Anti-inflammatory nutrition: the best foods and no-nos
Foods rich in antioxidants
Studies show clearly that eating fruits, lots of vegetables, nuts and seeds in combination with fish and healthy oils lowers the risk of inflammation-related diseases. To boost your health, you can specifically choose foods that are rich in antioxidants.
The following foods contain high levels of antioxidants, which is why they should always be part of your diet:
- Beans such as red and black beans
- Berries such as blueberries, raspberries and blackberries
- Dark chocolate containing at least 70% cacao
- Dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach and wild cabbage
- Nuts such as walnuts, almonds, pecans and hazelnuts
- Sweet potatoes
- Whole grains
Foods containing omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids can have an extremely positive effect on your well-being. They are part of the so-called good fats that can protect you from relevant diseases such as cancer, heart diseases and arthritis. It is recommended to include them in your nutrition on a regular basis. Doing so is not difficult, given that they are extremely tasty.
Due to their extremely high content of omega-3 fatty acids, these foods are particularly beneficial:
- Fatty fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines and anchovies
Plus, in order for your food to taste great, it needs the right seasoning. Try using selected herbs and spices that are said to have an anti-inflammatory effect. These include garlic, ginger, cinnamon and turmeric.
Avoid foods that promote inflammation
Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants help your body reduce or even prevent inflammation. However, there are also foods that have the exact opposite effect. They increase inflammation or even provoke it. These include, in particular, products that are rich in omega-6 fatty acids. While these fatty acids are helpful for bone health, brain function and metabolism, their overconsumption can have the opposite effect.
You should therefore be careful with the following foods, as they are rich in omega-6 fatty acids:
- Dairy products such as milk, cheese, butter and ice cream
- Vegetable oils such as corn oil, soybean oil, peanut oil and cottonseed oil
With a sufficient consumption of the earlier mentioned foods with a high omega-3 fatty acid content, you can smartly balance your intake of omega-6 fatty acids. For instance, when watching TV, it’s better to have a bowl of walnuts than a bag of peanuts!
Beware of too much sugar and highly processed foods
Foods with a high glycaemic index can cause and increase inflammation. Such foods include those that are rich in sugar or refined grains. They drive up your blood sugar levels strongly and quickly. An example of a snack with a high glycaemic index would be a piece of white bread with a glass of Coke.
It is better to replace sugary drinks with water or fruit juice spritzers. Also, frozen pizza and other processed foods are not very suitable for daily consumption.
It is better to consciously choose foods with a low glycaemic index. These include:
- Low-sugar muesli with fresh fruit
- Wholegrain pasta and wholegrain bread
- Leafy vegetables
7 tips for an anti-inflammatory diet
You don’t have to stick to a fixed diet plan to follow anti-inflammatory nutrition. In order to continue enjoying your food, it is important to pay attention to your own preferences. Fortunately, there is a wide range of anti-inflammatory foods to choose from, so you can easily incorporate them into your diet. You don’t have to cut the pro-inflammatory foods out of your diet completely, but they should make up a significantly smaller part of it.
Here are 7 helpful tips to make your anti-inflammatory diet a success:
- Eat between five and nine servings of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables every day.
- Reduce foods that are rich in omega-6 fatty acids.
- Increase your intake of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Eat less red meat and more lean poultry and fish. For vegetarians, beans and lentils are great sources of protein.
- Use healthier fats such as olive oil as an alternative to margarine and vegetable oils.
- Minimize products such as white bread, salt crackers and pastries in your diet. Replace them with whole-grain products such as oats, quinoa, brown rice and whole-grain pasta.
- Reduce the salt in your food and use garlic, ginger and turmeric for seasoning.
What exactly can anti-inflammatory nutrition look like?
Need some inspiration on what an anti-inflammatory meal can look like? Check out the following meals to get an idea.
- Breakfast: Have a breakfast smoothie with healthy fruits and a chia bowl or a plate of oatmeal.
- Lunch: Have a green salad with quinoa and vegetables. Vegetable and lentil-based soups are great, too. Fish lovers might grill a piece of salmon.
- Snack: Enjoy a fruit salad with seasonal fruits such as blueberries and apples. A chia seed pudding spiced with cinnamon is another great idea.
- Dinner: Combine a green salad with a skinless roasted chicken. Roasted vegetables with brown rice also make a light, healthy evening meal. Another alternative is a bean salad with grilled mackerel.
- Snacking while watching TV: How about a bowl of walnuts or a guacamole dip with wholemeal crackers?
Get started now with anti-inflammatory nutrition
Anti-inflammatory nutrition can protect you long-term against cancer, arthritis, heart diseases and other relevant illnesses. The reason is conscious consumption of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce and prevent inflammation. It’s quite easy to incorporate these anti-inflammatory foods into your diet, as the choices are appealing and plentiful.
Your Humanoo Team