Most people spend lots of time searching for the perfect diet. We want a diet that will age us gracefully, prevent disease, help us lose weight, and just make us healthy in general. There are loads of diets out there claiming to do this, but there is one problem they often do not address. This one problem could even be the trigger behind the issues we are trying to fix through dieting. This problem is inflammation.
Inflammation is a part of the body’s immune response. It can cause discomfort, redness, swelling, and other undesirable side effects. While mainstream media has recently discovered inflammation and proposed hundreds of easy cures, we believe the most natural and effective remedy is the food we put in our bodies. After all, Hippocrates says “Let food by thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Eating healthier food that prevents inflammation can allow your body to heal more efficiently. This works in preventing diseases like obesity, heart disease, cancer, and other degenerative diseases.
If you are looking to decrease inflammation by way of a healthy diet, incorporate these 12 ingredients.
Turmeric gets its anti-inflammatory properties from curcumin. This compound has been proven to inhibit numerous pro-inflammatory compounds in clinical studies. Turmeric has even been shown through studies to have similar effects to anti-inflammatory over the counter medication. Current uses like treatment for irritable bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis are being investigated. Also being investigated is its role in preventing diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s.
Recipes with this item: Try our turmeric coconut rice!
The omega-3 fatty acids in salmon inhibit the pro-inflammatory enzyme COX. They also inhibit the pro-inflammatory effects of omega-6 fatty acids. This makes salmon a great choice for the average American, as we tend to overconsume omega-6 fatty acids.
Recipes with this item: Try our Salmon Teriyaki with Broccoli!
If you are vegetarian and still searching for a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts are the choice for you. In addition to omega-3s, walnuts also contain polyphenols. These are antioxidants that prevent oxidative damage.
Ginger is considered anti-inflammatory due to its gingerol compound. Gingerol suppresses pro-inflammatory compounds such as cytokines and chemokines, in addition to pro-oxidative agents that promote systematic stress.
Recipes with this item: Try our Beef and Cabbage Stir Fry—it contains ginger!
You are probably familiar with the health benefits of green tea. Green tea contains a polyphenol called EGCG, which is thought to inhibit pro-inflammatory pathways. Green tea has been studied for its therapeutic use in cancer, irritable bowel disease, and diabetes. We recommend drinking the tea normally or soaking your brown rice in green tea for an earthy rice dish.
Dark Leafy Greens
Spinach, kale, and other leady greens are great as anti-inflammatories. The vitamin C, vitamin E, and antioxidants in dark, leafy greens curb the inflammatory process.
Recipes with this item: Try our spinach filled breakfast quiche!
Onions include multiple anti-inflammatory compounds. The most notable is quercetin, a compound that inhibits pro-inflammatory activity. It also has antioxidant effects. This is great news, as onions can be added to just about any dish.
Recipes with this item: Try our white fish stew with onions!
In the same family as onions, garlic contains numerous anti-inflammatory compounds and antioxidants. Allicin is one of these compounds. It inhibits pro-inflammatory messengers. Studies also show that garlic limits the progression of atherosclerosis, promoting heart health.
Recipes with this item: Try our Mexican picadillo with garlic!
The same compounds that give berries their vibrant colors are known for their strong anti-inflammatory properties. Anthocyanins lesson the activity of a compound that is responsible for initiating many pro-inflammatory processes. As antioxidants, berries also control oxidative stress.
Recipes with this item: Try our blueberry quinoa breakfast bars!
Cruciferous Vegetables (Like Broccoli)
Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage and broccoli contain glucosinolates. These compounds are being studied as they are thought to block a pro-inflammatory transcription factor. These vegetables also contain vitamin K and omega-3 fatty acids, which regulates immune and inflammatory response.
Recipes with this item: Try our beef and cabbage stir fry!
You might have seen flaxseeds popping up in healthy recipes lately. This is because they contain ALA, an omega-3 fatty acid that helps guard against cardiovascular inflammation. They also contain lignans, which is a polyphenol that inhibits the formation of platelet activating factor that is risk for inflammation.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
Consuming olive oil can reduce the amount of anti-inflammatory markers in the blood. Olive oil contains at least nine polyphenols that limit inflammation in the body. One way they do this is by decreasing the production of pro-inflammatory messenger molecules. Make olive oil a staple in your household.
Recipes with this item: Try our buttery lemon and thyme baby potatoes with olive oil!
Text By Thomas Cox and Martha Kendall Custard