Everyone deals with inflammation, some more than others. Some people avoid food allergies and sensitivities to prevent inflammation.
The good news is there are foods that anyone could eat to reduce inflammation. Nearly everyone could benefit from eating an anti-inflammatory diet pattern regularly.
Let’s look the specific nutrients and food groups that make up the anti-inflammatory diet.
When it comes to anti-inflammatory nutrients, omega-3 fats are the stars. Inflammation is necessary for the healing process but we need anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats to stop inflammation from growing out of control.
Unfortunately, we can't make omega-3 fats in the body; only the foods in our diet provide omega-3 fats. Meats and seafood provide more powerful omega-3s than those in plant-based foods.
Some of the best sources of omega-3 fats are fish like salmon. But, we can't ignore plant-based foods with omega-3 fats. Foods like flax, chia, and walnuts have omega-3 fats as well as other anti-inflammatory nutrients.
A 2019 study measured how various food groups impact our inflammatory status. Researchers studied 19 food groupings and determined which ones had an anti-inflammatory effect. Of the 19 groupings, they found tomatoes to be the most potent anti-inflammatory food.
The critical nutrients are vitamin C, beta-carotene, & lycopene. These nutrients are valuable antioxidants that protect our cells and tissues from damage. Without damage, there is no healing process and inflammation.
Apples, pears, and berries make up the second most potent anti-inflammatory food group. Each of these fruits contains antioxidant vitamins and antioxidant plant nutrients. Berries are actually some of the most antioxidant-rich foods.
Apples, pears, and blueberries contain other plant nutrient like flavonoids. Flavonoids help slow the inflammatory process at the roots. Reducing inflammation with antioxidants and flavonoids makes apples, pears, and berries valuable anti-inflammatories.
The third group in the 2019 study is veggies and fruit that are yellow or orange. Cantaloupe, peaches, carrots, dark yellow or orange squash, and figs are part of this group. The yellow and orange color comes from specific plant nutrients that bodies can convert to vitamin A. These nutrients are called carotenoids and they are strong antioxidants. Yellow and orange foods are full of other plant nutrients that reduce inflammation too.
Finally, the Mediterranean diet has extensive research about its effects on inflammatory conditions. Harvard Health Publishing considers the Mediterranean diet to be anti-inflammatory. Performance Kitchen offers many tasty Mediterranean meals low in saturated fat. Mediterranean meals also feature vegetables, nuts and seeds, whole grains, fish, and lean meat/poultry. This is fantastic because poultry and nuts are also anti-inflammatory foods.
Use the Mediterranean diet to help guide you or focus on the foods listed below. The anti-inflammatory effects are even stronger when you add in healthy lifestyle factors.
Try our Anti Inflammatory meal plan, designed by our Registered Dietitians that emphasizes fruits and vegetables, whole grains, plant-based proteins, omega-3 and other healthy fats, and phytonutrients to reduce or minimize low-grade inflammation within our bodies. This diet is low in saturated fat, refined carbohydrates, and processed foods.
So eat well, stay active, limit alcohol, avoid smoking, and you'll do your body well.