Chronic inflammation in the body can result in damage and is involved in many chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, arthritis and cancer.
There are some particularly inflaming foods we should avoid eating a lot of, including:
- Refined carbohydrates (white bread, white pasta, pastries and baked goods)
- Soft drink and other sugary beverages
- Deep fried foods (takeout, hot chips)
- Margarine and other processed spreads
- Red and processed meat (steaks, burgers, sausages, salami)
It’s best to limit these foods or avoid them altogether if you find your body has an inflammatory response to them.
Enough with the ‘can’t haves’, let’s move on to the food we should be eating more of!
There are many foods which counteract inflammation in the body. Try adding more of these to your diet.
Tomatoes are often maligned as an inflammatory food, but there is no reliable evidence that tomatoes (and the rest of the nightshade family) are inflammatory at all. In fact, they contain many useful nutrients and phytochemicals which are beneficial to our health.
The tomato is, in fact, a nutritional powerhouse. High in potassium, vitamin C and lycopene, an antioxidant with remarkable anti-inflammatory properties.
Top tip: Cooking tomatoes will release more lycopene. Cook in olive oil as lycopene is a carotenoid, which is a fat-soluble nutrient.
Oily fish. Oh yes!
Fatty fish like sardines, anchovies, mackerel, salmon and herring are excellent sources of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, including EPA and DHA (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid).
Both EPA and DHA reduce inflammation. How? The effect happens after your body metabolises them into compounds called resolvins and protectins, which have anti-inflammatory outcomes.
Research shows that the reduction in inflammation caused by omega-3s can lower your risk of heart disease, cancer and arthritis.
Premium olive oil
Olive oil is a rich source of monounsaturated fats and is linked to a reduction in the risk of heart disease, cancer and other chronic health conditions.
An antioxidant found in olive oil called oleocanthal has even been compared to anti-inflammatory medicine ibuprofen in its effectiveness against inflammation.
Note that the quality of your olive oil is crucial. Benefits are more significant in extra virgin olive oil as opposed to more refined varieties.
Fresh fruit and vegetables
It’s not just tomatoes that make our list, most fruit and veg are rich in flavonoids and carotenoids with both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Fruits and vegetables also contain antioxidants vitamin A, C and E, all of which help reduce inflammation.
As a general rule, the brighter the colour of the fruit or vegetable the more likely it’s full of the above.
Look out for carrots, berries, spinach, pumpkin, oranges and other colourful produce.
Antioxidant quercetin is a particularly potent antioxidant. You’ll find it in dark berries, citrus fruits and olive oil. It’s what makes blueberries such a well-known ‘superfood’.
Want all the benefits of these anti-inflammatory foods, but don’t want to hit the supermarket or do any of the cooking?
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