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Inflammation is the body’s natural response when it’s injured, but too much of it over time can actually be detrimental to your overall health. Fortunately, certain foods can help reduce inflammation and improve your wellbeing. Read on to discover eight of the best anti-inflammatory foods to add to your diet and easy ways to incorporate them in your daily meals.
Blueberries are one of the best anti-inflammatory fruits thanks to their anthocyanins, which are water-soluble vacuolar pigments with unique anti-inflammatory effects. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre, and also quercetin, a flavonoid that can help fight inflammation and diseases including cancer. Blueberries not only shine as a snack, but can also be added to salad, puréed into a jam, or used in sweet treats like sauces, olive oil cakes or a fruity crumble.
Extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO) is another staple in an anti-inflammatory diet. Rich in monounsaturated fats, oleocanthal and polyphenol, it helps reduce inflammation. Studies have found that consuming EVOO on a regular basis can help lower the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP). Furthermore, EVOO is a very versatile ingredient to use in cooking, for anything from salad dressings to roast vegetables and pasta dishes.
Walnuts are also rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly alpha-linolenic and linoleic acids. This can help reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, relax blood vessels and reduce blood pressure. While delicious on their own, walnuts are also a great addition to salads and tarts, in stir-fries, or as a topping for cheese platters.
Fatty fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring also contain a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids which can help reduce inflammation. These fish are also full of disease-fighting antioxidants, and can be cooked in a variety of ways, like pan-fried, grilled, oven-baked in a tray of roast vegetables, or in a creamy pasta bake.
For those of you with a sweet tooth, dark chocolate offers some anti-inflammatory benefits too. It is packed full of antioxidant plant compounds such as polyphenols and catechins, and flavanols, which helps keep the endothelial cells lining your arteries healthy.
Turmeric is another anti-inflammatory food that can help reduce chronic inflammation. It contains curcumin, a natural compound that has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric is commonly used in curries, stews, soups, scrambled eggs and pancakes. You can also make a turmeric tea or latte by simmering the turmeric root or powder in water or milk for five minutes and straining.
Chia seeds are also high in fibre and calcium, and contain a good ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. Regular consumption of chia seeds has been found to reduce inflammation, and they’re incredibly easy to add to your diet – sprinkling them on your morning porridge or muesli, making a chia pudding or overnight oats, or blended into a fruity jam.
Last but not least, broccoli is another cruciferous vegetable that’s rich in anti-inflammatory properties. Its antioxidants, flavonoids and carotenoids work together to reduce oxidative stress and battle chronic inflammation, as well as boost your immune system. Try to lightly cook broccoli to retain its nutritional value, and add it to a stir-fry, curry, salad or pasta.
Adding some of these anti-inflammatory foods to a well-balanced diet can reduce inflammation, help prevent chronic and degenerative diseases, and also keep your body strong and healthy