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The Top 10 Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Eat

Updated: Oct 18, 2022

You may have heard a lot about inflammation these days. But what exactly is inflammation, and why does it matter? Inflammation is how your immune system reacts to irritation, injury, or infection. It's a normal bodily response and a natural part of healing. Inflammation literally means that your body is on fire. Chronic inflammation that lasts too long can harm your body, and raise the risk of nearly every chronic disease, including cancer, heart disease, depression, Alzheimer's, arthritis, and diabetes. The good news is that there are many things you can do to prevent chronic inflammation and promote self-healing. Regular movement and stretching, keeping stress levels low, and getting consistent, good quality sleep are essential to overall wellness. What we eat also plays a major role in reducing inflammation and keeping the body from dis-ease.

Below are 10 of the top anti-inflammatory foods that promote healing in the body.

#1 - Avocados

This versatile and delicious fruit is a nutritional powerhouse, packed with potassium, magnesium, fiber, and healthy fats that promote brain and gut health. “Bravocado!”

#2 - Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are high in fiber, vitamins C and A, both of which support immune function, help lower blood pressure, and help with constipation. Plus, they're loaded with antioxidants and natural anti-inflammatory compounds.

#3 - Beans and Lentils

Beans, beans the magical fruit, and for good reason! Be it pinto, black, navy, kidney, garbanzo (chickpeas), or cannellini, or lentils - red, yellow, or green - pick your favorite and you can't go wrong! Beans are rich in iron, plant-based protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Eating beans regularly has been shown to reduce cholesterol, regulate blood sugar, lower inflammation, and increase beneficial strains of gut bacteria.

#4 - Oily Fish

Oily Fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, and anchovies support digestion and are high in protein and essential brain building omega 3 fatty acids. Opt for wild fish whenever possible, as farmed fish contains high levels of toxins.

#5 - Dark, Leafy Greens

Dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale, arugula, chard, and mustard, collard, and beet greens, and deliver tons of nutrients, such as vitamins A and C, antioxidants, fiber, magnesium, calcium, and iron. Vitamin K, which is also in most greens, may be a key regulator of inflammation and may help protect from inflammatory diseases like arthritis and Alzheimer's. Lightly sauté your greens for easier digestion and better nutrient absorption.

#6 - Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are great sources of protein, healthy fats, and fiber. Walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and flax seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids, especially walnuts. These tasty nuts contain powerful and uncommon types of phytonutrients that are connected with lowering inflammation levels and reducing pain. Grinding nuts in a blender can make them easier to digest. For a nutty, naturally sweet recipe that will keep you energized and satisfied, check out these energy bites. What's nut to love?

#7 - Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Avocado Oil

These two oils are rich in antioxidants, monounsaturated fats, and omega-3 polyunsaturated fats. These oils lubricate your digestive system, making it easier for stools to pass and easing constipation. They also support the balance of good gut bacteria, making them excellent “go-to” cooking oils. There's a lot to know about cooking oils! Click here for more information about the healthiest and unhealthiest oils.

#8 - Fruits

Berries such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, and fruits like cherries, grapes, oranges, and tomatoes, are packed with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. In addition, these super fruits boost your immunity and reduce inflammation. When available, opt for deep red, blue and purple fruits. Fruits are the berry best!

#9 - Spices

Spices, especially cinnamon, fresh ginger and garlic, rosemary, chilis, and turmeric, all have antioxidants, boost immunity, and contain powerful anti-inflammatory properties. These spices also boast many other health benefits, having been used for centuries in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, and each one can help with various conditions and illnesses. Please note that turmeric must be paired with black pepper for full health benefits. Since it can interact with certain medications, please check with your doctor before consuming turmeric if you take medication.

#10 - Dark Chocolate

Chocolate lovers rejoice! Consuming small amounts of dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa (the higher number the better) has many health benefits, including antioxidants, improving blood flow, decreasing blood pressure, and flavanols, which have anti-inflammatory properties. Plus, most dark chocolate is a good source of iron, protein, and fiber. (It’s important to read the labels and nutrition facts for the most nutrient-dense chocolate).

In general, nearly all whole, nutrient-rich, and unprocessed foods are anti-inflammatory, and are essential to overall health. When possible, aim to eat foods in their natural form, with nothing added. If you can’t pronounce an ingredient, it doesn’t belong in your body! Whole foods, like fruits, veggies, beans, fish, eggs, nuts, rice, and oats are nourishing and delicious just as they are.

What are your favorite healing foods? Have you experienced a change in your health after incorporating more healing foods into your diet? Please share in the comments below!

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