Inflammation is the immune system’s response to detecting something harmful. Sometimes your body’s disease-fighting mechanisms misidentify healthy cells as invaders. The resulting inflammation plays a role in many serious diseases, including arthritis, heart disease, and cancer. Here’s a look at some foods that can help fight it.
Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, and other berries are rich in anthocyanins, the compounds behind those gorgeous red and purple colors. Anthocyanins also have anti-inflammatory properties. Studies show that berries may be especially helpful for reducing the inflammation linked to heart disease risk.
Cauliflower, along with broccoli, kale, cabbage, and other cruciferous vegetables, plays a starring role in cancer prevention. The benefit comes partly from its load of sulforaphane, an anti-cancer compound that “turns on” genes that fight inflammation.
3. Chia Seeds
Remember Chia Pets? Their “fur” was sprouts grown from chia seeds. These seeds are tiny powerhouses of nutrition, high in inflammation-fighting phenolic compounds and omega-3 fatty acids. They have a nutty flavor. Sprinkle them on salads and yogurt or add them to muffin batter.
Cocoa, the key ingredient in chocolate, is high in health-promoting flavonoid compounds. Studies suggest that cocoa can lower the levels of certain inflammatory compounds that damage blood vessel walls. By taming inflammation, cocoa may help protect against atherosclerosis and heart disease. Darker varieties of chocolate are the healthiest—enjoy in moderation!
Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats inhibit the inflammation that underlies heart disease. Fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, trout, albacore tuna, and herring, contain the most omega-3 fats.
6. Green Tea
A green tea habit might help keep your teeth and gums healthy. Green tea’s catechin compounds are potent antioxidants that stem the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth and lessen gum inflammation. Drinking green tea daily has been shown to reduce the severity of gum disease.
7. Olive Oil
Why is the Mediterranean diet so healthy? One reason is olive oil, which contains oleocanthal and other phenolic compounds. These suppress C-reactive protein and other inflammatory markers that raise the risk for heart disease. Virgin olive oil provides the most health benefits.
8. Whole Grains
Whole grains are rich in fiber and phytochemicals. Research shows that eating whole grains helps prevent cancer and heart disease. These health benefits are due in part to the phenolic compounds in grains, antioxidants with anti-inflammatory effects.