Fight Inflammation With These 10 Power Foods
Chronic inflammation in the body is linked to a laundry list of health issues, from heart disease and cancer to arthritis and even depression. The good news is acute inflammation is largely preventable. Through proper diet and nutrition, inflammation within the body can be dramatically reduced. Keep scrolling to discover our favorite delicious and potent anti-inflammatory ingredients that promise to boost your mood and keep your body in top form.
Nutrition expert and founder of Joy Bauer Nutrition, Joy Bauer, M.S., R.D., CDN, emphasizes brazil nuts for their high selenium content, stating individuals who consume a diet low in selenium may be nearly twice as likely to develop severe arthritis as those with a selenium-rich diet. In addition, nuts are rich in fiber, calcium, and vitamin E, as well as a daily dose of antioxidants for extra disease-fighting power.
Dr. Frank Hu, professor of nutrition and epidemiology in the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health, emphatically states choosing the right foods is the key to preventing disease. Dark leafy greens contain high levels of protective compounds, polyphenols, and antioxidants aplenty. Why go dark? Dark greens and cruciferous vegetables pack higher concentrations of vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals than their lighter counterparts. Pass the kale.
While ginger is available in everything from capsules to teas to dried ginger plant, Dr. Roberta Lee, M.D., vice chair of the Department of Integrative Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, recommends capsules for those looking to get the most bang out of the root. Look for brands that use “super-critical extraction,” and take with food. The road to health is paved with good intestines. A little ginger aids in reducing inflammation in the intestine; however, too much on an empty stomach may cause upset.
Professor Dr. Andreas Zimmer at the University of Bonn and Dr. Jurg Gertsch of the ETH Zurich call oregano the "ultimate inflammation fighter" due to the active ingredient beta-caryophyllin (E-BCP). E-BCP inhibits inflammation throughout the body and has also proven effecting in preventing osteoporosis. Oregano contains phytochemicals thymol and carvacrol, powerful anti-fungal agents. In addition, oregano oil has a potent antibacterial effect against a range of diseases from E. coli to the common cold.
Pineapples are naturally high in bromelain, an enzyme that reduces swelling and inflammation after infection or injury. Found in the stem and juice of the pineapple, the fruit has been used for centuries in Central and South America to aid in digestion and reduce inflammation. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports some studies even indicate bromelain may reduce sinusitis symptoms or inflammation caused by hay fever. Sweet relief for allergy season.
As part of an anti-inflammatory diet, Dr. Weil recommends opting for carbohydrates high in fiber, with a concentrated vitamin and mineral content. Sweet potatoes fit the bill perfectly. These complex carbohydrates contain vitamins B6 and C along with beta-carotene, manganese, and dietary fiber—all powerful antioxidants and nutrients to fights inflammation.
According to a study at Oregon Health & Science University, tart cherries may be endowed with "the highest anti-inflammatory content of any food." Anthocyanins, the antioxidant compounds in tart cherries responsible for the fruit's bright color, possess a high antioxidant capacity for reducing inflammation. So high, the levels are on par with some well-known pain medications. Great news for athletes and arthritis sufferers, a daily dose of cherries could help naturally reduce inflammation and swelling by nearly 20%.
Well known as the key flavor and color in curry powders, turmeric boasts a number of medical uses—from inflammatory skin diseases to heartburn and arthritis. The spice contains the compound, curcumin, which studies show aids highly in relieving inflammation throughout the body. High in manganese, turmeric also contains iron, vitamin B6, and potassium. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports the herb may be useful in aiding against several conditions including heart disease, cancer, indigestion, and stomach ulcers.
High in omega-3 fatty acids, fish oils, and fatty fish aid in decreasing inflammation. The potent polyunsaturated fats fight inflammatory disease by suppressing the production of enzymes that erode cartilage in the body. Try integrating a variety of fish, prepared in healthy ways, into your diet throughout the week. Best-selling author and holistic health expert Dr. Andrew Weil, M.D., recommends wild salmon, sardines packed in water or olive oil, herring, black cod, or a fish oil supplement for the highest level of benefits.
Opening image: Salt & Wind
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Zingology Beetroot Juice Powder ($21)
Beets are high in natural chemicals called nitrates. The body converts nitrates to nitric oxide which purifies the blood and detoxifies, making beets a natural remedy for helping to lower blood pressure and increase blood flow. A favorite of athletes, beets are known to increase athletic ability by boosting stamina. Naturally high in silica, the root also helps the body effectively use calcium.