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Anti-inflammatory Foods

Updated on July 1, 2012

Because chronic low-grade inflammation is the root of many health problems, we want to eat foods that are anti-inflammatory and helps calm the body's inflammation response. In addition, we want to avoid pro-inflammatory foods.

The inflammation that we are talking about here is not the acute localized inflammation that occurs when we get a cut or stub our toes. We are referring to the chronic inflammation that is systemic to the whole body. This type and level of inflammation is sometime measured by a blood test called the C-Reactive Protein (CRP) test.

Kale | Source

Vegetables and Fruit

The basic principal for deciding what anti-inflammatory foods to eat is based on Dr. Weil's anti-inflammatory food pyramid.

At the base of the pyramid are the foods that you should eat the most, which are the vegetables and fruits. Both these category of foods contain whole array of flavonoids that help control inflammation. They also provide antioxidant properties. It is these flavonoids that give the vegetables and fruits their bright colors.

As the pyramid shows, you should eat a little bit more vegetables than fruits. This is because fruits in general has greater amounts of sugar. And sugar promotes inflammation.

The glycemic index tells us how fast the food raises our blood sugar levels. You want low-glycemic vegetables and fruits. Potato for example is a rather high glycemic food and is not a good choice (even though it technically is in the vegetable category). Instead eat leafy green vegetables such as kale and spinach.

The sugar in the fruit comes with the fiber which slows the rate of sugar release into the bloodstream. That is why the whole fruit with the fiber is fine and has a lower glycemic index than juice made from that fruit (which is not fine).

Blueberries | Source


Berries are the healthiest of the fruits. Blueberries, cherries, and raspberries have strong anti-inflammatory properties.

Blueberries for example contains the flavonoid anthocyanins which is able to cross the blood brain barrier and reduce low-level inflammation.

Onions and Apples for their Quercetin

Onions are an allium vegetable with a flavonoid called quercetin. Apple is a fruit high in quercetin.

Quercetin is both anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant. Onions contain a whole host of other flavonoids including the anti-inflammatory anthocyanins.

Many other fruits and vegetables contain quercetin. They include capers, red grapes, tomato, broccoli, and some leafy green vegetables (including kale and spinach).

Green Tea

Green and chamomile tea also contains quercetin. Green tea also contains epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG, which reduces the expression for interleukin-8 to causes inflammation.


Spices - Garlic and Ginger

There are some herbs that have anti-inflammatory properties. Garlic and ginger are both anti-inflammatory. They are easy to remember because they both start with "g" and they are among the most commonly used herbs. Other high anti-inflammatory spices include curry, turmeric, cinnamon, and parsley.[1][5]

Although hot peppers may give you a burning sensation on your tongue, they are anti-inflammatory to your system.[1]

The phytochemicals in spices inhibits an transcription factor that is linked with inflammation. This transcription factor is known as nuclear factor kappa-beta. Here is what a paper on PubMed has to say about that ...

"The activation of nuclear transcription factor kappaB has now been linked with a variety of inflammatory diseases, ... the pathway that activates this transcription factor can be interrupted by phytochemicals derived from spices such as turmeric (curcumin), red pepper (capsaicin), cloves (eugenol), ginger (gingerol), cumin, anise, and fennel (anethol), basil and rosemary (ursolic acid), garlic (diallyl sulfide, S-allylmercaptocysteine, ajoene), and pomegranate (ellagic acid)."

Wild Salmon
Wild Salmon | Source

Omega-3 Fats

Omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory while omega-6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory. Although both types of fats are essential. Our western diet is too high in omega-6, and we need to consume more omega-3 fats. An ideal ratio for omega-6 to omega-3 fats is 3:1. But some Western diets are as high as 30:1. Read more about the benefits of omega-3 fats.

You get omega-3 fats from fish and seafoods, especially wild salmon, sardines, and cod. You also get some omega-3 in pastured grass-fed meats and eggs. These animal produce better fat profiles with higher omega-3 fats because they are eating grass and roaming the pastures as they should be doing.

However, you want to avoid the feed-lot commercially raised animals because their fats are higher in inflammatory omega-6 due to the grains that they are being fed as well as the stress of the tight confinement.[4]

Avoid polyunsaturated vegetable oils such as corn oils as they are high in inflammatory omega-6. Read more about why vegetable oils are unhealthy and what is the best cooking oil to use instead.

In the video below, Jeanne Wallace talks about reducing inflammation as one of the nutritional strategies to reducing cancer potential. She talks about some anti-inflammatory foods in the video.


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    • BlissfulWriter profile image

      BlissfulWriter 5 years ago

      Hope that helps.

    • supermom_in_ny profile image

      supermom_in_ny 5 years ago from NY

      This is a very informative hub. I've been suffering from inflammation, sinus problems and migraines. I am going to try several of these natural remedies because the medicines the doctors have prescribed have not worked. Voted up and useful! ;)

    • BlissfulWriter profile image

      BlissfulWriter 5 years ago

      @Learn, that is a great summary -- "Berries, tea, and omega 3" -- it rhymes too.

    • BlissfulWriter profile image

      BlissfulWriter 5 years ago

      @suzettenaples I noticed that your profile shows your location as "Naples". That's interesting, because I just updated a Hub about Naples Italy and Naples Florida here ...

    • Learn Things Web profile image

      Learn Things Web 5 years ago from California

      Great hub! Berries, tea and omega 3's should be part of everyone's daily diet. They have many benefits.

    • BlissfulWriter profile image

      BlissfulWriter 5 years ago

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 5 years ago from Taos, NM

      Great article. I suffer from cronic inflammation and I eat a lot of these foods, but I also learned a lot from this article. Thank you!

    • CyberShelley profile image

      Shelley Watson 5 years ago

      BlissfulWriter, This is very interesting especially the fact that antioxidant foodstuffs are often anti-inflammatory as well. Great hub!

    • BlissfulWriter profile image

      BlissfulWriter 5 years ago

      Yes, eat as much as these food as possible. Many foods that are known for their antioxidant properties are often times anti-inflammatory as well.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I knew, of course, that these foods were good for us, but I did not know they were anti-inflammatory. Interesting and valuable hub.

    • Pollyannalana profile image

      Pollyannalana 5 years ago from US

      This indeed is a good diet and for a long time I put most of it in a blender together raw for a smoothie. I do still have green tea daily but I need to get back to the ginger, berries and greens. Thank you.