Food & Inflammation
What do you think of when you hear the word inflammation? I’d guess it probably isn’t very good. Well, inflammation is actually a completely normal process in the body and works to protect us from both injury and infection. Chronic inflammation (inflammation that persists over time) though can be problematic and can lead to other health issues such as diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease to name a few. What you eat matters, and research has found that certain foods can actually be anti-inflammatory, and eating them consistently can help decrease chronic inflammation.
Foods to Eat to Fight Inflammation
1. Fruits & Vegetables
Various fruits and vegetables have been found to offer anti-inflammatory benefits due to the compounds they contain. Berries, for example, are rich in polyphenols, which are compounds known to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation (1). Fruits and veggies such as peppers, citrus, and tomatoes contain vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that fights free radical damage that can cause Inflammation. Fill half your plate regularly with a variety of fruits and veggies at meals like mushrooms, peppers, broccoli, leafy greens, grapes, tomatoes, and more (2).
2. Fatty Fish
As discussed in our recent resource on the link between food and mood, fatty fish including salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, and anchovies are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids contain EPA and DHA that have been found to reduce the production of inflammatory compounds, and actually increase anti-inflammatory compounds in the body (3), (4). These Classic Salmon Burgers are perfect for summer and are sure to be a crowd-pleaser.
3. Dark Chocolate & Cocoa
You read that right…chocolate! Dark chocolate is not only delicious but offers a good source of inflammation-reducing antioxidant polyphenols (5). Our Fraîche Table Dark Chocolate Cherry Granola is to die for; try it on top of plain Greek yogurt for a satisfying breakfast or snack. Cocoa powder is also rich in antioxidants and can be enjoyed in this Chocolate Granola.
4. Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds amongst their many benefits, have been found to reduce inflammatory markers in the body. They also give a great crunch to any dish you add them to. Whip up a batch of this Salad Topper filled with sunflower and pumpkin seeds, along with sliced almonds. Put it on your favourite salads or enjoy a handful as is for a quick snack.
5. Fresh Herbs & Spices
We tend to think of herbs and spices as a source of extra flavour when added to proteins and meals. We often forget that they also offer health benefits! Herbs and spices including ginger, garlic, turmeric, cardamom, black pepper, rosemary, and cinnamon may improve Inflammation while making your meals delicious (6). You’ll love the addition of fresh rosemary in this recipe for Citrus Rosemary Salmon. If smoothies are your thing, the addition of fresh ginger, turmeric, and cinnamon in these Golden Glow Smoothies.
6. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
It’s safe to say we love olive oil. When it comes to fighting inflammation, olive oil contains a protective compound called oleocanthal (7). We call for olive oil whenever possible in our Fraîche Table recipes as a source of fat, and even have some baking recipes that use olive oil like these Blueberry Orange Hemp Heart Muffins!
Remember, what you eat consistently is what matters and we recommend an 80/20 mindset. Stay tuned for part 2 of this article explaining the flip side of the coin: foods (and other things like stress) to limit! For more nourishing recipes using the anti-inflammatory ingredients discussed above, search by ingredient in our recipe library on Fraîche Table. Claim your 10-day free trial for Dietitian-curated meal plans that take the stress out of eating well at home.