Chronic inflammation is the root cause of illness and disease. In fact, experts link inflammation to a frightening number of debilitating conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression, premature aging, and cancer. Many factors contribute to inflammation—like sun exposure and pollution—however, diet is one factor that can support or limit your body’s ability to fight inflammation.
Eating inflammatory foods like red meat, white breads and snack crackers, pastries, fried foods, and sugary beverages worsens inflammation and puts you at risk of disease. On the other hand, some foods fight inflammation and support overall health and wellness. Here are 10 foods to eat if you want to help your body combat inflammation.
If you’ve been told your diet should resemble the rainbow, that’s because colorful foods like beets are rich in antioxidants. Think of antioxidants as soldiers on the front lines, defending your body against inflammation. Beets contain an antioxidant called betalin that protects the body from damage caused by your environment and repairs damaged cells.
Blueberries are high in natural anti-inflammatory antioxidants and polyphenols. One antioxidant in blueberries is flavonoid known as quercetin. This flavonoid neutralizes free radicals that cause oxidative damage to the body’s cells. Quercetin also helps regulate the release of histamine in the body, a hormone that promotes the body’s inflammatory response.
Foods with non-GMO soy such as edamame contain isoflavones. These special compounds offer natural antioxidant protection as well as anti-inflammatory, anticancer, and antimicrobial benefits. Edamame is also a good source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, which protect against inflammatory conditions like heart disease and arthritis.
Foods from the allium family like garlic offer antioxidant benefits that limit oxidative stress and reduce your risk of cancer. Garlic is also comprised of organosulfur compounds that naturally boost immune health, so your body can effectively defend itself against illness and disease.
Green tea is best known for its antioxidant catechins and polyphenols, which have been linked to a number of health benefits. These plant-derived compounds scavenge free radicals that promote the inflammatory process. Green tea also promotes the healthy growth and repair of skin cells that may be damaged due to inflammatory skin conditions.
Hemp seeds are another plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids. However, hemp seeds also contain a type of omega-6 fatty acid known as gamma-linolenic acid. GLA’s role in the body is to moderate the inflammatory response, thereby limiting damage to healthy cells.
Dark green, leafy vegetables like Swiss chard contain antioxidant flavonoids and carotenoids that prevent free radical damage and support tissue repair. Swiss chard also contains Vitamins A and C, which play significant roles in fighting inflammation in the body and promoting healthy cellular growth.
The skins of tomatoes contain a potent antioxidant known as lycopene, which is responsible for their bright colors. Lycopene naturally reduces inflammation in the body and lowers risk of heart disease and cancer. Tomatoes also contain the essential nutrients ascorbic acid and α-tocopherol, which defend against lipid oxidations that results in cell damage.
Turmeric is a spice used widely in East Asian dishes. Turmeric contains the powerful antioxidant curcumin, which has been shown to have anti-inflammatory benefits. Curcumin fights inflammation by regulating the levels of two key enzymes that promote the inflammatory response. The active ingredient in turmeric also reduces blood clotting, and may even reduce arthritis pain according to some experts.
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