants in cherries are anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer. Double bonus! Fresh cherries are best but unsweetened dried cherries pack a lot of nutrients too and frozen is almost as good as fresh. Try to avoid canned cherries which can be packed in high sugar syrups. Or you can can your own cherries and control the amount of sugar that goes into them. Some home canning processes use fruit juice as a preservative, which means you get less refined and therefore healthier sugars.
When it comes to inflammation, as usual fresh fruits and vegetables seem to be the key to keeping healthy. If you have trouble with inflammation, try adding these foods to your diet. They’ll bring your inflammation down and bring you a bunch of other nutritional benefits too.