15 Anti-Inflammatory Foods You Should Be Eating

Inflammation is how your immune system reacts to irritation, injury, or infection. It's a normal response and a natural part of healing. But inflammation that lasts too long can harm your body and your health.

An anti-inflammatory diet is one way to counter some of the chronic inflammation. If you're ready to get back on the path to healthy eating, read on. This article outlines 15 nutritious foods that will fit perfectly into an anti-inflammatory diet.

1

Almonds

Almonds

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Almonds are a great source of monounsaturated (healthy) fats, vitamin E, and manganese. They’re also rich in magnesium and plant protein.

In research studies, eating almonds has been associated with a lower risk of heart disease. They may improve the balance of fatty acids in your blood.

Almonds can also give you a "full" feeling. They’re a little higher in calories than many other anti-inflammatory foods, but eating a handful of them may help you stick with a healthy weight loss plan.

2

Avocados

Avocados

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Avocados are rich in heart-healthy fats. Plus, they're a a good source of magnesium, fiber, and potassium.

Half an avocado adds nicely to your daily intake of vitamins C, A, E, and B-complex vitamins. Bonus: They're low in sodium.

Avocados also contain polyphenols that work as antioxidants. Antioxidants fight cell damage in your body. Add avocado slices to a sandwich or salad, or make a tasty guacamole.

3

Broccoli

Two broccoli florets and kitchen cleaver on dark wood
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Broccoli is a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables. It's high in phytochemicals called glucosinolates. Phytochemicals are plant-based antioxidants.

Broccoli is also an excellent source of vitamin C, potassium, calcium, and vitamin A, all while being low in calories.

It's easy to get more broccoli into your diet because it's delicious cooked or raw.

Studies show that eating a diet high in cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, is linked to a lower risk of some types of cancer.

4

Blueberries

Part of wickerbasket with blueberries (Vaccinium myrtillus) on wooden table
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Blueberries contain a lot of polyphenols. They trigger antioxidant activity and may help to prevent cancer and heart disease. These plant-based chemicals, including flavonoids, anthocyanins, phenolic acids, and tannins, prevent and repair cell damage.

Lab studies show the chemicals in blueberries may also slow the growth of cancer cells and lower inflammation. They're low in calories and add vitamin C, vitamin E, and fiber to your daily diet. And they're also delicious!

5

Carrots

Carrots
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Carrots contain beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant. Your body converts it to vitamin A, which is essential for your health.

Carrots also contain zeaxanthin and lutein. A diet rich in these antioxidants may help reduce your risk of cancer by preventing damage to the healthy cells of your body.

Since carrots are low in calories and a good source of fiber, they can also help you lose weight if necessary. That's important because obesity is a risk factor for heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. 

6

Dry Beans

Row of spoons with different dried pulses
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Dry beans, such as navy beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, and black beans, are an excellent source of plant protein, minerals, B-complex vitamins, and vitamin K.

They're also chock-full of fiber, and they contain polyphenols that work as antioxidants.

Since beans are high in protein, they're perfect for meatless meals you'll love even if you're not a vegetarian.

Research suggests dry beans may prevent some types of heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. They also reduce inflammation.

7

Kale

Crate of Freshly Harvested Kale Vegetable Varieties Hz
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Kale is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K. It's also rich in calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C . Kale is low in sodium and calories. An extra benefit: Kale has a bit of fiber. 

Kale contains glucosinolates that may help prevent cancer. It also has lutein and zeaxanthin, which may help lower your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration.

Also, lutein may help prevent atherosclerosis, a buildup of hard plaque in your blood vessels. Add kale to a salad or eat kale chips as a snack.

8

Olive Oil

Olive oil bottle and branch
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Olive oil is part of the Mediterranean diet, which has been linked to heart health and long life. It's rich in monounsaturated fats that are good for your blood vessels. It also has polyphenols that work to protect the cells in your body.

Olive oil helps reduce inflammation. It lowers cholesterol, and its polyphenols may help prevent some cancers,

It's an amazing oil to add to your kitchen. It's not always best for cooking but it's perfect for salad dressings and for finishing vegetable side dishes.

9

Oranges

Navel Oranges on rustic pine wood table
Ken Gillespie Photography / Getty Images

Oranges are a great source of vitamin C and potassium. They also contain fiber, calcium, and folate. The fiber and folate in oranges may help keep your heart healthy. Vitamin C is essential for immune system function. It also builds strong connective tissue and keeps blood vessels healthy.

Oranges and orange juice are excellent in an anti-inflammatory diet.

You don't need to save them for breakfast. Oranges make a great snack and can be added to lots of dishes and salads.

10

Salmon

Cedar Wrapped Salmon
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Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids—more than any other type of fish or seafood. Studies suggest people who eat more of these fatty acids may be less likely to suffer from dry eyes.

It's also good for the heart because the healthy fats lower inflammation and keep cholesterol in check.

The American Heart Association suggests eating fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, and mackerel, at least twice a week. Salmon is a great choice because it is a good source of an antioxidant called astaxanthin.

11

Spinach

Fresh organic spinach on wooden background
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Spinach is one of the best-known superfoods. It contains lutein, which is related to vitamin A and beta-carotene.

Spinach also gives you iron, vitamin K, and folate. It is very low in calories, so it may help with weight loss. 

Research shows that people who eat green, leafy vegetables like spinach may have less risk of macular degeneration. It's a good idea add plenty of fresh or cooked spinach to your diet.

12

Strawberries

Strawberries in metal bowl
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Strawberries are delicious, juicy, and sweet. Even better, they're good for your health. Strawberries are low in calories and high in fiber. They contain vitamins and minerals your body needs to function normally, including a lot of vitamin C.

They also have anti-inflammatory properties. 

Just about all berries are good for you because the pigments that give them their color also contain antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation.

13

Sweet Potatoes

Row sweet potatoand knife on jute, wood
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Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamins and minerals. Like most orange-colored vegetables, they're high in vitamin A and beta-carotene, a potent antioxidant.

Sweet potatoes are also an excellent source of vitamins C and K, potassium, and B complex vitamins.

They have plenty of fiber and aren't too high in calories. A baked sweet potato is perfect as a side dish. Or you can top it with baked beans and broccoli and eat it as a meal.

14

Swiss Chard

Swiss Chard
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Swiss chard is so beautiful and delicious. It's a wonderful and colorful leafy green vegetable to add to your anti-inflammatory shopping list.

Swiss chard is an excellent source of vitamins A and K and several minerals. It's very low in calories.

Research shows that Swiss chard may have flavonoids that work as antioxidants to lower inflammation.

15

Walnuts

Walnut pieces and nutcracker on cutting board, close-up
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Walnuts are a good source of healthy fats, protein, vitamin E, minerals, and phytochemicals called sterols. They also contain monounsaturated and omega-3 fatty acids that are good for your heart. 

Walnuts are energy-dense, so you may need to watch your portion size. Even though they are high in calories, a handful can help you feel full longer. In that way, they may actually help you lose weight.

Summary

What you eat can help reduce the inflammation in your body. Dark leafy greens, dried beans, and brightly colored fruits and vegetables contain plant-based nutrients that fight inflammation. So do healthy sources of fat such as avocados, nuts, olive oil, and salmon.

A Word From Verywell

These delicious and healthy foods may help improve your health. They can also make it easier to keep a healthy weight.

A diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods may help prevent certain health conditions as you age. Just be sure to keep these foods healthy by using the best cooking and meal prep methods.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What foods cause inflammation?

    Fried foods, refined carbohydrates like white flour and pasta, sugary drinks, red meat, processed meat, and fats like margarine and shortening are believed to increase inflammation.

  • Are there any drinks that can reduce inflammation quickly?

    Yes. Drinks that help include water, tea, coffee, milk, acidic juices, smoothies, and alcohol, specifically red wine, in moderation.

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16 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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