Inflammation is like a double-edged sword. On one hand, it’s important for fighting off potentially harmful pathogens or initiating tissue repair after a scrape or cut.
On the other hand, however, chronic inflammation is linked to several diseases such as cancer, heart disease and arthritis.
One of the best ways to combat chronic inflammation is not through medications but through food.
This article lists the six best anti-inflammatory foods.
Blueberries contain several phytochemicals, which are considered to have beneficial effects on health. Anthocyanin is one of the phytochemicals that is best known for its anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.
One study looked at the ability of blueberry extract, among five other berry extracts, to inhibit the growth of oral, breast, colon, and prostate tumor cells in various amounts (1).
It was found that the greater amounts of blueberry, the greater the inhibition of tumor growth translating to a reduction in cancer risk.
If you didn’t have a reason to eat breakfast before, you have one now. Oats contain beta-glucans which may have beneficial effects on decreasing obesity risks and can boost the immune system to help fight cancer (2).
Research also shows that consuming three grams of beta-glucans per day (an amount found in three packets of instant oatmeal) can decrease cholesterol levels — important for reducing heart disease risk (3).
Add blueberries to your morning oats for an added bonus.
Nearly 60% of Americans turn to a cup of Joe to get their day started. But coffee has more than just caffeine, it’s also high in antioxidants.
In fact, research suggests that Americans get more antioxidants from coffee than from fruits and vegetables combined. One study found that drinking coffee reduced inflammation and improved heart health (3).
The dietary guidelines state that moderate coffee consumption (three to five cups per day) can be part of a healthy diet (4).
Both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are essential for health. The ratio in which Americans consume them, however, is a potential cause for many of the diseases in modern society.
American’s consume too much omega-6 fatty acids from processed foods and vegetable oils and not enough omega-3 fatty acids.
One way to boost your ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids is to consume salmon, which is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D, at least twice per week.
Garlic not only keeps vampires away but it may just keep your immune system running strong.
The beneficial health effects of garlic cloves are related to its sulfur-rich containing compounds. Observational research has shown a link between the consumption of garlic and a decrease in colon and stomach cancers.
Make sure to reach for the fresh garlic, as it has higher anti-inflammatory properties compared to supplemental aged-garlic (5).
The humble beet has a lot to offer. It’s shown to improve exercise performance, lower blood pressure and even fight inflammation (6).
Beets are high in nitrate, which when consumed, are converted to nitrate and finally nitric oxide. Nitric oxide plays several important roles, one of which is keeping blood vessels strong and healthy.
One study found that consuming beets for two weeks significantly lowered blood pressure and improved markers of inflammation compared with placebo (7).
The Bottom Line
Inflammation is part of your body’s immune reaction to infections, wounds and other damage to tissues.
While some inflammation is good, too much of it can be harmful.
Incorporating more anti-inflammatory foods into your diet is one way to boost your body’s immune system and reduce your risk of many chronic diseases.