The Top Ten Inflammation Fighting Foods

Inflammation is one of the leading causes of weight gain, aging, fatigue and illness in adults. It can be caused by many factors such as diet, lack of exercise, stress, lack of sleep, and coming into contact with toxins.

The good news is that there are many things you can do to detox your body and reduce inflammation. One of the best things you can do is fill your diet with antioxidant foods.

What is an Antioxidant?

You’ve probably heard the word “antioxidant” but you may not know what it really means. When it comes to food, an antioxidant food is one that contains vitamins or minerals that stop oxidation.

Oxidation is a process that causes damage to cells. Oxidation is a common process and can be related to harmful chemicals in food, the environment, or processes that cause stress and strain on the body.

When you eat foods that are high in antioxidant foods, you’re helping your body to fight this damage and to naturally repair itself at a cellular level. Ultimately this leads to detoxification of the body and lower levels of inflammation.

Read on to learn the top ten foods you can add to your diet that will help fight oxidation and inflammation.

1 – Oily Fish

Normally we think of avoiding fatty foods, but when it comes to fish the fattier the better. That’s because the fat in fish actually is filled with omega-3 fatty acids. These are powerful antioxidants that help fight inflammation.

It’s recommended that you eat fish 2-3 times a week in order to get the benefit. And you need to choose fish such as salmon, sardines, tuna, and mackerel that are high in oil and the omega-3 fatty acids.

If you’re really opposed to eating fish, you can also take fish oil supplements. It’s always better to get your nutrients from food, but these supplements can make up the difference in what your diet lacks.

2 – Dark, Leafy Greens

You’ve probably heard about one of the latest health food trends – kale. Kale is a superfood and is joined by spinach, broccoli, and collard greens as a powerful antioxidant.
Try to eat some of these dark, leafy greens every day to increase your dose of healthy vitamins and minerals with antioxidant powers. They contain high levels of iron, calcium, and vitamin E that your body needs.

You can eat them raw in a salad, lightly steamed as a side dish, or blended in a green smoothie. Just make sure to look for the darkest green possible to get this effect. The dark green color indicates more of the antioxidant chemicals.

3 – Nuts

Nuts are delicious sources of healthy fats and proteins. They’re also high in vitamins and minerals. Some of the best nuts to add to your diet include almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and cashews.

These are chock full of fiber, vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, and fiber. You may have shied away from nuts in the past because of their high fat content. But gone are the days of running from fat.

The type of fat found in nuts is healthy fat that helps to lower cholesterol and improve your health. It also helps you to feel full between meals so you don’t overeat as often and can maintain your weight more easily.

A serving of nuts is about a handful and they’re perfect paired with fruit for a satisfying mid-day snack.

4 – Berries

Berries are delicious fruit that are low in sugar and high in nutrition. There’s no such thing as an “unhealthy fruit”. But when it comes to your health, berries pack an extra strong nutritional punch.

Berries such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are full of anthocyanins. These are antioxidant chemicals that give them their striking color and nutritional power. They’re known for being able to help you fight off inflammatory disease such as arthritis and colitis.

Try to eat a serving of berries every day to add these antioxidants to your diet. When it comes to food safety, it’s best to go organic when you purchase berries. That’s because berries have been shown to have the some of the highest levels of pesticide contamination.

These pesticides can cause you to actually get more harm than good as your body has to remove the toxins. When you choose organic, you only get the good nutrition from the berries.

5 – Whole Grains

Many people have diets high in products made from processed grains such as white breads, pastas, and rice. These are foods that have been stripped of much of their nutrition and are actually harmful for your body.

Eating a processed grain causes your blood sugar to spike and your insulin levels to go up. In turn your body has an inflammatory response. And these foods are low in fiber and vitamins and minerals.

But when you eat foods made from whole grains such as whole wheat bread, steel cut oats, and brown rice you get all the nutrition that the plants have to offer. The high fiber content helps keep your blood sugar stable and keeps your insulin levels from skyrocketing.

So if you’re eating a lot of processed foods at this point, try switching out some of your favorites for healthier choices. There’s very little taste difference between brown rice and white rice or between white pasta and whole grain. These easy switches add up to major health benefits.

6 – Olive Oil

Long a favorite of those living in the Mediterranean, one of the best oils you can use for salads, dipping bread, and some cooking is olive oil. Extra virgin olive oil is made from pressed olives. Extra virgin olive oil comes from the first pressing of the olives. Later pressings create virgin olive oils.

In tests, extra virgin olive oil has been found to be higher in antioxidants than oil made from later pressings.

The anti-inflammatory properties of olive oil likely come from the omega-3 fatty acids it contains a swell as polyphenols that are known as antioxidants. Using olive oil daily can help reduce inflammation in your body, lower your cholesterol, and lower your risk of heart disease.

Interestingly, olive oil also contains a chemical called oleocanthal. This has been shown to have a similar effect on the body as over the counter pain relievers.

7 – Garlic

Garlic is known for its strong flavor that some people love while others turn away. This is a favorite in many Italian dishes and other foods that come from the Mediterranean region of the world.

Eating garlic daily can help to strengthen your immune system. It’s also been shown to have some of the same properties as over the counter pain relievers and reduces inflammation in the body.

Eating a few cloves of garlic each day can help you to get this benefit. It’s delicious roasted or even raw. But if you don’t like the flavor, you still do have some options.

Garlic is available in the form of supplement powder. You can even find supplements that have no taste and don’t leave you with any garlic breath. While these supplements can be helpful, it’s still better to try and eat fresh garlic.

8 – Ginger

Ginger is a favorite spice in Asian dishes. It’s been shown to be very high in antioxidants and can help reduce inflammation in the body. Using fresh ginger root is one of the best ways to consume it.

When you see ginger root at the supermarket it may look a bit intimidating. But the rough skin can be easily peeled off using a spoon. The yellowish flesh below is fragrant and full of vitamins.

You can chop it or grate it and add it to your meals. You can also make a tea from ginger root that is full of antioxidants and can soothe your throat during a cold or soothe a stomach ache.

Ginger contains curcumin, vitamin C, and farnesol which are all powerful antioxidants that fight inflammation. Eating ginger a few times a week will give you a beneficial dose of these ingredients.

9 – Turmeric

Turmeric is another spice that’s favored in Indian and Asian cuisine. It’s a bright yellow color that you’ve probably seen in curry. Like ginger, it contains curcumin as a powerful antioxidant. It’s also high in manganese, iron, and vitamin B6.

Unlike ginger, turmeric can be harsh on the stomach if you use it in quantities that are too high. It’s long been used as an anti-inflammatory to soothe aches, bruises, and menstrual pain.

It’s also been known to help relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis. Its antioxidant properties have also helped to prevent cancer and even slow the spread of cancer that is already present.

This is a delicious addition to yoru daily diet and can help reduce chronic inflammation. If you don’t like turmeric, you can take it as an herbal supplement in order to add it.

10 – Tomatoes

One of the most common fruits you can enjoy is the tomato. But don’t let it fool you – it’s a strong antioxidant that can reduce inflammation in the body. Tomatoes have a high concentration of lycopene which is known to improve heart health and even reduce inflammation in the lungs.

While most fruits and vegetables are healthiest in their raw form, cooked tomatoes are actually higher in lycopene than raw tomatoes. That means you get more of a benefit from tomato sauce than from eating a raw tomato – but eating raw tomatoes is also a healthy thing to do.

Eating tomatoes several time a week is beneficial. Try adding them to sandwiches, salads, soups, pizzas, and other items you enjoy on a regular basis.

General Guidelines for an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

While the foods we’ve talked about here are some of the very best for reducing inflammation, they aren’t the only choices. In fact, all fruits and vegetables have antioxidants and can reduce inflammation.

When it comes to your overall diet, you’ll have fewer problems with inflammation if you avoid processed foods. That means avoiding prepackaged foods and fast foods that have added artificial ingredients.

Most of your diet should be plant-based including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, oils, herbs, and spices. When you do add animal products, make sure to look for lean meats, fatty fish, and dairy products that are processed as little as possible.

For example, it’s better to eat a serving of plain whole milk yogurt that’s sweetened with honey than to buy low fat or fat free commercially sweetened yogurt.

When possible, choose organic foods. These are free from genetically modified ingredients as well as pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals. When you eat organic foods your body doesn’t have to work even harder to process added chemicals and toxins on the food.

Avoid foods that are known to cause inflammation such as sugar, white flour, fatty cuts of red meat, trans fats, and saturated animal fats. Avoid foods like margarine that are highly processed. You’re better off having butter made from grass-fed cows in its most natural state.

By following these general guidelines and eating a diet high in antioxidant foods you’ll be able to reduce inflammation in your body. Combined with other healthy lifestyle factors you can reduce your risk of weight gain, premature aging, and chronic disease.