Inflammation is a hot topic in the world of health and nutrition. It’s the body’s natural response to an infection or injury. Without it our body would not be able to heal. However, inflammation that persists—known as chronic inflammation—plays a role in serious illnesses such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and many types of cancer. Thankfully healthy food choices among other lifestyle choices can reduce risk of developing chronic inflammation.
There may not be one super food to cure chronic inflammation, but a healthy and varied diet can boost the body’s immune system and reduce inflammatory stress.
Although diet is important in fighting inflammation, other lifestyle choices that reduce risk of chronic inflammation include: maintaining a healthy weight, getting plenty of sleep and engaging in regular physical activity.
This month I’m sharing foods and spices that help fight inflammation. This month, eat well to feel great!
Enjoy all the autumn harvest has to offer by incorporating seasonal produce and spices into meals, all while fighting inflammation!
Cranberries contain phytonutrients shown to have anti-inflammatory effects on the cardiovascular system and digestive tract. Sprinkle a handful of dried cranberries in your morning oatmeal or mix with roasted nuts for a quick healthy snack.
Sweet potatoes have high amounts of antioxidants—beta-carotene, vitamin E and vitamin C—that have anti-inflammatory benefits. Try roasting sweet potatoes in the oven and drizzling with honey or maple syrup for a warm fall dessert.
Apples are plentiful in fall and have been shown to reduce inflammation through their polyphenol content. They’re great on their own for a quick grab and go snack or are delicious baked with cinnamon sprinkled on top.
The magnesium found in dates has been linked to reduced blood pressure and has anti-inflammatory benefits. Dates are naturally sweet and are great used in baking as an alternative sweetener or an elegant appetizer stuffed with cheese or nuts.
Pumpkin is one of the best sources of alpha- and beta-carotene, which gives pumpkin its orange hue. The seeds are a good source of alpha-linolenic acid, known to fight inflammation. Toast pumpkin seeds in the oven and drizzle with olive oil, sprinkled with sea salt for a delicious fall snack.
Pecans are a traditional fall staple, rich in magnesium and are known to have anti-inflammatory benefits. Pecans are great in salads or as a topping on hot cereal. Toasting pecans enhances their flavor.
The greens of this root veggie are an excellent source of vitamin K and omega-3 fatty acids, both known as anti-inflammatory nutrients. Turnip greens are great sautéed or drizzled with a vinaigrette dressing.
Ginger contains potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols shown to help fight inflammation. Fresh ginger root can be used in teas, baked goods and most commonly in Asian and Indian dishes. Try adding freshly grated ginger to sautéed veggies or rice to spice up any dish.
Eugenol is the main active compound found in allspice, which has been shown to decrease inflammation within the body. Allspice is a warming spice and has the flavors of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and pepper. Sprinkle over roasted butternut squash drizzled with olive oil for an easy side dish.
Cloves also contain the compound eugenol. Cloves are a versatile spice and is commonly used in fall recipes, from drinks to meat dishes.
Cinnamon contains compounds with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may reduce the risk of cellular damage and chronic disease. Use in place of sugar in your morning coffee or tea for an alternative sweetener.