Many experts have learned that the best way to reduce inflammation is simply found in the refrigerator. It is all about the food you eat that helps fight off inflammation for good, not by only taking medicines.
There are a lot of accessible anti-inflammatory kitchen ingredients that you can conveniently add to your grocery basket. The anti-inflammatory kitchen ingredients are jam-packed with health benefits enough to prevent any occurrences of body inflammation. Following an anti-inflammatory diet may significantly lower your chances of having health problems.
How does an anti-inflammatory diet work?
Basically, your immune system activates automatically when the body recognizes anything foreign. This includes invading microbes, plant pollen or chemicals; inflammation starts when any of these happen.
Day in and day out, inflammation may persist even if you are not threatened by anything foreign in the body. When inflammation is not caused by a foreign invader, it becomes the body’s source of health problems. Inflammation itself is the reason major diseases occur, including arthritis, cancer, diabetes, depression, heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease .
While the pharmacy can surely provide effective medicines to combat inflammation, numerous studies have proven the same anti-inflammatory effects brought by eating certain foods and beverages .
Here are the seven best kitchen ingredients that you must add to your anti-inflammatory diet.
1. Leafy greens
The first on the list to be filled in your pantry after doing grocery should be your produce drawer. Generally, fruits and vegetables contain high levels of antioxidants, which can restore cellular health and provide anti-inflammatory flavonoids.
More particularly, leafy greens have so much to offer, including providing you with high anti-inflammatory benefits. Some leafy greens are spinach, kale and bok choy, which all have rich antioxidant contents and can be alkalizing.
Adding leafy greens to your grocery basket is definitely a good health investment as they have loads of nutrients, vitamins and minerals, such as fiber, folate and vitamins A, C, E and K.
Moreover, eating leafy greens can ultimately help with the following:
- nourishing the body at a cellular level
- aiding in preventing cognitive decline
- keeping the gut microbial community in optimal function
- reducing overall body inflammation
Many people can’t bear eating leafy green vegetables, especially those picky eaters. Hence, the solution is making an anti-inflammatory smoothie or juice.
Following the produce section, broccoli should be added in there as well because of its good anti-inflammatory properties. Broccoli is known to be rich in magnesium and potassium, while its antioxidant content is a particularly potent anti-inflammatory substance .
This vegetable is rich in sulforaphane which is an antioxidant that involves the reduction of inflammation in the body. Sulforaphane functions by lowering the levels of cytokines and nuclear factor kappa B–both molecules that drive inflammation in the body.
With its high vitamin, flavonoid and carotenoid contents, you can deem broccoli as an antioxidant powerhouse and, thus, a great anti-inflammatory food. All of the broccoli’s contents work together to reduce oxidative stress in the body and contribute to fighting chronic inflammation. Not to mention, broccoli is extremely nutritious.
Furthermore, research suggests that eating a lot of cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, is linked to a lowered risk of heart disease and cancer . The results may be associated with the anti-inflammatory effects of the antioxidants the cruciferous vegetables contain.
Oranges are known to be one of the best anti-inflammatory fruits. This fruit is an excellent source of vitamin C and potassium which help strengthen immune system function and connective tissue and maintain healthy blood vessels. Oranges also contain fiber, calcium and folate that keep the heart healthy.
Some heart experts suggest that oranges and other antioxidant-rich foods are much more powerful compared with medication in fighting long-term inflammation . In fact, an orange contains more than 170 phytochemicals and over 60 flavonoids, which means that oranges are essentially jam-packed with anti-inflammatory properties.
Adding oranges to your weekly diet is an excellent choice for an anti-inflammatory diet. You can eat oranges at any time of the day–perfect for breakfast or an afternoon snack and can be added to certain dishes and salads.
Aside from oranges, berries are delicious and healthy anti-inflammatory fruits as well. Although small in size, berries are huge in terms of their nutritional content as they are rich in fiber, vitamins and minerals. A few of the most common kinds of berries are:
Generally, berries have antioxidants called anthocyanins or water-soluble vacuolar pigments which are a set of compounds that usually appear red, purple or blue. Anthocyanins have anti-inflammatory effects that can lower your risk of developing any disease .
In a research study that involved 25 adults who consumed blueberry powder daily, the researchers found that the subjects produced significantly more natural killer cells (NK cells) compared with those who did not consume the powder . The body can naturally produce NK cells, helping to keep the immune system functioning properly.
In a different study on strawberries, the scientists involved adults with excess weight and asked them to eat strawberries. The results reported that the participants who ate strawberries had lower levels of some inflammatory markers linked to heart disease compared with those who didn’t eat strawberries .
The deal with quercetin
Interestingly, berries contain quercetin as well, which is a strong anti-inflammatory substance. Quercetin refers to a flavonoid, a beneficial substance or phytonutrient that can be found in fresh foods, especially in citrus, olive oil and dark-colored berries. It is known to fight inflammation and even cancer .
The combination of quercetin and its fellow phytonutrient anthocyanins is what makes the berries, particularly blueberries, so special as an anti-inflammatory food. Berries provide numerous health benefits because of their phytonutrients.
In fact, research suggests that eating more blueberries can potentially slow cognitive decline and enhance memory and motor functions. The scientists explained that the antioxidants found in blueberries could protect the body against oxidative stress and reduce inflammation .
5. Green tea
Let’s now move to the beverage section, and green tea is the best drink to add to your anti-inflammatory grocery list. Numerous research studies have proven that drinking green tea is linked to a reduced risk of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, obesity and other fatal health conditions.
You would wonder why casually sipping green tea can provide much power over health, and it all boils down to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, especially the substance called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). EGCG stops inflammation by lowering pro-inflammatory cytokine production and damage to the fatty acids in the cells.
This warm, earthy flavor is often used in curries and other Indian dishes for a reason! Turmeric is your go-to anti-inflammatory spice with its curcumin content, which is an active anti-inflammatory substance. This spice provides many health benefits and has proven its valuable source in an anti-inflammatory diet, whether for both human and animal studies .
A study evaluated several anti-inflammatory compounds and found that aspirin, like Bayer, and ibuprofen, such as Advil and Motrin, are the least potent. Meanwhile, curcumin is one of the most potent anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative agents in the world, which happens to be found in turmeric .
With its high anti-inflammatory properties, turmeric is found to be highly effective at helping patients manage rheumatoid arthritis (RA). A research study conducted in Japan looked at the relationship between curcumin and interleukin (IL)-6, which is the inflammatory cytokine found to contribute to the RA process. The scientists concluded that curcumin “significantly reduced” the inflammatory markers of interleukin .
In another study, the researchers involved individuals with metabolic syndrome and asked them to consume one gram of curcumin every day along with piperine from black pepper. In the end, it was found that the participants experienced a huge decrease in their inflammatory marker CRP .
However, it may be a big challenge to acquire enough curcumin from only eating turmeric in order to see noticeable results. Taking supplements that have isolated curcumin may be much more effective and advisable for some people.
Generally, curcumin supplements are paired with piperine which can boost curcumin absorption by 2,000 percent more. But, of course, more research is still needed to fully understand the relationship between turmeric dosage and its effects on inflammatory markers.
Walnuts are the perfect anti-inflammatory snacks! Research suggests that individuals who replace saturated fats from foods such as butter, full-fat dairy and animal fat with polyunsaturated fats in foods, including walnuts, oily fish and olive oil, may potentially have a decreased risk of heart disease , considering that chronic inflammation can also contribute to the onset of cardiovascular disease.
Particularly, the study found that substituting 5 percent of the calories gained from saturated fat with the same amount of energy from polyunsaturated fats was linked to a 25 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease–which is another proof that walnuts are not just ordinary snacks.
Overall, adding anti-inflammatory kitchen ingredients to your everyday grocery list can help in improving your health, leading to a longer and healthier life. It keeps you away from developing life-threatening health issues. Some of the mentioned anti-inflammatory foods above are quite accessible and easy to prepare to kickstart your life-changing diet.