The 7 Best Inflammation-Fighting Foods, According to a Nutritionist
Chronic inflammation is linked to a range of health issues, from asthma and allergies to joint pain and autoimmune disease. And while there are many factors involved, experts agree that what you eat can play an important role in fighting and preventing this type of inflammation. We asked nutritionist Katharine Kissane to recommend the best inflammation-busting ingredients to keep in our weekly rotation.
Salmon, sardines, mackerel and trout are loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, essential fats that our bodies are unable to produce and must therefore get through diet. “Omega-3 fats can help fight inflammation and lower the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer and arthritis,” Kissane explains. Aim for two to three servings of fish per week, especially fattier varieties. Salmon bowl, anyone?
Not all fats are created equal. Trans fats (like those found in margarine) and refined cooking oils (like corn and soybean) are some of the worst inflammation culprits. “But monounsaturated fats or heart healthy fats, like olive oil, have a natural anti-inflammatory benefit,” Kissane tells us. Just make sure that you choose a good quality oil, she advises. (Here are a few of our favorites.)
Amazing news: You can satisfy your sweet tooth while keeping inflammation in check. “Dark chocolate (70 percent or more) and cocoa powder contain flavanols and antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation,” Kissane explains. OK, that doesn’t mean you can eat an entire chocolate cake in the name of health—excess sugar is linked to inflammation. But a couple of squares of the good stuff (we like Alter Ego’s Dark Blackout) after dinner? Yes, please.
These nutritional powerhouses are loaded with antioxidants, including anthocyanins. These compounds are what give berries their red, blue and purple hues, and may reduce inflammation and the risk of heart disease. Enjoy them fresh from the farmers’ market or buy them frozen and whip up a quick breakfast smoothie or snack on frozen blueberry bites.
“Leafy green vegetables like collard greens, Swiss chard, spinach and kale have flavonoids which contain anti-inflammatory properties,” Kissane explains. They also provide a wide range of nutrients including vitamins A, C, E, and K—the latter in particular is known for lowering signs of inflammation in the body. For best results, add a splash of olive oil to your greens; the anti-inflammatory vitamins need fat for absorption.
These ruby red veggies are high in vitamin K and a nutrient called betaine, as well as other phytonutrients that can help reduce inflammation, Kissane tells us. Try sipping on a glass of beet juice or roasting them whole (they’re especially delicious when paired with potatoes).
These tiny legumes are high in fiber and magnesium, both of which have been shown to help reduce inflammation, says Kissane. They’re also an easy, meat-free way to add more protein to a soup or salad. (Just remember to soak them first.)