10 Foods to Reduce Inflammation and Why You Should Care

Photo by Ella Olsson on Flickr.com


Ever wake up with puffy eyes, get asthma out of nowhere, or suffer from rheumatoid arthritis?

Millions of Americans struggle to get inflammation under control, taking medications with minimal comfort.

Relief may be easier than you think, having only to open your refrigerator.

You may see articles and postings about inflammation, but are wondering what it is exactly.

According to the Hospital for Special Surgery:

Inflammation refers to a biological response to stimuli interpreted by the body to have a potentially harmful effect.”

 When we get an injury, the body will protect itself with inflammation, but when an inflammation disease presents itself, the immune system will attack the body’s own cells and tissues.

There are foods that increase inflammation, such as fatty, greasy, salty, processed, or super sweet foods- think any food that you would get at a carnival, like those oh-so-tempting funnel cakes.

After eating these types of food, you may feel sluggish, puffy, and maybe even a little stiff; that’s your body telling you to stay away!

Then there are foods that reduce inflammation, delicious and nutritious options that not only make you feel good after you eat them, but are warding off disease at the same time.

These are what you want to be adding every day to your meals to get you up and ready for that epic parent versus child soccer game at the end of the season.

Please take note that anything in this article is not medical advice, and you should consult with your doctor about any concerns or changes with your diet or medication.

1. Berries

Who doesn’t like this colorful superfood snack?

Rich in antioxidants called flavonoids, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries offer a powerful defense against cellular damage.

Karen Thomas, food, families, and health educator, wrote in an article for Penn State Extension how berries are a great anti-inflammatory:

Of the fruits, berries are very high in flavonoids and are known to have beneficial effects on inflammation and cell damage.”

 2. Green Tea

In many regions of China, individuals drink green tea daily. This habit is more than just a custom, it is also a way to stay healthy.

Green tea has many wonderful polyphenols, which are antioxidants that help fight off free radicals in the body.

In the journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, the benefits of getting a healthy dose of polyphenols is clear:

Polyphenols are compounds with various potential biological properties such as antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, antineoplastic, antiaging, cardioprotective, anticancer, and antimicrobial properties. … Oxidative stress activates a variety of inflammatory mediators involved in several chronic diseases.”

 So, if your cabinet isn’t already stocked with this tasty mid-morning pick-me-up, it’s time to hit the store.

3. Dark Chocolate

According to Well and Good, research presented at the Experimental Biology annual meeting “indicated that eating dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cacao offered benefits due to its high levels of flavonoids.”

Take note of that key word “flavonoids” that keeps popping up, handing out anti-inflammatory properties that we are better with, than without.

And what an amazing way to get the body healthy! As if we weren’t already sneaking dark chocolate when the kids weren’t looking anyway.

4. Broccoli

Research has shown that sulforaphane, which broccoli has plenty of, is great at fighting inflammation by reducing cytokines, according to the Reader’s Digest.

Cytokines are not something we want a lot of, because once the protein is released in the cell it causes “inflammatory effects.”

Broccoli is versatile, so have fun with it and add it to stir fries, dip it in hummus raw, or bake it in bread crumbs for a healthy snack.

5. Avocado

Many people know that avocados are a great source of healthy fats, but what they may not know is that it also is an excellent source of magnesium, fiber, and potassium.

With all these healthy nutrients you may think that it can’t get any better, but wait, there’s more- they also have polyphenols!

Getting on an anti-inflammatory diet is easy with this superfood. You can dip chips in guacamole, add diced avocado to your salad, or eat it raw with a little Himalayan salt on top.

6. Leafy Greens

You may not be surprised to find this food on the list of anti-inflammatory foods, because leafy greens are on almost every “eat healthy” list.

It is for good reason!

Reader’s Digest reports:

Vegetables, like kale, chard, bok choy, and silverbeet are anti-inflammatory foods because they’re packed with anti-inflammatory carotenoids.”

 Throw some spinach in your smoothie, bake kale for some afternoon chips, or add some bok choy to your stir fry.

7. Mushrooms

An article in Food Chem, by Muszyńska B, et al., boasts about mushrooms’ amazing effects on the body:

Mushrooms are rich in anti-inflammatory components, such as polysaccharides, phenolic and indolic compounds, mycosteroids, fatty acids, carotenoids, vitamins, and biometals. Metabolites from mushrooms of the Basidiomycota taxon possess antioxidant, anticancer, and most significantly, anti-inflammatory properties. Recent reports indicate that edible mushroom extracts exhibit favorable therapeutic and health-promoting benefits, particularly in relation to diseases associated with inflammation. In all certainty, edible mushrooms can be referred to as a “superfood” and are recommended as a valuable constituent of the daily diet.”

 While mushrooms aren’t everybody’s favorite food, the benefits are too good to pass up.

If you want to get your inflammation under control, try adding mushrooms in different ways until you find one that is suitable for your taste buds.

8. Nuts

Nuts are one of the easier snacks for kids, because they are healthy and mess-free. They also are great for moms, because they are easy to pack, and can be eaten in under 5 minutes, and stave off hunger.

If you weren’t already sold on the convenience of nuts, here is another reason to keep some in the pantry.

An article in Harvard Women’s Health Watch reports:

Studies have also associated nuts with reduced markers of inflammation and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.” 

9. Olive Oil

Olive oil is a delicious cooking ingredient that adds so much flavor, as well as giving your body’s defenses another weapon to attack unwanted intruders.

Healthline reports on how this oil is superior to others like vegetable or peanut oil:

The main anti-inflammatory effects are mediated by the antioxidants. Key among them is oleocanthal, which has been shown to work similarly to ibuprofen, an anti-inflammatory drug.”

The trick to getting optimum health benefits from your olive oil is to make sure it is “extra virgin” olive oil, all others will not pack the same punch.

10. Onions

Sautéing onions leaves a distinct aroma in the kitchen that lets you know you are in for a delightful meal.

Adding flavor to your meals is not the only job the onion is doing; it is also reducing inflammation with flavonoids.

The Arthritis Foundation reports:

Onions are also one of the richest sources of flavonoids – antioxidants that mop up free radicals in your body’s cells before they have a chance to cause harm. One flavonoid found in onions, called quercetin, has been shown to inhibit inflammation-causing leukotrienes, prostaglandins and histamines in osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), reduce heart disease risk by lowering low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad” cholesterol and help prevent the progression of cancer.”

Make a conscious effort to add these foods to your diet, and you will be feeling better in no time as your inflammation reduces.

With all the foods out there that are fighting against your body, you need to stock your own defenses to stay healthy.

Eat smart, exercise regularly, sleep well, and keep inflammation at bay.

The recommendations and suggestions in this article are for informational purposes only, and are not meant to substitute any medical advice from a professional.

Please let us know in the comments section if you have used any of these foods to fight inflammation.