7 Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods

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7 Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods
7 Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods. Graphic © herbshealthhappiness.com. Background image © Photographee.eu – fotolia.com (under license)

Inflammation is a mechanism that shows that our body is fighting an infection. When an area is damaged by trauma or infected by a microorganism, it becomes inflamed and the body sends reinforcements like white blood cells and leukocytes to fight the infection. However, inflammation is damaging if left unresolved – and medications may have side effects – are these worth the pain they alleviate? Include the following foods that have natural anti-inflammatory qualities to provide support without the side effects some medications are notorious for:

1. Raw Mushrooms

A favorite addition to soup, stir fry, and pasta, mushrooms have shown very potent anti-inflammatory activity when kept in their raw forms. A study by Gunawardena in 2014 revealed that White Button, Honey Brown, Shiitake, Enoki, and Oyster mushrooms were all promising on the anti-inflammatory front, inhibiting nitric oxide production, however, these properties were lost during heating and cooking. [1]

2. Food Rich In Omega-3 fatty acids

You will often hear omega-3s as a healthy addition to your diet, primarily in improving cardiovascular health. But what exactly are omega-3 fatty acids? They are a naturally-occurring substance usually found in fish like tuna and salmon and have the ability to relieve chronic inflammation. They can be used to fight inflammation of blood vessels found in heart disease and inflammation of respiratory passages found in asthma and similar allergic conditions. [2][3]

Sources of omega-3s: fresh tuna, wild-caught salmon, halibut, herring, mackerel, oysters, sardines, trout, brussel sprouts, kale, mint, parsley, spinach, watercress

3. Leafy Greens

Leafy green vegetables like spinach, collard greens, and kale are rich in a variety of anti-oxidants and nutrients that help fight cellular damage. These properties make them an excellent addition to your diet in fighting inflammatory conditions like heart and metabolic disease and nutrition deficiencies. The nitrate content of leafy green vegetables even have direct effects on the body’s blood vessels, able to alleviate the symptoms of hypertension and cardiac problems. [4][5]

4. Berries

Berries are not just delicious and full of vitamins, they have specific properties that help reduce inflammation in the body. Because they are chock-full of antioxidants like polyphenols and anthocyanins, they can battle the most common effects of chronic disease in humans – widespread or generalized inflammation. [6]

5. Tea

Tea has been touted as the healthier alternative to coffee and energy drinks, able to boost alertness with added antioxidant properties. However, its benefits also include an ability to improve inflammation, particularly in mobility and metabolic diseases. Two recently published studies have shown tea to reduce inflammation found in subjects with diabetes and arthritis. [7][8]

6. Fermented Food

Fermented food has developed a bad reputation in the US but it is a well-loved inclusion in most Asian countries’ fares. In fact, it has been well documented in recent research that fermented food is able to fight inflammation in heart disease, diabetes, chronic skin disease, and even neurologic disease. If anything, fermentation boots the benefits of a particular food product, making it healthier for consumption. [9][10][11][12]

7. Garlic

Famous for its ability to battle chronic cardiovascular conditions, garlic’s cardioprotective powers lie in its high antioxidant content which fights vascular inflammation. Most heart and vascular conditions stem from chronic inflammation of the body’s blood vessels, which can become blocked or rupture. Raw or cooked, garlic is regarded as one of the best anti-inflammatory foods you can include in your diet. [13]


[1] Gunawardena, D., et. al. (2014). Anti-inflammatory effects of five commercially available mushroom species determined in lipopolysaccharide and interferon-γ activated murine macrophages. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24262531

[2] Skulas-Ray, A. (2015). Omega-3 fatty acids and inflammation: a perspective on the challenges of evaluating efficacy in clinical research. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25698680

[3] Miyata, J. & Arita, M. (2015). Role of omega-3 fatty acids and their metabolites in asthma and allergic diseases. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25572556

[4] Lidder, S. & Webb, A. (2013). Vascular effects of dietary nitrate (as found in green leafy vegetables and beetroot) via the nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22882425

[5] Tufts, H., et. al. (2015). Vascular effects of dietary nitrate (as found in green leafy vegetables and beetroot) via the nitrate-nitrite-nitric oxide pathway.Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Activities of Kenyan Leafy Green Vegetables, Wild Fruits, and Medicinal Plants with Potential Relevance for Kwashiorkor. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26236384

[6] Joseph, S., et. al. (2014). Berries: anti-inflammatory effects in humans. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24512603

[7] Heber, D., et. al. (2014). Green tea, black tea, and oolong tea polyphenols reduce visceral fat and inflammation in mice fed high-fat, high-sucrose obesogenic diets. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25031332

[8] Riegsecker, S., et. al. (2013). Potential benefits of green tea polyphenol EGCG in the prevention and treatment of vascular inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23871988

[9] Nestel, P., et. al. (2013). Effects of low-fat or full-fat fermented and non-fermented dairy foods on selected cardiovascular biomarkers in overweight adults. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23756569

[10] Selhub, E., Logan, A., Bested, A. (2014). Fermented foods, microbiota, and mental health: ancient practice meets nutritional psychiatry. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24422720

[11] Lee, T., et. al. (2014). Dietary fermented soybean suppresses UVB-induced skin inflammation in hairless mice via regulation of the MAPK signaling pathway. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25144532

[12] Garcia-Diaz, D., Johnson, M. & de Mejia, E. (2015). Anthocyanins from fermented berry beverages inhibit inflammation-related adiposity response in vitro. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25079118

[13] Ho, S. & Su, M. (2014). Evaluating the anti-neuroinflammatory capacity of raw and steamed garlic as well as five organosulfur compounds. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25365295

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By Mike Westerdal CPT

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