Inflammation. It has become such a huge topic these days and it is affecting our health! It’s a fact.
Scientists are measuring levels of inflammation in our bodies and finding that it can be pretty bad for our health, when it’s chronic (i.e. lasts a long time), like a slow burning fire.
Inflammation has been linked to obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, diabetes and arthritis, just to name a few. In fact, most health conditions have been linked to inflammation in the body.
First let’s just say that inflammation isn’t always a bad thing. It’s the body’s natural defense to heal itself in instances like injury or viruses… This is known as acute inflammation and is temporary for a short period of time during the healing process.
Then there is chronic inflammation, which is a low grade inflammation that can last for years and wreak havoc on our body.
Chronic inflammation is caused by many different factors such as; poor diet and lifestyle habits, stress and toxicity, to name a few.
But, instead of writing all about what it is, how it’s measured, and where it comes from; why don’t I focus on some foods packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidants that are proven to help reduce it?
Here are 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 favourite of yours?
Berries, grapes, and cherries are packed with fiber, antioxidants and various vitamins and minerals.
Oh, and did I forget to mention 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.
Tip: Just make sure to choose red peppers over the other colours. Did you know that peppers that are any other colour are not fully ripe and won’t have the same anti-inflammatory effect.
I pack these two super-healthy vegetables together in this week’s recipe (see below).
Anti-inflammatory Food #3: Healthy Fats (avocado, olive oil, fatty fish)
Fat can be terribly inflammatory (“trans” fats), or neutral (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 like 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. Matcha is one of my favorites. I love a matcha latté in the morning instead of coffee.
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. There have been over 10,000 studies showing the many benefits of turmeric.
I’ve added it to the broccoli and pepper recipe below for a 1-2-3 punch, to kick that inflammation.
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% cacao 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 “neuro-inflammation” (inflammation of the brain and nerves). Reducing neuro-inflammation may help with long-term memory, and reduce the risk of dementia and stroke.
But most importantly, chocolate is a significant prebiotic and feeds our good gut bacteria! It seems that the bacteria strains bifidobacterium and lactobacillus in the gut love to gobble up chocolate as much as you do.
In return for the feast, the good bacteria turn the phytonutrients in chocolate into anti-inflammatories. Isn’t your body amazing!
So go ahead and enjoy a piece (or two) of dark chocolate – guilt free. I know I will!
Make sure you avoid the sugary “candy bars.” You already know those aren’t going to be anti-inflammatory! Look for at least 70% chocolate.
There are just so many amazingly delicious and nutritious anti-inflammatory foods you can choose from. They range from colourful berries, vegetables, and spices, to healthy fats, and even cacao.
You have so many choices to add anti-inflammatory foods to your diet to get your daily dose of “anti-inflammation.”
I have included a delicious recipe for you below.
Learn to Make Sense of It All
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