Inflammation is at the heart of the human condition. It’s the most common variable across every major chronic condition affecting the human body—including aging! The day science learns how to absolve the body of chronic inflammation could be the day we double our lifespan as humans. Until then, we’ll have to settle for finding little ways to tame the inflammatory response our bodies are so quick to trigger.
Diet has the most bearing on the inflammatory response, and it’s our biggest weapon in taming inflammation. Eating processed, sugary, salty foods is almost sure to evoke an inflammatory response. Conversely, there’s a whole host of foods out there that can mitigate inflammation and even help prevent some of the inflammation-related conditions people suffer from. Here’s a look at nine of the most powerful inflammation fighters.
- Berries: Pick a bunch of just about any berry and you’ve got some of the most powerful inflammation fighters in the world in the palm of your hand. Eating a fresh medley of strawberry, blackberry, blueberry and raspberry each day can give your body powerful protection against an inflammatory response.
- Kale and spinach: Greens like kale and spinach are good for you anyway because of the many vitamins and nutrients they offer. They’re also great inflammatory safeguards and can help reduce inflammation via their antioxidants. The real secret weapon? High sulforaphane content, which stops inflammatory-causing cytokines in their tracks.
- Avocado: A true superfood, avocados offer so many reasons to love them! They’re extremely high in potassium, fiber and heart-healthy fats, which all contribute to better health and wellness overall. They also contain AV119, a natural sugar that’s linked to a reduction in inflammation.
- Peppers: Many people extol the benefits of peppers for their capsaicin—an extremely nutritious compound that can boost the immune system. What many people might not realize is that they’re also incredibly effective as anti-inflammatories. They contain anti-oxidants such as sinapic acid, ferulic acid and quercetin, which can tame the body’s inflammatory response.
- Salmon: There’s so much to love about fatty fish, namely because of their EPA and DHA content. Omega-3 fatty acids are key in promoting all sorts of health benefits in the body, and taming inflammation is one of them. The body metabolizes these fatty acids into resolvins and protectins, which—you guessed it—resolve inflammation and protect against it.
- Mushrooms: There are tons of mushroom varieties out there. For inflammation, you’ll want to look at portobello and shitake mushrooms, specifically. These two varieties are powerhouses of anti-inflammatory properties and are proven to reduce low-grade inflammation associated with chronic pain. Its best to eat them raw or gently sautéed in olive oil.
- Ginger and turmeric: Ginger and turmeric are often associated with each other because they have a complementary taste profile. That’s not all they have in common! Combined, they’re a powerful inflammation-fighting duo. The curcumin of the turmeric and the inherent inflammation-calming prospects of ginger are often best enjoyed in brewed tea or as seasonings in some dishes.
- Green tea: Less a food and more a drink, green tea is nevertheless one of the best things to put in your body if you’re fighting off chronic inflammation. Green tea is superbly antioxidant and anti-inflammatory thanks to epigallocatechin-3-gallate, which protects the body’s cardiovascular structure.
- Dark chocolate: If you’re someone who prefers their treats on the bitter side, dark chocolate and cocoa are right on the money for helping you fight against inflammation. Chocolates with 70% cocoa or higher have been proven to protect your body’s cells against inflammation thanks to flavanols. On top of inflammation benefits, dark chocolate is also linked to improved heart health and anti-aging properties.
Noticing a trend on this list? Each of these foods, beyond being an effective anti-inflammatory, is also widely recognized as a “superfood” or a heavily-touted dietary addition. They’re all jam-packed with nutrients and helpful compounds that are good for your body in various different ways!
The key to keeping inflammation in check is to find more ways to incorporate these foods into your everyday diet and eating habits. Choose dark chocolate instead of a candy bar off the shelf. Enjoy fresh salmon for dinner, instead of takeout. Add a side of mushrooms to your salad. Every little bit helps your body—especially if you’re prone to chronic inflammation.
Inflammation may be the human condition, but that doesn’t mean you have to live with it! Incorporate these foods into your diet today and take a stand against your body’s overactive immune response.