Knowing which foods cause inflammation and which foods are anti-inflammatory is one of the best ways to avoid illness and safeguard your overall health. (We know, it’s hard to have a conversation these days without the term “inflammation” coming up!)
Picture this: chronic inflammation is like smoldering embers in a fire pit. When the wrong kind of fuel—AKA inflammatory foods that act like buckets of lighter fluid—is added, everything ignites and burns out of control, causing disease. Eating anti-inflammatory foods, on the other hand, is like stocking up on buckets of water to keep things from getting out of hand.
And if ignition does happen, your body will be more equipped to fight the fire, since it’s got a supply of extinguishers—nutrients like antioxidants and organosulfur compounds—ready and waiting.
Supplements can help, too, but foods are generally more powerful since many contain several different anti-inflammatory components. (They’re the complete package!)
Here are the seven anti-inflammatory foods you should add to your diet, now.
7 Anti-Inflammatory Foods
1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil’s many health benefits are partially attributed to its ability to prevent inflammation. It contains oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat linked to reducing inflammation and is loaded with powerful antioxidants, the compounds that battle free radicals. Just be sure to reach for cold-pressed extra-virgin.
Organosulfur compounds in garlic have been found to inhibit inflammatory enzymes and to decrease production of inflammatory signaling molecules in the blood.
This cruciferous veggie contains an antioxidant called sulforaphane, which has been shown to reduce levels of inflammatory compounds. It’s also linked to reduced risk of diseases like heart disease and cancer, which may be attributable to its anti-inflammatory powers.
Trendy turmeric has a good reputation for a reason. It’s filled with curcumin, which acts as a powerful antioxidant to fight free radicals while at the same time lowering levels of enzymes that cause inflammation. It’s like the Superman of anti-inflammatory foods.
In addition to its brain health and blood pressure benefits, cinnamon contains cinnamaldehyde, an antioxidant that inhibits expression of inflammatory compounds.
Strawberries are kind of a do-it-all anti-inflammatory food. They contain a trifecta of powerful antioxidants—vitamin C, anthocyanin, and glutathione. That’s likely why studies have shown eating them regularly can reduce inflammatory markers.
Apple skins contain anthocyanins (that’s where they get the red color), antioxidants that reduce inflammatory responses. Just don’t peel your apple before taking a crunchy bite.