Inflammation. It’s not just for health headlines.

It’s a fact.

Scientists are measuring levels of inflammation in our bodies and finding that it can be pretty bad for our health; this is especially true when it becomes chronic, or lasts a long time.

Inflammation has been linked to obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes, just to name a few.

But, instead of writing all about what it is, how it’s measured, and where it comes from; let’s focus on some foods packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidants that are proven to help reduce it?

Here are a few of my top anti-inflammatory food recommendations:

Anti-inflammatory Food #1: Berries, Grapes, and Cherries

Why save the best for last? Perhaps the most amazingly delicious anti-inflammatory foods are a sweet favorite of yours?

Berries, grapes, and cherries are packed with fiber, antioxidant vitamins (e.g. vitamin C) and minerals (e.g. manganese).

Oh, and don’t forget about their phytochemicals (phyto=plant)! Yes, many antioxidants such as “anthocyanins” and “resveratrol”  are found in these small and delicious fruits.

In fact, berries, grapes, and cherries may be the best dietary sources of these amazingly healthy compounds.

Anti-inflammatory Food #2: Broccoli and Peppers

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that contains the antioxidant “sulforaphane.” This anti-inflammatory compound is associated with reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.

Bell peppers, on the other hand, are one of the best sources of the antioxidants vitamin C and quercetin. Just make sure to choose red peppers over the other colors.  Peppers that are any other color are not fully ripe and won’t have the same anti-inflammatory effect.

TIP: If you have degenerative arthritis, pay attention to your body when you eat peppers. Nightshade vegetables, including peppers, tomatoes and eggplants among others, can sometimes be aggravating to arthritis pain.

But these are a couple of my favorites, so I pack them together in this week’s recipe (see below).

Anti-inflammatory Food #3: Healthy Fats (avocado, olive oil, fatty fish)

Fat can be terribly inflammatory (hello: “trans” fats), neutral (hello: saturated fats), or anti-inflammatory (hello: “omega-3s). This is why choosing the right fats is so important for your health.

The best anti-inflammatory fats are the unsaturated ones, including omega-3s. These are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

Opt for fresh avocados, extra virgin olive oil, small fish (e.g. sardines and mackerel), and wild fish (e.g. salmon). Oh and don’t forget the omega-3 seeds like chia, hemp, and flax.

Anti-inflammatory Food #4: Green Tea

Green tea contains the anti-inflammatory compound called “epigallocatechin-3-gallate”, otherwise known as EGCG.

EGCG is linked to reduced risk of heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, and Alzheimer’s.

Drinking steeped green tea is great, but have you tried matcha green tea? It’s thought to contain even higher levels of antioxidants than regular green tea. But be aware that when you order it from some of our favorite coffee shops, some of those benefits are lost when combined with the high amounts of sugar also added to them.

Anti-inflammatory Food #5 – Turmeric

Would a list of anti-inflammatory foods be complete without the amazing spice turmeric?

Turmeric contains the antioxidant curcumin.

This compound has been shown to reduce the pain of arthritis, as well as have anti-cancer and anti-diabetes properties.

I add it into my smoothies every day, but I’ve also added it to the broccoli and pepper recipe below for a 1-2-3 punch, to kick that inflammation. Just remember that you need to combine it with black pepper to get the most bang for you buck.

And it also functions as a blood thinner, so if you are taking any medications for that purpose or others, consult with your pharmacist before taking any significant amounts of turmeric.

Anti-inflammatory Food #6: Dark Chocolate

Ok, ok. This MAY be slightly more decadent than my #1 pick of berries, grapes, and cherries.

Dark chocolate, with at least 70% cocoa is packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidants (namely “flavonols”). These reduce the risk of heart disease by keeping your arteries healthy. They’ve even been shown to prevent neuroinflammation (inflammation of the brain and nerves). Reducing neuroinflammation may help with long-term memory, and reduce the risk of dementia and stroke.

Make sure you avoid the sugary “candy bars.” You already know those aren’t going to be anti-inflammatory!

Conclusion

There are so many amazingly delicious and nutritious anti-inflammatory foods you can choose. They range from colorful berries, vegetables, and spices, to healthy fats, and even cocoa.

There are so many reasons to add anti-inflammatory foods to your diet to get your daily dose of “anti-inflammation.”