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Inflammation can be both good and bad.

On one hand, it helps your body defend itself from infection and injury.

But on the other hand, chronic inflammation can lead to weight gain and disease (1).

Stress, unhealthy inflammatory foods and low activity levels can make this risk even worse.

However, some foods can actually help fight inflammation.

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Here is a list of 13 anti-inflammatory foods that are supported by science.

1. Berries

Berries are small fruits that are packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals.

Although there are dozens of varieties, some of the most common berries include:

  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries

Berries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins. These compounds have anti-inflammatory effects that may reduce the risk of disease (2, 3, 4, 5, 6).

Your body produces natural killer cells, which help keep your immune system functioning properly.

One study found that men who consumed blueberries every day produced significantly more natural killer cells, compared to men who did not (5).

In another study, overweight men and women who ate strawberries had lower levels of certain inflammatory markers associated with heart disease (6).

Bottom Line: Berries contain antioxidants known as anthocyanins. These compounds may reduce inflammation, boost immunity and reduce the risk of heart disease.

2. Fatty Fish

Fatty fish are a great source of protein and the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA.

Although all types of fish contain some omega-3 fatty acids, these fatty fish are among the best sources:

  • Sardines
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Anchovies

EPA and DHA reduce inflammation that can lead to metabolic syndrome, heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease, among others (7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12)

This occurs after your body metabolizes these fatty acids into compounds called resolvins and protectins, which have anti-inflammatory effects (10).

In clinical studies, people consuming salmon or EPA and DHA supplements had decreases in the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP) (11, 12).

However, in another study, patients with atrial fibrillation who took EPA and DHA daily showed no difference in inflammatory markers when compared to those who received a placebo (13).

Bottom Line: Fatty fish contain high amounts of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which have anti-inflammatory effects.

3. Broccoli

Broccoli is extremely nutritious.

It’s a cruciferous vegetable, along with cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and kale.

Research has shown that eating a lot of cruciferous vegetables is associated with a decreased risk of heart disease and cancer (14, 15).

This may be related to the anti-inflammatory effects of the antioxidants they contain.

Broccoli is rich in sulforaphane, an antioxidant that fights inflammation by reducing your levels of cytokines and NF-kB, which drive inflammation (16, 17, 18).

Bottom Line: Broccoli is one of the best sources of sulforaphane, an antioxidant with powerful anti-inflammatory effects.

4. Avocados

Avocados are a true “superfood.”

They’re packed with potassium, magnesium, fiber and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

They also contain carotenoids and tocopherols, which are linked to reduced cancer risk (19, 20, 21).

In addition, one compound in avocados has been shown to reduce inflammation in young skin cells (22).

In one study, when people consumed a slice of avocado with a hamburger, they showed lower levels of inflammatory markers NF-kB and IL-6 than participants who ate the hamburger alone (23).

Bottom Line: Avocados contain various beneficial compounds that protect against inflammation and may reduce the risk of cancer.

5. Green Tea

You’ve probably already heard that green tea is one of the healthiest beverages you can drink.

It’s been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity and other conditions (24, 25, 26, 27).

Many of its benefits are due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, especially a substance called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG).

EGCG inhibits inflammation by reducing pro-inflammatory cytokine production and damage to the fatty acids in your cells (26, 27).

Bottom Line: Green tea’s high EGCG content reduces inflammation and protects cells from damage that can lead to disease.

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