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Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Foods

Chronic inflammation can be dangerous and contribute to the following diseases- type 2 diabetes, arthritis, cardiovascular disease and cognitive decline. To prevent inflammation, we often turn to “super foods” or just a couple of foods to keep us healthy. But we really need to examine our entire diet and adopt an overall approach.

In general, the following foods are consistent with decreasing inflammation:

  • Green leafy vegetables – spinach, kale, collard greens

  • Cruciferous vegetablesbroccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage

  • Onions and garlic

  • Tomatoes

  • Fruits – berries, cherries, citrus fruits, purple grapes, and pomegranates

  • Fish – salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines

  • Whole grains

  • Coffee, green and black tea

  • Coffee has polyphenols that protect against inflammation

  • Dark chocolate

  • Red wine

  • Extra virgin olive oil

  • Nuts – almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, and walnuts

  • Seedspumpkin, sunflower, flaxseed, sesame, chia, hemp

  • Herbs and spicesturmeric, ginger, rosemary, cocoa, cinnamon, basil, oregano, mint, clove

  • Fermented and cultured foodsmiso, sauerkraut, yogurt

Foods shown to increase inflammation:

  • Refined carbohydrates – white bread, cookies, pastries

  • Added sugar

  • Fried foods

  • Soda and sugar-sweetened beverages

  • Red meat (burgers, steaks) and processed meats (hot dogs, sausages)

  • Margarine, shortening, and lard

  • Hydrogenated fats and trans fats found in many baked and pre-packaged foods



The best overall eating plan to reduce chronic inflammation is the Mediterranean diet. You can start by making small but important changes to what you are currently eating.

First, add anti-inflammatory foods to your diet by increasing your fruit and vegetables. Try to make half of your meal brightly colored vegetables. Have berries, nuts and dark chocolate for snacks and dessert. Cook with olive oil, herbs and spices.

Next, cut down on foods that can increase inflammation.To reduce cravings, don’t eliminate them completely but decrease the amounts.For added sugar, The American Heart Association recommends 6 teaspoons or 25 grams a day for women and 9 teaspoons or 36 grams for men.Cut down on the amount of red meat eaten each week and keep the portion size to 3 ounces.

Written by Lisa Gibson, MS, RDN, FAND

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