INFLAMMATION. JOINT PAIN. ANTI-INFLAMMATORY. These buzz words seem to be absolutely everywhere these days.
Who in the health and wellness field is NOT talking about the infamous inflammation and how it affects our joints as we age. And the subsequent effect of that.
Some say it’s the root cause of all disease.
Everyone wants to tell you how to kick it to the curb.
The good news is that our diet can play a huge role in helping to reduce inflammation and joint pain.
Inflammation. It’s not just for health headlines. It’s a fact.
Scientists are measuring levels of inflammation in our bodies and finding that it can be pretty bad for our health; this is especially true when it’s chronic (i.e. lasts a long time).
Inflammation has been linked to obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes, just 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 favorite of yours? Berries, grapes, and cherries are packed with fiber, and antioxidant vitamins (e.g. vitamin C) and minerals (e.g. manganese).
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.
Tip: When in season there’s nothing that beats a fresh bowl of berries. But depending where you live, these are not always available. Prep ahead and freeze berries when in season, or purchase frozen so they are always on hand. they are easy to throw into a smoothie, or combine with some healthy grains for a Quinoa Breakfast Parfait or Overnight Soaked Oatmeal.
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.
Just make sure to choose red peppers over the other colors. Peppers that are any other color 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 (hello: “trans” fats), neutral (hello: 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 (e.g. salmon). Oh and don’t forget the omega-3 seeds like chia, hemp, and flax.
Bored of your same old salad dressings? Try this Orange Hemp Seed Dressing full of anti-inflammatory fats.
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.
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.
I’ve added it to the broccoli and pepper recipe below for a 1-2-3 punch, to kick that inflammation. But I’ve also got a delicious Peach Turmeric smoothie recipe you can try HERE.
Anti-inflammatory Food #6: Dark Chocolate
Ok, This *may* be slightly more decadent than my #1 pick of berries, grapes, and cherries.
Dark chocolate, with at least 70% cocoa 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.
Make sure you avoid the sugary “candy bars.” You already know those aren’t going to be anti-inflammatory! Here’s a homemade recipe for “healthy” chocolate instead.
There are just so many amazingly delicious and nutritious anti-inflammatory foods you can choose. They range from colorful berries, vegetables, and spices, to healthy fats, and even cocoa.
You have so many reasons to add anti-inflammatory foods to your diet to get your daily dose of “anti-inflammation.” And it’s easy with the recipes I shared above!
Recipe (Broccoli, Pepper, Turmeric): Anti-inflammatory Quinoa- Serves 2
- ¾ cup dry quinoa (pre-rinsed)
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 medium onion, diced1 bell pepper,
- 1 dash salt
- ½ tbsp turmeric
- 1 dash black pepper
- 2 cups broccoli, chopped
- In a saucepan place 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add the quinoa and simmer until the water is absorbed (about 10-15 minutes).
- Melt coconut oil in a skillet. Add diced onions, turmeric, pepper and salt, and lightly sauté for a few minutes.
- Add broccoli and lightly sauté for 5-6 minutes, until it becomes softened.
- Option: stir in 1 cup of cut up kale.
- Add the cooked quinoa and stir everything together.
Serve & enjoy!
Tip: Add some cayenne pepper or curry spice for an extra spicy kick.
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