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There are several types of inflammation. One is inflammation that is typically associated with swelling and pain. This is acute inflammation and is usually of short duration. Another type of inflammation is low-grade and not associated with pain. This inflammation can contribute to several health issues including: cancer, diabetes, asthma and heart disease. Studies show food plays a role in inflammation.
Foods that Fight Inflammation
Although no single diet or food can relieve inflammation completely, there are some foods that may reduce it. These foods are also part of a healthy eating plan and are key to healthy aging.
- Omega-3 Fats - these fats are converted into substances that may decrease inflammation. Foods rich in omega-3s include: salmon, sardines, halibut, herring, mackerel and flax seed meal.
- Antioxidant-Rich - these foods quiet the immune system and reduce inflammation. Colorful fruits & vegetables, onions, garlic and olive oil are excellent sources of antioxidants.
- Healthy Carbs - are minimally processed and fiber rich. Fiber may lower C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation in the body. Vegetables, legumes, fresh whole fruit and whole grains are healthy carbs.
- Probiotics - may reduce inflammation in the gut. Foods rich in probiotics are: yogurt, kefir, acidophilus milk, sauerkraut and kimchi.
- Herbs & Spices - play a role in reducing inflammation and are antioxidant rich. Rosemary, sage, thyme, turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper.
- Adequate Vitamin D - inflammation is associated with low levels of vitamin D. Get your D-level checked and ask your physician if you need to take a supplement. There are few good food sources other than salmon, tuna, sardines and vitamin D-fortified products.
Putting it on your Plate
Build your meals and snacks around fish, vegetables, fresh fruit, low fat dairy and whole grains to reduce inflammation:
- Eat a variety of seafood at least twice a week.
- Add colorful vegetables to salads, and top with olive oil.
- Consider adding low sodium beans or lentils to soups & salads.
- Have plain Greek yogurt and add fresh berries for a snack or dessert.
- Use herbs & spices instead of salt to season your meals.
- Add cinnamon to oatmeal.
Minimize Foods that Fuel Inflammation
- Highly Processed & Fast Foods - including packaged foods that have a lot of ingredients and additives.
- Sugar & Refined Grains - desserts, sweetened beverages, and white bread.
- Partially Hydrogenated & Trans Fats - often found in snack foods.
Check the nutrition facts and ingredient information on food labels.
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