7 Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods You Can Eat

Inflammation is your immune system's reaction to irritation, injury, or infection. It's a normal response (and actually a good thing), and it's a natural part of healing. But it's possible that chronic inflammation could have a negative impact on your body and your health.

Following an anti-inflammatory diet is one way to counter some of the chronic inflammation that comes from leading a not-so-healthy lifestyle. If you're ready to get back on the path to healthy eating, try these 7 foods that are all nutritious and fit perfectly into an anti-inflammatory diet.

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 are:

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries

Berries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins. These compounds have anti-inflammatory effects that may reduce your risk of disease.

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

In one study, men who consumed blueberries every day produced significantly more NK cells than men who did not.

In another study, overweight men and women who ate strawberries had lower levels of certain inflammatory markers associated with 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:

  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Anchovies

EPA and DHA reduce inflammation that can lead to metabolic syndrome, heart disease, diabetes and kidney disease.

Your body metabolizes these fatty acids into compounds called resolvins and protectins, which have anti-inflammatory effects.

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

However, in another study, people with an irregular heartbeat who took EPA and DHA daily experienced no difference in inflammatory markers compared to those who received a placebo.

3. Avocados

Avocados may be one of the few supposed superfoods worthy of the title.

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.

In addition, one compound in avocados may reduce inflammation in young skin cells.

In one study, when people consumed a slice of avocado with a hamburger, they had lower levels of the inflammatory markers NF-kB and IL-6 than participants who ate the hamburger alone. Avocados offer various beneficial compounds that protect against inflammation and may reduce your cancer risk.

4. Green Tea

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

It reduces your risk of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, obesity and other conditions.

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.

5. Mushrooms

While thousands of varieties of mushrooms exist worldwide, only a few are edible and grown commercially.

These include truffles, portobello mushrooms and shiitake.

Mushrooms are very low in calories and rich in selenium, copper and all of the B vitamins.

They also contain phenols and other antioxidants that provide anti-inflammatory protection.

A special type of mushroom called lion's mane may potentially reduce the low-grade inflammation seen in obesity.

However, one study found that cooking mushrooms lowered their anti-inflammatory compounds significantly — so it may be best to eat them raw or lightly cooked.

6. Grapes

Grapes contain anthocyanins, which reduce inflammation.

In addition, they may decrease the risk of several diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer's disease and eye disorders.

Grapes are also one of the best sources of resveratrol, another compound that has many health benefits.

In one study, people with heart disease who consumed grape extract daily experienced a decrease in inflammatory gene markers, including NF-kB.

What’s more, their levels of adiponectin increased. Low levels are associated with weight gain and an increased risk of cancer.

7. Dark Chocolate and Cocoa

Dark chocolate is delicious, rich and satisfying.

It's also packed with antioxidants that reduce inflammation. These may reduce your risk of disease and lead to healthier aging.

Flavanols are responsible for chocolate's anti-inflammatory effects and keep the endothelial cells that line your arteries healthy.

In one study, smokers experienced significant improvement in endothelial function two hours after eating high-flavonol chocolate.

However, make sure to choose dark chocolate that contains at least 70% cocoa — more is even better — in order to reap the anti-inflammatory benefits.

sources: healthline.com, verywellhealth.com