Inflammation has been linked with bodily issues from acne to allergies to autoimmune conditions. And, because you really are what you eat, diet plays a role in fighting and preventing inflammation.
The typical American diet is full of foods that induce inflammation including fried fare, refined sugars and flours and synthetic sweeteners. If you're consuming these items frequently, it's not surprising that you're in pain. Plus, an inflammatory diet can promote weight gain, build belly fat and cause fatigue.
While some foods can make inflammation worse, plenty of foods can act as anti-inflammatories, soothing swollen joints, finger pain and rheumatoid arthritis symptoms. Here are some of the top foods that have been found to help fight inflammation. Add these inflammation-busting foods to your diet today.
Researchers found that a oleocanthal, a chemical in extra-virgin olive oil, acts like ibuprofen, preventing the production of inflammatory enzymes. Drizzle some on veggies and salad. Or use it to flavor bread instead of butter. Get some olive oil into your day with this Angel Hair Tuna with Red Chili Flakes, Lemon and Olive Oil.
Berries get their red (and blue) hues from chemicals called anthocyanins. They fight inflammation just like aspirin. In addition to cherries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and blackberries are anti-inflammatories. The tart fruit will also help you sleep better; cherries are one of the only natural food sources of sleep-regulating melatonin. Try this Red Fruit Trio Oatmeal. Cherries, raspberries and strawberries comprise the tasty red trio of this dish—and, as a bonus, the fiber in oatmeal may also help fight inflammation.
Broccoli contains glutathione, an antioxidant that may protect against arthritis and prevent inflammation. It's also found in asparagus, cabbage, potatoes, tomatoes and cauliflower. Broccoli is high in vitamin K, which is found in many leafy green vegetables. It can help regulate your body's inflammatory responses. The Korean-style marinade and super-thin slicing make this Korean Beef Broccoli's meat tender and flavorful, even when well done. For best results, slice the beef when it's partially frozen and stir-fry until just cooked through. If you're craving spicy food, add some red pepper flakes to the pan.
Spinach is rich in carotenoids (which give green and orange produce their color) and vitamins C, E and K. All of that has been found to protect the body from pro-inflammatory cytokines. Other good-for-inflammation green leafy veggies are kale, chard and bok choy, which are full of carotenoids. Plus, iron-rich spinach is great if you need an energy boost. When you don't have enough iron, you have less oxygen flowing to the brain—and that can leave you tired. Add spinach to your morning smoothie, omelet or frittata. Eat a spinach salad at lunch to help prevent an afternoon energy slump, and snack on Artichoke Spinach Hummus. Try Spinach-Stuffed Chicken for dinner; double it to serve at a dinner party. Make a side salad for a complete meal.
Fish like salmon and trout contain omega-3 fatty acids, powerful anti-inflammatories. These fish are one of the best sources of this class of polyunsaturated fats. When you eat salmon, it can help your waistline, too: In one study, people on a low-calorie diet that incorporated three servings of salmon per week lost about 2.2 pounds more weight over a month than people on a low-calorie diet without fish. Experts say that wild-caught Pacific salmon is your best choice. Wild-caught means less mercury buildup and fewer antibiotics and hormones, and the fish get to swim freely. The wild variety will cost more than farmed, but it's worth the expense. This Salmon and Vegetable Bake steams in parchment paper packets and makes a healthy meal, especially for those with heart disease or diabetes.
Studies have found that this tropical fruit may reduce pain in people with osteoarthritis in the knees and rheumatoid arthritis and may lower swelling in those with carpal tunnel syndrome. The fruit is brimming with bromelain, an anti-inflammatory that's been shown to lower the risk of strokes and heart attacks, help digest protein and boost fertility. It also boasts vitamin C and manganese. Eat it fresh, grilled, broiled or frozen to reap its benefits. All parts of the pineapple have bromelain, but much of it's in the tough core. If you have a powerful blender or juicer, you can try eating (or drinking) the core. You'll love this Kale Almond Pineapple Smoothie as a great snack or lunchtime treat.