Inflammation. It’s not just for health headlines. It's very real.
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 and stresses your body over a long period of time.
Inflammation has been linked to obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer's, and diabetes, just to name a few diseases that are often directly related to our lifestyles.
But, instead of writing all about what it is, how it's measured, and where it comes from; why don't I just focus on some foods packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidants that are proven to help reduce it?
Here are my top anti-inflammatory food recommendations:
#1: Berries, Grapes, and Cherries
Why save the best for last? Perhaps the most amazingly delicious anti-inflammatory foods are a sweet favourite 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.
#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).
#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), therefore 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.
#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.
#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.
#6: Dark Chocolate (yea!)
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" (Snickers, Milky Way, Hershey, et al).You already know those aren’t going to be anti-inflammatory!
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."
Recipe: Anti-inflammatory Vegetable Quinoa
¾ cup dry quinoa (pre-rinsed)
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 bell pepper, chopped
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.
Add the cooked quinoa and stir everything together.
Tip: Add some cayenne pepper or curry spice for an extra spicy kick.