Inflammation is part of the body’s immune response; without it, we can’t heal. But when it’s out of control—as in rheumatoid arthritis—it can damage the body. Plus, it’s thought to play a role in obesity, heart disease, and cancer.
Foods high in sugar and saturated fat can spur inflammation. “They cause overactivity in the immune system, which can lead to joint pain, fatigue, and damage to the blood vessels,” says Scott Zashin, MD, clinical professor at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas.
Here are 6 examples from among many of the foods you can add to your diet to help reduce excessive inflammation:
Oily fish, like salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines (not fried), are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help reduce inflammation. If your not a fish fan try fish oil supplements.
More fiber, which has been shown to reduce levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation in the blood.
Dark leafy greens:
Studies have suggested that vitamin E may play a key role in protecting the body from pro inflammatory molecules called cytokines—and one of the best sources of this vitamin is dark green veggies.
Another source of inflammation-fighting healthy fats is nuts—particularly almonds, which are rich in fiber, calcium, and vitamin E.
“Colorful vegetables are part of a healthier diet in general,” says Dr. Costenbader.They have high quantities of antioxidant vitamins and lower levels of starch.
This vegetable’s brilliant red color is a tip-off to its equally brilliant antioxidant properties: Beets (and beetroot juice) have been shown to reduce inflammation, as well as protect against cancer and heart disease, thanks to their hearty helping of fiber, vitamin C and plant pigments called betalains.