From asthma and allergies to rheumatoid arthritis and gastrointestinal disorders, chronic inflammation can lead to a whole host of health issues. Try these eight foods to reduce inflammation and give your immune system a boost.
This cruciferous vegetable packs a big punch against inflammation. Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin K, which according to the Arthritis Foundation, has been found to destroy the cells that contribute to rheumatoid arthritis. The white vegetable also contains glucobrassicin, a compound that can prevent the initiation of inflammation at the genetic level.
Blackberries are loaded with antioxidants—more per serving than any other food, according to an article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Anthocyanins are a type of antioxidant found in berries—they’re also what causes the deep red, blue, and purple colors—that contains anti-inflammatory properties.
Salmon and other fatty fish such as mackerel and sardines are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce the signs of inflammation associated with age-related diseases. The American Heart Association recommends at least two servings of fatty fish per week for maximum benefits (note: a serving size is about 3.5 ounces).
Not a fan of fish? You can still add omega 3s to your diet by eating a handful of walnuts every day. Walnuts contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based, omega 3 source suitable for vegetarians. ALAs are also good for heart health and keeping your skin smooth and younger looking. Other nuts that fit the bill are pistachios and almonds. Buy unsalted nuts to keep dietary sodium in check.
Avocado is touted by The World’s Healthiest Foods website as having great anti-inflammatory components—namely carotenoids and phytosterols, as well as two types of flavonoids. Although most of the research shows anti-inflammatory benefits to the cardiovascular system, recent studies show that adding avocado to your diet can also help with arthritis. For the greatest benefits, eat one-half to one cup of avocado a few times per week.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
According to the International Olive Oil Council (IOOC), extra-virgin olive oil is cold pressed, meaning that no heat over a certain temperature should be used when it is processed. This high-quality olive oil retains more nutrients than the standard variety and contains a plant-based compound called oleocanthal. Oleocanthal causes a peppery sting in the back of your throat when you eat it. Researchers discovered that this ingredient works to reduce inflammation the same way the anti-inflammatory drug ibuprofen (Advil) does.
Beans are chock full of fiber, which may help lower markers of inflammation, a key factor in some types of arthritis, according to the Arthritis Foundation. High-fiber foods are also a food source for the good bacteria living in your gut. These good belly bugs then release substances that reduce inflammation all over the body. Lentils, black beans, and lima beans boast the most fiber, but all beans are a good source, so enjoy any variety you like.
Got chronic inflammation? Eat more spices such as ginger, say doctors at the University of Wisconsin Integrative Medicine Program. Ginger contains anti-inflammatory compounds known as gingerols, which are believed to reduce pain levels in patients with rheumatoid arthritis who eat ginger regularly.
Consume these foods as part of a well-rounded diet to treat symptoms of inflammation and help prevent some of the wear and tear associated with aging.