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Articles Fitness Nutrition

6 Anti-Inflammatory Foods

May 26, 2010

Adding anti-inflammatory foods to your diet is a good way to protect and improve your health. Inflammation is your body’s natural reaction to irritation, trauma or infection. Acute infection serves a purpose; it mobilizes your immune system to heal you. However, when inflammation becomes chronic, it causes a lot of problems. Illnesses like IBS, colitis, asthma, eczema, allergies, Alzheimer, fibromyalgia, arthritis, obesity, cardiovascular diseases and even cancer have all been linked to chronic inflammation. Consuming anti-inflammatory foods can help you prevent or alleviate these conditions.

Research suggests that a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods increases your life expectancy and improves your general level of fitness. Let’s take a look at 6 anti-inflammatory foods:

1. Cold Water Fish

The omega-3 fatty acids found abundantly in cold water fish balance the effects of omega-6 fatty acids in your diet. Omega-6 fatty acids make your body produce eicosanoids that promote inflammation. The eicosanoids produced from omega-3 fatty acids counter their inflammatory effect. Salmon, tuna, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring are good choices to help you fight inflammation. When you get salmon, however, you need to make sure it is wild salmon since farmed salmon contains a substance that’s highly inflammatory.

2. Green Tea

Green tea provides you with a great amount of anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory polyphenols.  If you drink 3 cups a day, you add about 300 mg of polyphenols to your daily diet. The health benefits of green tea are well known. Green tea drinkers have lower risk of a wide variety of diseases, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.

3. Turmeric & Ginger

These two root spices have strong anti-inflammatory properties.  You can best use them fresh, but if you’re unable to get your hands on the fresh roots, you can add the dried spice to your dishes.  Turmeric is found in curry powder and ginger powder is readily available in most supermarkets.

4. Vegetables

Vegetables in general are a great source of phytonutrients and antioxidants that help fight inflammation. Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli not only provide you with a whole host of antioxidants, but they also provide sulfur which your body uses to produce antioxidants. Onions and garlic are rich in vitamin C and have great anti inflammatory properties.

5. Fruits

Fruits are rich in flavonoids, carotenoids and vitamins, which provide both anti inflammatory and anti oxidant action. To take full advantage of all the beneficial substances found in fruits, you can add a wide variety to your diet. Particularly good choices are blueberries, strawberries, apples, tart cherries, citrus fruit and papaya.

6. Olive Oil

Olive oil has a good balance between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, and mainly consists of an omega-9 fatty acid called oleic acid, which is unsaturated and inhibits inflammation. Not only does olive oil provide you with the right kind of fatty acids, it also contains a substance called oleocanthal. Oleocanthal fights inflammation like ibuprofen does, by inhibiting the activity of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase in your body. Research suggests that adding olive oil to your diet lowers the chances of developing colon cancer and inflammation related diseases.

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