The word anti-inflammatory gets widely misused in the nutrition industry, and many supplements are promoted in the name of having extraordinary anti-inflammatory properties.
But do we ever pause and take a moment to understand why inflammation is unhealthy for us? And what role can food play in curbing inflammation? If you said yes to these questions, let’s first dive deep into what inflammation is and what foods you can incorporate into your diet to control the harmful effects of inflammation on your body.
Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods for Heart Health
Inflammation is our body’s natural response to any illness or damage. Inflammation happens when our body’s damaged tissues signal white blood cells to start the healing process and do some damage control. Light and low-grade inflammation occur occasionally in the body, but the real trouble starts when the inflammation persists.
This points to the fact that our body is constantly inflamed, which can, in turn, cause a variety of health diseases like cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular conditions.
No matter how impairing the effects of inflammation might be, recent studies have shown that the food you consume has a significant impact on the amount of C-reactive protein (CRP), an inflammatory marker, in your blood.
Experts suggest that our diet plays a significant role in combating inflammation. By changing our diet, we can effectively lower our inflammation and not be dependent on external medications that do more harm to the body than good.
Although there isn’t a structured diet plan that outlines how and what to eat to reduce inflammation, there are certain anti-inflammatory foods that you can consume to eliminate inflammation-causing toxins from your body.
Read on to find our curated list of the top ten anti-inflammatory foods that not only help our bodies avoid inflammation but also protect our general health and wellbeing.
Broccoli is an anti-inflammatory food that has an abundance of Vitamin K and C along with fiber. Like cauliflower, it is also a cruciferous vegetable, which means it helps decrease the risk of chronic heart diseases and cancer. The presence of sulforaphane, which is an antioxidant, gives broccoli its anti-inflammatory properties.
Sulforaphane also reduces cytokines in the body, which is the driving substance for inflammation in the body. Additionally, broccoli contains other antioxidants such as flavonoids kaempferol and quercetin that serve the same purpose.
Kale is high in vitamins A, C, and K and calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium. It is also low in salt, calories and contains some fiber. These rich nutrients, along with rich anti-inflammatory compounds like phytonutrients and antioxidants, protect the body systems from cellular harm. Just like broccoli, it is also a cruciferous vegetable providing similar advantages.
Berries are packed with minerals, vitamins, and fibers like strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, etc. Anthocyanins are the antioxidants found in berries. These chemicals make it anti-inflammatory food and also lower the risk of illness. For example, a study found out that adults who ate strawberries have reduced inflammatory markers linked to heart disease.
Consumption of blueberries leads to the production of more NK cells responsible for keeping the immune system in order. It is the presence of Anthocyanins in blueberries that give it its unique blue color.
The Mediterranean diet, linked to a healthy heart and increased lifespan, includes olive oil as a critical component. It contains monounsaturated fats, which are excellent for your blood vessels, and polyphenols, which act as antioxidants protecting the immune system.
In a study about the Mediterranean diet, CRP and other inflammatory markers were lower in individuals who drank 50 ml of olive oil every day. Olive oil also contains an antioxidant called oleocanthal which is as strong as medicines like ibuprofen, and its versatile properties make it an anti-inflammatory food like no other.
Mushrooms include beta-glucan, a long-chain polysaccharide that supports a robust immune system, as well as ergothioneine, a potent antioxidant that can help combat inflammation. They are also rich in vitamin B, copper, and protein. There exists a variety of mushrooms, but the edible ones are shiitake mushrooms, portobello mushrooms, and truffles. It is better to eat them raw than cooked to avoid losing anti-inflammatory compounds.
Turmeric is a strong taste spice commonly used in Indian foods like curry. It contains curcumin, a potent anti-inflammatory ingredient that helps decrease inflammation caused by diabetes and other illnesses. It is recommended to have turmeric with black pepper since it helps in intensifying the absorption of curcumin.
Salmon is a type of fatty fish. These fatty fish have the highest concentration of omega-3 fatty acids of any fish or seafood. The omega-3 fatty acids aid in the battle against inflammation, reduce the probability of serious illnesses, and even enhance mental health, making them a powerful anti-inflammatory food. This is done by metabolizing the acids into proteins and resolvins by the body, which has anti-inflammatory effects.
It also has a healthy antioxidant called astaxanthin. The credibility of salmon can be justified by The American Heart Association, which recommends eating fatty fish like salmon at least two times a week due to the presence of the healthy omega-3s.
Avocados contain an abundance of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, as well as fiber, potassium, and magnesium. They are also low in salt and contain carotenoids and tocopherols, which reduce the risk of cancer and inflammation. Along with this, avocados will fulfill your vitamin A, B, C, and E requirements. They can be added as guacamole; their slices can be put in sandwiches or salads.
When planning an anti-inflammatory diet, you can select your favorite nuts among almonds, cashews, and walnuts. People who claimed they ate nuts five or more times per week had reduced levels of inflammatory biomarkers, including CRP and interleukin-6, in their blood, according to the research of over 5,000 individuals published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Almonds are also a source of monounsaturated fats, which are proved to reduce inflammation. Walnuts also contain similar fats and omega-3 acids along with phytochemicals called sterols.
Dark Chocolates are well known to contain rich antioxidants. They are delicious and satisfying. They are known in popular culture to reduce aging and reduce inflammation. They contain Flavonoids which are the reason for the anti-inflammation properties by keeping the endothelial cells healthy. These cells control the health of the arteries. It is recommended to choose dark chocolates containing a higher level of cocoa (at least more than 70%) to enjoy the benefits of this tremendous anti-inflammatory food.
Authored By : Tanya Thukral
About Author : Tanya is an Ayurvedic doctor who has a deep interest in spreading the message of healing and restoration through the age-old systems of Ayurveda and Yoga.