Fall in Love With
These Inflammation-Fighting Foods

Allison Walsh
Fall in Love With

In honor of National Nutrition Monthlink opens in a new window, Supplementally Speaking is taking a look at the way different foods can help you fight inflammation.

Inflammation is a popular buzzword because so many everyday things trigger it, from a twist on the playing field (swollen ankle) to a trip to the pizza joint (heartburn). But so can ongoing work stress, a smoking habit or an autoimmune condition like rheumatoid arthritis.

Inflammation has its purpose, but…

Put simply, inflammation is your body’s reaction to stress and can have both short-term and long-term effects. Acute inflammation, a result of your immune response to infection and injury, protects your body from harm—think of that swollen ankle or a mosquito bite. But chronic inflammation, the result of ongoing immune system distress, has been linked to many diseases including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, depression and Alzheimer’s.1

Fortunately, there’s also a link between inflammation and the foods you eat. Some foods have been shown to help inflammation and others can actually cause it—so why not get familiar with the foods to choose? Let’s take a closer look.

Anti-inflammatory foods to choose

So here’s a list—for starters—of the foods you’d be wise to choose if you’re looking for an anti-inflammatory health boost:

  • Tomatoes
  • Green leafy vegetables (e.g. spinach and kale)
  • Cruciferous vegetables (e.g. broccoli and cabbage)
  • Nuts
  • Fatty fish
  • Fruits (e.g. cherries, raspberries, and blackberries)
  • Mushrooms (e.g. shitake, enokitake, maitake, and oyster)
  • Beans
  • Lowfat dairy
  • Soy
  • Sweet potatoes

Cook or season with…

  • Olive oil
  • Turmeric
  • Ginger
  • Garlic
  • Chili peppers
  • Basil
  • Cinnamon
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

To drink…

  • Water
  • Coffee
  • White, green, or oolong tea
  • Red wine (no more than 1-2 servings per day)

And treat yourself to (but try to limit!) healthy sweets…

  • Unsweetened dried fruit
  • Fruit sorbet
  • Dark chocolate (at least 70% pure cacao)

Inflammatory foods to avoid

Processed foods, overly greasy foods, overly sweet foods, and high-glycemic foods all cause or contribute to inflammation, so avoid them or enjoy in moderation:

  • Refined carbohydrates (e.g. pastries and white bread and pasta)
  • Fried foods (e.g. French fries)
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages (e.g. soda)
  • Processed meat and red meat
  • Shortening, margarine and lard

Foodies, get familiar with the anti-Inflammatory vocab

As you can see, what most people think of as a “healthy food” is probably a good pick! These foods have anti-inflammatory effects and/or enhance immune function. They can lesson symptoms, reduce inflammation and lower associated health risks. Why? Because they’re made up of naturally occurring, largely plant-based chemicals, compounds and phytonutrients such as…

  • Antioxidants – Examples include vitamins A, E, C; carotenoids such as beta-carotene, lutein, and lycopene; and selenium 2
  • Polyphenols – Examples include phenolic acids, flavonoids, anthocyanidins, resveratrol, stilbenes, curcumins, and lignans 3
  • Omega-3 fatty acids – Examples include alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) 4
  • So next time you’re at the grocery store, planning your weekly menu, or browsing a restaurant menu, think about your immune system and what it craves!



1 Publishing, H. H. (n.d.). Foods that fight inflammation. Retrieved October 20, 2017, from health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/foods-that-fight-inflammation.link opens in a new window
2 French, A. (2017, October 03). What Foods Are High in Vitamins C & E & Beta-Carotene? Retrieved October 20, 2017, from livestrong.com/article/274760-what-foods-are-high-in-vitamins-c-e-beta-carotene/.link opens in a new window
3 Kahn, M. J. (2015, January 24). 10 Best Polyphenol-Rich Superfoods Why You Should Be Eating Them. Retrieved October 20, 2017, from mindbodygreen.com/0-17145/10-best-polyphenol-rich-superfoods-why-you-should-be-eating-them.html.link opens in a new window
4 Your Omega-3 Family Shopping List. (n.d.). Retrieved October 20, 2017, from webmd.com/diet/guide/your-omega-3-family-shopping-list#1.link opens in a new window

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