Inflammation….unfortunately, it’s not just a hot and sexy catch phrase that attracts your attention. It’s a super-bad fact of our chronically busy and stressful lives.
The past several years, the research into inflammation has shown that it plays a key role in many chronic health issues including obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Type 2 Diabetes, dementia, metabolic syndrome, vascular disease, blood clots, and more.
Reviewing the research into what causes inflammation would take days and a multi-post series! It really is that complicated! So, for the sake of time and simplicity – let’s focus on some foods packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidants that are proven to help reduce it.
Anti-Inflammatory Food #1: Berries, Grapes, & Cherries
How lucky is it that some of our favorite treats are some of the best anti-inflammatory foods?
Berries, grapes, and cherries are packed with fiber and antioxidant vitamins (such as Vitamin C). Not to mention their phytochemicals (phyto = plant), such as resveratrol, also act as anti-inflammatories.
Anti-Inflammatory Food #2: Broccoli and Peppers
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that contains the antioxidant “sulforaphane.” This anti-inflammatory compound is associated with reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.
Bell peppers, on the other hand, are one of the best sources of Vitamin C and the antioxidant quercetin. The anti-inflammatory effects are best found in RED bell peppers and aren’t found in quite the same levels in other peppers or peppers that aren’t fully ripe.
Anti-Inflammatory Food #3: Healthy Fats
Hopefully, you don’t still have the anti-fat mentality and cringe when you hear the term “healthy fats.” Sure, there are some fats that PROMOTE inflammation, such as trans fats. But there are also plenty of fats that are anti-inflammatory.
The best anti-inflammatory fats are the unsaturated ones, including Omega-3s. These fats are linked to reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
You can opt for fresh avocados, quality olive oil (or other specialty oils…my favorite is avocado or macadamia nut oil), fatty fish such salmon and sardines. You can also obtain Omega-3s from seeds like chia, hemp, and flax.
Anti-Inflammatory Food #4: Green Tea
Green tea contains the anti-inflammatory compound known as ECGC (I’ll let you google that). This compound is linked to reduced risk of heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, and Alzheimer’s disease.
L-theanine is another compound of green tea that has many benefits, including mood elevation and relaxation.
Drinking green tea is great, but have you ever considered taking this one step farther and drinking matcha green tea? Matcha tea is thought to contain much higher levels of antioxidants than other green teas. Here’s my favorite!
Anti-Inflammatory Food #5: Turmeric
Hopefully, you already knew this amazing food would make the list!
Turmeric is an herb that contains the antioxidant curcumin. Curcumin has been shown to reduce the pain of arthritis, as well as have anti-cancer and anti-diabetes properties.
Anti-Inflammatory Food #6: Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate may rival #1 for the most decadent anti-inflammatory food! Dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa is packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidants, namely flavonols. One of these powerful flavonols is quercetin, mentioned above. These chemicals reduce the risk of heart disease by helping keep arteries healthy. They’ve also been shown to help prevent neuro-inflammation (inflammation of the brain and nerves) and may help with long-term memory and reduce the risk of dementia and stroke.
This does NOT include sugary candy bars! You already know those aren’t going to be anti-inflammatory and will actually PROMOTE inflammation.
When buying dark chocolate, remember to go for at least 70% dark. The higher the percentage, the less “sweet” it will be and a little goes a long way!
There are just so many amazingly delicious and nutritious anti-inflammatory foods to choose from! They range from colorful berries, vegetables, herbs and spices…. to fats and even cocoa!
Check out this RECIPE!
Recipe (Broccoli, Pepper, Turmeric): Anti-inflammatory Quinoa
¾ cup dry quinoa (pre-rinsed)
2 tbsp coconut oil1 medium onion, diced1 bell pepper, chopped1 dash salt½ tbsp turmeric1 dash black pepper
2 cups broccoli, chopped
In a saucepan place 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add the quinoa and simmer until the water is absorbed (about 10-15 minutes).
Melt coconut oil in a skillet. Add diced onions, turmeric, pepper and salt, and lightly sauté for a few minutes.
Add broccoli and lightly sauté for 5-6 minutes, until it becomes softened.
Add the cooked quinoa and stir everything together.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: Add some cayenne pepper or curry spice for an extra spicy kick.