Inflammation has received a lot of attention because of its potential impacts on disease risk. To be clear, it is a normal immune response. It is your body’s reaction to some kind of pathogen or injury. It puts everything into overdrive to contain a threat before it can hurt you. It causes redness and swelling as your body sends white blood cells to do battle.
That is how your body heals itself. It becomes a problem if it becomes chronic. There is where the health concern lies. More research is still needed, but evidence suggests that it is associated with heart disease and stroke, explains the American Heart Association. It may lead to DNA damage and cancer. Research also has found links to the development of autism.
Scientists don’t know exactly what causes inflammation to become chronic. Some research has shown that other conditions such as obesity may play a role. Therefore, one of the ways you can control inflammation begins with a healthy diet.
Reducing inflammation begins by targeting some of the processes that worsen it. Many foods are part of a healthy diet because of their nutritional value. Here are our choices for foods you can include to take charge of your health.
Fats are essential. They provide an excellent source of energy for fueling your activity and all body processes. They are also important as building blocks for creating cells and DNA. Olive oil is a healthy alternative to saturated fats like butter. Recent research has found that it may help reduce inflammation too.
Scientists from Deakin University in Australia identified a chemical called oleocanthal. It has anti-inflammatory properties similar to ibuprofen. Drugs like it are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications. They reduce the swelling and pain but also carry a risk of side effects. That makes foods like olive oil a better choice for controlling chronic inflammation.
Fruits provide many important nutrients including B-complex and vitamin C. These nutrients are water-soluble. That means you need to get them every day because your body doesn’t store them. Fruits are also excellent sources of fiber and other vital compounds. Strawberries, in particular, may hold some promise for reducing inflammation.
A study published in the journal, Nutrients, found that eating strawberries may lessen pain and inflammation. Patients with established osteoarthritis consumed a freeze-dried strawberry beverage for 26 weeks. Researchers found that the participants had reduced signs of inflammation. They even reported significant pain relief.
Both fruits and vegetables contain ingredients other than vitamins and minerals that have health benefits. One of these is a chemical called sulforaphane. It is found in foods such as cabbage and Brussel sprouts. Broccoli is a rich source of this compound. Research has shown that sulforaphane can slow the progression of osteoarthritis.
A study published in the journal, Food Chemistry, found that regular consumption of broccoli reduced inflammation in participants who ate a daily serving over the course of the experiment. Other research has shown that it can also slow the destruction of joint cartilage. That’s an excellent reason for eating all of your vegetables.
Leafy greens are equally as important for a healthy diet. Members of the Brassicaceae family include nutrient-dense foods such as kale. Kale and other plants of this group contain a chemical called sinigrin. This compound has anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation causes many serious health consequences. One of the most dangerous is atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries is a major risk factor for heart attacks and stroke Research has found that sinigrin can protect against atherosclerosis by reducing chemical reactions in the body that cause it. So, next time, eat that kale on your plate.
Nuts and Seeds
It’s hard to overestimate the health benefits of tree nuts like almonds and walnuts. A review of the current research found that daily consumption lowered both total and bad cholesterol. It also had similar effects on blood pressure. The researchers found that there wasn’t a difference between the types of nut.
Rather, it was the amount that was eaten. Enjoy whatever tree nut you like. The effects were most evident when participants ate two ounces a day.
Fish has so much going for it as a healthy food in addition to its anti-inflammatory properties. It’s low in saturated fat and rich in protein. Some of its best health benefits come from its omega-3 fatty acid content. The types with the highest amount include salmon, mackerel, and sardines. Smoked salmon spread anyone?
The tomato is a nutrition powerhouse. It is an excellent source of vitamins A and C. It is also rich in potassium. The latter is a nutrient of concern identified by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. But some of the greatest health benefits come from its lycopene content. A review of the research found that regular consumption reduced heart disease and stroke.
Whole grains tackle the issue of inflammation on several fronts. First, they can reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke by helping to control your cholesterol levels. Second, they’re an excellent source of fiber. In addition to managing your cholesterol, they can help you feel sated to control your appetite.
Whole wheat contains the most fiber. Brown rice is a great alternative. Refined and processed products like white bread or white rice don’t offer the same health benefits.
Onions won’t make you cry anymore. Not only do they taste great, but they may help control inflammation. They contain a chemical called quercetin. A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition looked at its effects on blood pressure. The researchers found that consumption of onion powder lowered systolic blood pressure by almost four points.
The one thing that all of these foods have in common is the fact that they are part of the Mediterranean diet. You can easily make entire meals by combining several of these choices. Eating healthy never tasted better. And by reducing inflammation, you can lower your risk of chronic diseases. It’s the quintessential win-win for everyone.