“You are what you eat” isn’t literally true, but it is a reminder that diet matters. Here are some top anti-inflammatory foods you should be eating.
What you eat directly affects your health. Consuming excessive sugar, alcohol, or highly processed foods stripped of most of their nutrients makes you vulnerable to diseases such as heart disease and obesity and may worsen chronic conditions such as arthritis and diabetes.
When challenged by a disease-causing pathogen such as a virus, the body responds by heating up—that’s why a fever is a signature of an infection. Inflammatory responses to these invaders can also appear as swelling or redness.
When the natural inflammatory response of the immune system has done its job of fighting off illness, the inflammation is supposed to recede. When it doesn’t, your body enters a state of chronic inflammation, raising the risks of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and even depression and Alzheimer’s disease. Because of the risks associated with inflammation, it’s essential to implement some of the top anti-inflammatory foods into your diet.
Persistent inflammation may be related to what you eat. Red meat, fried foods, sugary sodas, refined carbohydrates, processed meats, and certain fats contribute to inflammation. The good news is, there are foods you can eat that combat chronic inflammation. Here are a few of the top anti-inflammatory foods you should be eating:
Blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries are all packed with antioxidants and vitamins. The antioxidant anthocyanin reduces the activity of cell-damaging free radicals in the body. Their cell-protecting action reduces inflammation and wards off diseases such as cancer and heart disease.
One of the “good” fats, extra-virgin olive oil is rich in antioxidant polyphenols, which reduce inflammation, cholesterol levels, and possibly the risk of cancer. It also contains monounsaturated fats, which are good for blood vessels. Olive oil has a low smoke point and is best used in salad dressings.
Another food filled with “good” fat, avocados also provide the essential minerals potassium and magnesium. They can help you lose weight, and any time you reduce obesity, you can reduce inflammation.
Salmon, mackerel, sardines, and tuna are rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. These fish also provide a variety of minerals and vitamins, such as vitamin B-12, vitamin D, selenium, and potassium.
Green, Leafy Vegetables
You already know you should be eating more spinach—plus some chard and kale. Spinach is high in folic acid, and all dark green leafies have antioxidant properties.
Turmeric, Ginger, Garlic, and Cinnamon
Sometimes you can find better health in your spice cabinet. Curcumin is the active anti-inflammatory in turmeric. Ginger contains an anti-inflammatory substance called gingerol. Garlic is antifungal, antibacterial, and extremely flavorful. It can reduce cholesterol and ease high blood pressure.
No single food can solve inflammation. Instead, a diet filled with colorful, antioxidant-rich variety can help you lose weight and help your body calm inflammation that contributes to disease. Know the top anti-inflammatory foods to incorporate into your diet and care plan. Dr. Philip Rabito is an endocrinologist on the Upper East Side of NYC who can help you create an anti-inflammatory diet plan for better health.