Inflammation is the body’s response to injury so that it can heal and repair damaged tissue. There are two types of inflammation: acute and chronic. Acute inflammation is usually due to an injury, lasts a short time, and is characterized by redness, swelling, heat, and pain. Chronic inflammation is caused by one of more of the following: environmental toxins, infection, poor nutrition, stress, and processes related to aging. It lasts weeks, months, or years. Chronic inflammation can lead to increased risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
The good news is that what you eat can help! Try to eat more of the following six foods to reduce your inflammation, thereby improving your overall health and reducing your risk of chronic disease:
- Tomatoes contain the powerful antioxidant lycopene, which helps reduce inflammation. Add fresh tomatoes to salads, snack on grape tomatoes, and use canned tomatoes in soups, stews, and casseroles. Be sure to look for low-salt or no-salt-added tomatoes when you buy canned.
- Fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cherries, and oranges are good choices. They’re loaded with antioxidants and fiber, and they’re a delicious option for dessert.
- Nuts and seeds contain fiber and protein as well as heart healthy Omega-3 fats. Try a variety of nuts and nut butters made without added sugar. A handful of nuts or some nut butter spread on a piece of fruit makes a great snack.
- Olive oil is a rich source of monounsaturated fats, and it contains oleocanthal, an antioxidant that reduces inflammation. Cook with olive oil and use it to make a salad dressing or marinade by mixing it with a tasty vinegar or lemon juice and herbs.
- Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and collards have lots of vitamins and other nutrients that have been found to reduce inflammation.
- Fatty fish, including salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines, are excellent protein sources, and they are rich sources of Omega-3 fats. Try to eat fish two to three times per week to maximize the anti-inflammatory benefits.