Abigail Joy Dougherty: Registered Dietitian, Nutrition Expert & Lover of Life
2015, Fruits and Vegetables, Ginger, Healthy Eating, Lifestyle Changes, Mindful Eating, National Nutrition Month, Nutrition, Registered Dietitian, Superfoods

The Power of Anti-inflammatory Foods!

The Power of Anti-inflammatory Foods


(Photo compliments of eatdrinkbetter.com)

You may have heard that behind every nagging ailment  (illnesses, injuries, and chronic diseases) is long-term or “chronic inflammation,” but what exactly causes this long-term inflammation and what are some natural ways in which you can decrease chronic inflammation and decrease your risk of falling victim to those ailments?

Inflammation is a natural part of the body’s immune response that aids in the healing process and delivers nourishment to the site of injury or illness; without it, we can’t heal. But when it’s out of control and becomes chronic, it can damage the body and lead to various chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, and cancer. Unfortunately, many factors – stress (both physical and emotional), lack of exercise, genetic predisposition, and exposure to toxins in our environment – can all contribute to chronic inflammation and increase your risk for developing chronic diseases later in life.

But have no fear; I bring you good news! The good news is that changing your diet can help prevent or even reverse the inflammatory process! According to Jack Challem, author of The Inflammation Syndrome, 

Our daily diet and the foods we eat are the most effective–and safest–means of preventing inflammation…the body is quite capable of making its own anti-inflammatory compounds as long as we eat the right foods.”

Read on to learn how specific foods have anti-inflammatory properties and can influence the inflammatory process and reduce long-term disease risks!

Top 5 Anti-inflammatory Foods:

1) Ginger:

Reduces inflammation and reduces pain sensation (similar to NSAIDS). Grate fresh ginger root and add a half to full teaspoon to ice water, hot tea or fruit smoothies, or sprinkle it onto fresh fruit and cooked vegetables like broccoli, bok choy or snow peas. For real ginger (not just flavoring) on-the-go, look for organic crystallized chews, available at stores like Whole Foods.

2) Tart Cherries:

Reduces pain sensation and signs of muscle damage. Select fresh whole tart cherries (in season in late summer) and eat them as is or on top of Greek yogurt or plain rolled oats or select bags of whole pitted frozen cherries (with no sugar or other ingredients added) and blend them into a smoothie! Try this BERRY tasty Banana Berry Cherry smoothie from Incredible Smoothies to get the ant-inflammatory effects and reduce muscle damage!


(Photo compliments of Incredible Smoothies)

3) Sardines and Salmon (or Fish Oils):

These fatty fish are high in EPA and DHA (essential fatty acids) that are powerful anti-inflammatory agents. Just 2.5 oz of sardines provide the 1,000 mg of combined DHA and EPA needed daily. Can find canned sardines and salmon at any local grocery store (just look for “canned in water” versions).

4) Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO):

Similar anti-inflammatory and pain reducing effects of ibuprofen. Stick with extra virgin, which indicates the highest quality and flavor. It’s made from the first pressing of the olives and captures the most antioxidants. Drizzle EVOO on a plate as a dip, make it your staple for sautéing spinach, slather it on veggie kabobs before tossing on the grill, or top your garden or tomato salads as a salad dressing. Try this simple, yet savory olive oil dressing recipe from AllRecipes.com on your next salad or use it a a dip for whole grain bread!

olive oil dressing

(Photo compliments of AllRecipes.com)

5) Turmeric:

Shown to lower levels of two enzymes that fuel inflammation and increase each cell’s resistance to damage, infection and inflammation. This spice is commonly found in curry dishes (Thai and Indian foods) or you can sprinkle some turmeric onto scrambled eggs, cubed potatoes, or roasted and grilled vegetables. Try this turrrr-ific Chicken Curry and Vegetables recipe from Joy Bauer with the perfect combination of turmeric and ginger!

turmeric chicken recipe

(Photo compliments of JoyBauer.com)

Other “anti-inflammatory” foods and beverages:

  • Whole grains (unprocessed, alkaline grains such as millet, teff, quinoa, brown rice, oats…)
  • Leafy greens (kale, spinach, collard greens…)
  • Broccoli
  • Blueberries
  • Pineapple
  • Raw nuts and seeds (almonds, walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds…)
  • Avocado
  • Sweet potato
  • Shitake mushrooms
  • Garlic, basil
  • Papaya
  • Tart cherry juice: same as whole tart cherries
  • Green tea: contain catechins, which are antioxidant compounds and reduce inflammation

Foods to avoid (actually cause inflammation):

  • Sugar
  • Alcohol
  • Fried Foods
  • Red Meat
  • Hydrogenated and trans fats
  • Dairy products and wheat products (for some)
  • Artificial flavorings / ingredients
  • White and refined flours

do not eat(Photo compliments of becuo.com)

bad foods

(Photo compliments of www.buzzle.com)

So there you have it! The “do’s” and the “don’ts” when it comes to fighting inflammation with the foods you eat (or don’t eat)!

Bon Appétit!

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