Top 15 Fruits, Vegetables, Spices, Algae and Drinks to Reduce Inflammation
The anti-inflammatory diet, popularized by Dr. Andrew Weil, operates on the principal that the majority of illness in the body is the result of inflammation, and that the majority of the related pain we experience is the result of the ingestion of inflammatory foods, such as red meat and sugar.
However, on the opposite side of the spectrum, there are also anti-inflammatory foods which can reduce the inflammation in our bodies and increase overall health.
Here are fifteen of the most effective anti-inflammatory foods that you can eat to improve your health:
1 – Kale
In the opinion of many nutritionists and other educated health professionals, Kale is the most nutrient-dense food on earth. Combine this with the fact that it is incredibly easy to blend up into a green smoothie, and you have a fantastic start to your roster of anti-inflammatory foods!
Smoothies, however, are not the only culinary use for kale. As with many vegetables, eating raw kale that has not been pulverized is probably the best use of this nutritious vegetable. It has infinite potential in kale salads, just cut up rather than liquidized.
From a culinary point of view kale can be an asset in presentation as their are many colorful variations. This means that either a professional chef or home enthusiast can add that little bit of extra color to their recipes. From a nutritional and medicinal point of view, kale is one of the most commonly recommended anti-inflammatory foods that can have a positive impact on pain and swelling.
2 – Blueberries
Blueberries have multiple health benefits. They reduce inflammation – which qualifies them for this list – but they also fight the effects of aging, which is highly desirable for many people. Also, studies have suggested that blueberries (along with strawberries and cranberries) can mitigate the damage done by metabolic syndrome by way of controlling inflammation.
Blueberries are very easy to incorporate into your diet. If you are lucky enough to have a local supply of fresh blueberries, then you will have a great time eating them fresh for breakfast with other fresh fruits and yogurt. These fruits are lovely in many desserts, including blueberry the very popular cheesecake. They are useful fruits for adding color to your presentation when serving a mixed fruit dessert of any sort. You will enjoy searching for recipes!
3 – Shitake Mushrooms
Although you can’t get the same benefit from just any onld mushroom, shitake mushrooms in particular do have significant health benefits in helping the body to fight off infection and increase the effectiveness of your natural immune system. Add to these benefits the fact that they are antimicrobial, and have actually been used in the past in cancer treatments and you can see why these mushrooms are nothing short of a miracle food!
4 – Wild Salmon
Salmon is rich in healthy omega-3 acids, which have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. When shopping for salmon, wild is always preferable to farmed. If you simply can’t tolerate fish at all, however, there are many high quality supplements on the market which could help to bridge that gap.
5 – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Whenever anyone broaches the “good fats” versus “bad fats” explanation, extra virgin olive oil is usually top on their list of good fats – and for good reason! This oil provides a healthy dose of good fats that assist in lowering inflammation, and in fact, many people in the Mediterranean cultures consider it a boon to health. It is also known as an anti-inflammatory. Olive oil also seems to be one of those special foods that have a range of benefits, often associated with the Mediterranean diet.
6 – Sesame and Hemp Seeds
These two powerful foods are excellent for your immune system, and have even been shown to help people with chronic and complex immuno-disorders such as lupus. Not only that, but the seeds help balance your immune system because they are rich in such ingredients as B3 vitamins, B1 vitamins, Vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, iron, manganese, and zinc. Lastly, they are incredibly simple to incorporate into your diet if you mix them up in smoothies!
7 – Kelp
Kelp is a brown algae extract, and helps to control both liver cancer and lung cancer. It is not only anti-inflammatory in nature, but also anti-tumor and anti-oxidative.
8 – Squash
One of the most harmful destroyers of the healthy tissue in our bodies are free radicals. They are incredibly destructive to our body! The destructive effect of free radicals, however, can be ameliorated somewhat by eating squash, which contains carotenoids. Caretenoids are anti-oxidants and they work to overcome the damage done by free radicals while simultaneously providing a buffer between the free radicals and your tissue.
Squashes can be varied in color and are colorful ingredients for many dishes including soups. This makes them rather easier to “sell” to children who won’t eat their green vegetables. Well, that’s my theory anyway. Apart from that they do taste rather nice and should not offend the taste buds of too many people. They really are rich in nutrients and are popular foods for fighting inflammation.
9 – Cruciferous Vegetables
This group of healthy vegetables – which includes broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and the aforementioned kale – contains the compound sulforaphane, which has been shown in clinical studies to reduce the inflammation in arteries.
10 – Turmeric
Unlike the previously mentioned foods, turmeric is a powerful anti-inflammatory spice. This means that – while it would not be eaten on its own to fight inflammation, it can be used to spice any of the other foods on the list in order to multiply the benefits inherent in eating that food.
Of all the spices, turmeric is probably the best known for a wide range of benefits as a natural medicine. New studies on this beautiful spice seem to emerge on a regular basis, and I have witnessed that trend for several decades since the 1980′s. The recognition of turmeric seems to have accelerated in recent years. Included among the studied benefits are as a counter to inflammatory tendencies in the body.
For some of us turmeric is very easy to consume, as it is a staple of Indian cuisine, which just happens to be my favorite. It is a basic ingredient of “curries” but it does have a great deal of scope for culinary use.
11 – Garlic
Again, rather than being a food that would be eaten alone, garlic is an anti-inflammatory food that would be consumed in concert with another item on the list. In addition to fighting inflammation, garlic has also been known to support your body in fighting infection and regulating blood glucose.
Garlic has been associated with being a natural preventative medicine in many cultures. It also has some remarkable culinary potential and is widely used throughout the world. In millions of households, including my own, it is an essential food on a daily basis. Supplements are available for those who do not like garlic in their meals, or who are conscious of the strong odor it can leave on breath and skin. If you live in a community where everyone eats garlic, then that is unlikely to be a problem.
12 – Ginger
Ginger has a plethora of health benefits, and its anti-inflammation properties are chief among them. Aside from supporting inflammation reduction, it also controls blood sugar, for instance. Ginger can be easily consumed in the form of pills or tea.
13 – Sweet Potato
When you incorporate sweet potatoes into your diet, you are taking in a lot of healthy elements. First of all, sweet potatoes are an excellent source of complex carbohydrates – which are the carbohydrates that are the healthiest for you. Not only that, but they provide fiber, manganese, beta-carotene, Vitamin C, and Vitamin B6.
Sweet potatoes are another vegetable which have numerous health benefits at the same time as having great culinary potential. They can be cooked in numerous ways, and you will enjoy many of the recipes you find as you search for ways to incorporate sweet potatoes into your diet. Some of the basic cooking ideas which I have experienced are boiled, mashed and sweet potato fires. From a nutritional point of view, and thus a medicinal point of view, the less they are cooked the better.
In some parts of the world sweet potatoes are something of a luxury, in others they are cheap. Where I was born they were a luxury while potatoes were cheap. Living in SE Asia they are generally cheap and sometimes dismissed as poor people’s food. It is probably best to live somewhere that has cheap potatoes and sweet potatoes, such as Ecuador. I personally find sweet potatoes are lovely in curries as a replacement for potato.
14 – Green Tea
Green tea contains a plethora of health advantages, just beginning with its anti-inflammatory properties, supported by flavonoids. Some studies even suggest that green tea has cancer fighting properties.
15 – Whole Fruits
It seems everyone is on board with the general idea that “fruit is healthy” – but what many people do not realize is that fruit loses many of its health benefits when only the sweet and delicious flesh is eaten. Rather, the fiber rich skin contains much of the nutrient and anti-inflammatory properties which are in the fruit in the first place. When choosing fiber-rich whole fruits to add to your diet, make sure that you do give preference to organically raised fruit because of the dangers of pesticides.
By incorporating these foods heavily into your diet – and eschewing harmful foods such as transfats, processed sugar and flour, refined grains, alcohol, and red meats – the theory of the anti-inflammatory diet is that your body will be healthier and disease free, which will help you live both a longer life and a happier one.