Foods to Calm Inflammation
These foods not only reduce chronic inflammation in the body, they also provide the essential building blocks for reaching and maintaining a healthy weight and having more energy. Try adding one or more of the following foods to your diet:
- Hot Peppers. The capsaicin found in cayenne, serrano, jalapeño and all hot chilis serves as a natural alternative to anti-inflammatory drugs. Capsaicin works to inhibit the COX-2 enzyme, a known cause of inflammation in arthritis and other inflammatory diseases in the body.
- Apples and Onions. These contain quercetin, a natural histamine inhibitor that helps the body fight environmental allergies—a cause of inflammation. Keep in mind that quercetin is found in the skin of apples, so buy organic and eat them whole.
- Pineapple. This sweet tropical fruit contains an anti-inflammatory compound called bromelain, which contains enzymes that have been proven to suppress inflammation and pain in the body by minimizing swelling. Bromelain loses its anti-inflammatory value when heated, so go for fresh, whole pineapple instead of the heat-processed canned variety.
- Dark, Leafy Green Vegetables. These good-for-everything veggies contain alpha-linolenic acid, an omega-3 that has similar anti-inflammatory benefits as the omega-3s found in fish.
- Flaxseeds, Walnuts, Pumpkinseeds. Like dark, leafy greens, these nuts and seeds also contain all-important omega-3s. Choose raw nuts, not toasted, because roasting temperatures destroy omega-3s. For a “toasted” nut taste, soak nuts in water overnight and use a dehydrator to give them a crunchy bite.
- Oily, Cold-Water Fish. Salmon, mackerel, and sardines are all packed with omega-3s, which reduce the production of pro-inflammatory hormones in the body. Remember to choose wild Pacific or Alaskan salmon, or organically and sustainably farm-raised varieties, which have been shown to have the lowest mercury levels. Also, keep in mind that most of the omega-3 fats in these fish are in the “brown fat” near the skin. Scrape it with your fork, or make sure to eat the whole fish, skin and all. Gentle poaching and quick searing are good cooking methods for keeping omega-3s intact.
- Olives And Olive Oil. The oleic acid in olives and olive oil contain omega-9 fatty acids, which help omega-3s do their anti-inflammatory job. Skip over “light” olive oil, and go for strong, green, and unrefined varieties. And keep in mind that raw olive oil has the most anti-inflammatory properties; heating can lessen its nutritional benefits.