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Eat your way to strong joints, a healthy gut and more with these top anti-inflammatory foods
From obesity and cancer to diabetes and heart disease, chronic inflammation can lead to a number of health problems. Here are 10 foods to add to your diet to reduce inflammation in your body and promote a healthy immune response.
1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
High quality EVOO contains a compound called oleocanthal, an ingredient that works to fight inflammation in the same way as ibuprofen, according to Russ Greenfield, an integrative health practitioner based in North Carolina. “Go for an oil that gives a pepper taste at the back of the throat,” he says.
2. Ginger and Turmeric
“These cousins pack powerful plant nutrients that go into the body and help promote a healthy inflammatory response,” says Ashley Koff, nutrition expert and creator of the Better Nutrition Simplified program. Consume turmeric with black pepper to improve absorption.
3. Organic Berries
Try blackberries or raspberries in yogurt, granola and other breakfast foods to boost the body’s immune system. “Organic berries have to work hard to protect themselves in nature and that hard work pays off for us with more of the potent antioxidants which help clean up free radicals,” Koff says. Blueberries, in particular, are rich in polyphenols with the lowest glycemic index.
Chickpeas, lentils and black beans are all great sources of fiber, which has been shown to decrease inflammatory markers. Since all varieties are fairly rich in fiber, choose the bean that best suits your taste palate.
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Its reputation as a superfood is well-deserved, according to Marcy O’Koon, senior director of consumer health at the Arthritis Foundation. The green vegetable contains sulforaphane, a compound that blocks enzymes associated with joint estruction and systemic inflammation.
6. Purple Potatoes
A study found that eating just five ounces of purple potatoes a day for six weeks lowered men’s blood levels of c-reactive protein—a biomarker for inflammation—by 50 percent, according to O’Koon. Plus, these pretty potatoes are low in calories, with only 70 calories each.
7. Wild Salmon
Salmon and other fatty fish contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which help counteract inflammation, says Adina Fradkin, a Baltimore-based dietician. Cap intake to roughly 12 ounces of fish a week to avoid the high-mercury levels that can be found in swordfish or mackerel.
8. Nuts and Seeds
Flax and chia seeds, as well as walnuts, are also a great source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. “I really like these foods because they’re easy to add to yogurt, cereal or stir-fries, so it makes it easy to get these healthy fats into your diet,” Fradkin says.
This sweet fruit is packed with plant pigments called anthocyanins, which act as potent anti-inflammatories. “Tart cherries, especially, are loaded with them,” says O’Koon.
10. Slow-Cooked Oatmeal
One of your best breakfast bets, slow-cooked oatmeal is rich in fermentable fiber. “That helps gut microbes produce short-chain fatty acids to reduce gut inflammation,” says Barry Sears, a former research scientist at the Boston University School of Medicine and MIT and founder of DrSears.com, a site that focuses on the science of anti-inflammatory nutrition.