By Chef Lauren Cox, Closer to Your Food

Whereas inflammation is our body’s important response to outside threats like infections and stress, chronic inflammation can be linked to many common health issues such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes and arthritis.1

To keep inflammation at bay, especially for those already suffering from disease, one of the best efforts you can make is with your diet. Here are 5 anti-inflammatory foods you should try incorporating into your daily routine:

Turmeric

This golden root has gained steam lately for its amazing health properties, most notably as a super anti-inflammatory[1] because of the curcumin compound. You may know that you can get plenty of turmeric in a bowl of curry, but here are some others to try:

  • In fresh pressed juices and smoothies
  • In Indian and Middle Eastern rice dishes
  • Tandoori dishes
  • Moroccan lamb dishes
  • Shawarma roasted and braised meats
  • Many types of pickles
  • Golden milk
  • Many lentil dishes
  • Common taco seasoning

Ginger

Ginger root has been used in traditional medicine for centuries as an anti-inflammatory, though many people associate it with nausea relief and as a digestive aid. The potent anti-inflammatory compound in ginger is called gingerol and in clinical studies is showing to be very effective in reducing pain and increasing mobility in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis sufferers who take it on a daily basis[2]. Ginger is delicious in many Asian dishes, but try it as a fresh tea boiled in water with a drizzle of local honey to mellow out its heat, or try a small piece in your fresh pressed juice for a little kick. As a tip, you can use the back of a metal teaspoon to easily scrape away and peel the skin off without wasting too much flesh.

Unexpected Fish

Many of us have heard that fish with high levels of Omega-3 are great for an anti-inflammatory diet and to eat a serving at least twice a week. Fish such as salmon, bass, tuna and halibut can be a little tricky to find because of pollution, over-fishing and farmed species that are fed GMO diets. And now we even have genetically modified salmon! Surprisingly, there are a few fish species out there that are either farmed by healthy and sustainable practices, or that are sustainably fished in the wild. Here are some of my recommendations:

  • Mussels – Most are farmed in non-polluted waters with clean sustainable methods. I recommend steaming them in good court bouillon and white wine with garlic, herbs and butter.
  • Trout – Trout is high in Omega-3s and is a great treat to enjoy after a relaxing fishing trip. Remember, the more pink the flesh, the more likely it is to have higher Omega-3 content. We think the best way to eat it is roasted whole with some lemon and salt over the campfire right by the river/lake/stream from which it came.
  • Oysters – Another sustainably farmed shellfish, packed with minerals on top of high levels of Omega-3s. They are, of course, delicious raw on the half shell with mignonette sauce or grilled. To grill them, put them on the half shell on the grill. When their juices start to bubble, top them with a little garlic, butter, lemon juice and some fresh herbs like chopped parsley until just tender.
  • Arctic Char – This fish can be a little tough to come across, but it is sustainable and has a sweet flavor – as if a salmon and trout had a baby. Use your favorite salmon recipe with this one, just be sure not to over-cook its delicate flesh.

Hot Peppers

Capsaicin, the compound in peppers that gives them their heat, is also a power anti-inflammatory. The spicier the pepper, the higher the level of capsaicin. If you are a bit sensitive to heat, start by trying a more mild pepper like a jalapeno in your guacamole or stir fry. You actually can build a tolerance and might find that you can handle the heat!

Berries

Berries, for the most part, get their color from anthocyanins, a compound which happens to be a very powerful antioxidant. The darker the berry, the higher the anthocyanin levels in most cases. As a bonus, anthocyanins are also helpful in burning stored fat[3], so you really can’t go wrong with berries. Just be sure you purchase organic because they are sponges for chemicals like pesticides and herbicides.

In addition to adding these foods into your diet, there are also some to avoid. Some of the sneakiest inflammation culprits are the refined sugars hiding in packaged foods, alcohol and delicious grains like rice, even though in some aspects it may be healthy. Also steer clear of high Omega-6 oils like soybean, corn, sunflower and safflower, especially the cheap GMO varieties used heavily in the food and beverage industry. For more information on foods to avoid, read my previous article, Is My Diet Keeping Me in Pain?


References: 

1. http://time.com/3702053/inflammation-health-effects/
2. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/turmeric
3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11710709
4. http://www.healwithfood.org/weight-loss/anthocyanins.php 


Closer to Your Food is a wellness blog focused on eating and cooking for health and sustainability with recipes and lifestyle tips formulated around a plant-based diet and home-grown local foods. Chef Lauren Cox holds a B.A. from the le Cordon Bleu in Culinary Management with over 8 years of fine dining experience in private dining, catering and Michelan star restaurants. For more information, please visit www.closertoyourfood.com and follow Closer to Your Food on Twitter and Facebook @Closer2YourFood. 


*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.