Inflammation is at the root of so many serious diseases that plague our civilization, in addition to everyday aches and pains like arthritis.
In fact, in 2018, Harvard Medical School released a report stating that, “Chronic inflammation plays a central role in some of the most challenging diseases of our time, including rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and even Alzheimer’s.”
Even seemingly minor aches and pains (with no recognizable injury that brought them on) like osteoarthritis pain could be warning signs of more serious health concerns down the road.
Today, we’re going to talk about 20 of the best foods you can eat that will relieve inflammation, decrease pain, and help prevent serious diseases.
But before we do, let’s do a quick run down of the foods can cause MORE inflammation that you want to avoid:
- Sugar (especially when it combines with animal protein, a process known as glycation)
- Gluten and other processed carbohydrates
- Dairy protein with casein like cheese, milk, and yogurt
- Beef, unless grass-fed
- Artificial sweeteners like aspartame
- Bad fats, including anything with trans fats like baked goods, fried foods, and margarine, as well as pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats:
- Chicken and other poultry
- Soybean oil, corn oil, and canola oil
- Egg whites
- Safflower, grape seed, and sunflower oil
The average American eats 20 times more pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats than anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, whereas the ideal ratio is equal amounts of the 2 types. So you really want to minimize those bad fats.
20 of the Best Anti-Inflammatory Foods
1. Dark, Leafy Greens
Spinach, Swiss chard, watercress, kale, romaine lettuce, turnip and collard greens, and other dark, leafy greens are rich in folate (a.k.a. folic acid) and vitamin K, both of which reduce inflammation and risk of diseases.
How to eat more of it: In addition to salads, dark greens should be added to every smoothie and juice. You can also use them for lettuce wraps and blend them into chilled summer soups.
Whether it’s spicy jalapeño slices, a dash of cayenne, or sweet, diced red bell peppers, all kinds of peppers are loaded with antioxidants and vitamin C that reduce inflammation and may lead to healthy aging.
How to eat more of it: Raw soups like gazpacho taste great with the addition of red or yellow bell peppers. If you like heat, sprinkle cayenne or minced jalapeños on just about any dish!
You probably already know that this Eastern spice is one of the best inflammation fighters around. It’s commonly known that turmeric reduces inflammation from osteoarthritis as well as serious diseases like cancer and diabetes.
What you may not know is what you need to consume WITH turmeric. Add a pinch of black pepper to turmeric to increase the potency of turmeric by 2,000%. Research indicates adding black pepper can make all the difference.
How to eat more of it: Add turmeric powder to dishes beyond curries. It works well with lots of veggie dishes, lentils, and soups.
This green superfood is the highest in Sulphoraphane among cruciferous vegetables. That’s the compound that flushes out cancer-causing chemicals and targets tumor growing cells. Brussels sprouts and cauliflower – cousins of broccoli – are good inflammation fighters too.
How to eat more of it: Add broccoli to your quinoa bowl, stir fry, and soup recipes for an easy way to get more of these tasty “little trees.”
If you love garlicky foods, you’ll be happy to hear that it contains anti-inflammatory compounds that prevent cartilage damage from osteoarthritis and lower your risk of gastrointestinal cancers like colon, esophageal, and stomach cancer.
How to eat more of it: Add it to dips like hummus and guacamole, salad dressings, tomato sauce, and both hot and cold soups.
The blood-red color of this vegetable is part of its power. Beets contain a ton of antioxidants and plant pigments called betalains that protect against certain types of cancer and heart disease.
How to eat more of it: Shave raw beets over salads, include roasted, diced beets in quinoa veggie bowls, or even include beets and beet greens in smoothies.
Ginger is one of the best foods for people with arthritis, working as a natural form of COX-2 inhibitors, but ginger also helps prevent diseases associated with inflammation. In fact, it may soon be used experimentally on cancer patients for whom chemotherapy is no longer working. It can actually kill and dispose of cancer cells in certain types of cancer like ovarian..
How to eat more of it: You can take ginger supplements or add ginger to your stir fry dishes, soups, and smoothies. I also use it as a mild, no-acid sweetener in desserts.
The top food source of lycopene, tomatoes’ health benefits stem from their bright red color. Lycopene is an anti-inflammatory powerhouse that has been found to stop endometrial cancer cell growth, as well as help prevent lung, prostate, and stomach cancers.
Surprisingly, lycopene is more concentrated in canned tomatoes than fresh, so feel free to eat tomatoes year round using organic tomatoes stored in BPA-free cans. Not only that, but combining tomatoes with extra virgin olive oil maximizes the absorption of lycopene.
How to eat more tomatoes: In addition to salads, tomatoes are a great addition to raw and hot soups, as well as pasta dishes using alkaline noodles like spiralized zucchini.
9. Pistachios, Macadamia Nuts, and Almonds
In general, people who eat more nuts have lower levels of inflammation show up in blood work than those who don’t. These 3 nuts in particular are high in phytosterols, which have been shown to block estrogen receptors in breast cancer cells, possibly preventing cancer cell growth, and also decrease the likelihood of prostate cancer.
How to eat more nuts: Add nuts to your smoothies, salads, and homemade muesli or granola, and use nut spreads on Ezekiel bread or with apple slices.
10. Detox Tea, an Alkamind favorite!
One of the recipes included in our 7-Day Alkaline Cleanse and 2-Day Detox, Detox Tea contains flavonoids and antioxidants that reduce an inflammatory response, which damage cells. Studies have linked tea consumption to lower risk of ovarian and breast cancers.
How to drink more of it: Both hot and cold teas contain flavonoids, so enjoy Detox Tea year around.
11. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is so good at relieving inflammation that it can actually reduce pain as well! It also contains antioxidants, making coconut oil another important tool in cancer prevention.
How to eat more of it: Add coconut oil to just about every smoothie you make. Use coconut oil as your default cooking oil. Or just eat it with a spoon!
12. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
We take olive oil for granted as a healthy fat, but research links its use to a reduced risk of several types of cancer and heart disease, which may be due to oleocanthal, an antioxidant that may be as powerful as Advil at reducing inflammation without the side effects!
How to eat more of it: You use it on salads all the time, but anytime you’re enjoying raw veggies you can drizzle them in EVOO. However, it should be used raw. Cooking at high temperatures turns olive oil rancid and acidic.
13. Flax, Chia, and Hemp Seeds
Even a small serving of seeds packs a serious punch of inflammation-reducing omega-3 fatty acids. Flax, hemp, and chia seeds are also top sources of lignans, a chemical found in certain plants that helps prevent cancer.
How to eat more seeds: One of my favorite ways to eat more raw seeds is by adding them to smoothies and juices. You can also sprinkle them on salads, quinoa bowls, or alkaline desserts.
Sure, avocados contain healthy fats, nutrients, and fiber, but did you know they also are one of the best anti-inflammatory foods around? In fact, one study showed that when people ate avocado slices on their burgers, they had lower inflammation levels afterward than those who did not. I’d say ditch the burger and just enjoy the avocado!
How to eat more of it: What can you NOT enjoy avocado with? Smoothies, salads, raw soups, lettuce wraps, bowls, and even desserts – avocado is one food that can do it all!
Salmon is one of the top sources of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which are proven to reduce inflammation that can lead to diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Research shows that people who consume salmon or fish oil supplements like Daily Omega-3 have fewer markers for inflammation than those who do not.
How to eat more of it: Steam, sear, or roast salmon and serve along with greens and other veggies for an alkaline lunch or dinner that’s packed with nutrition.
16. Sardines and Anchovies
Like salmon, small, oily fish like anchovies and sardines are a great source of one of the best anti-inflammatories around – omega-3 fatty acids.
How to eat more of it: Add them to your favorite veggie noodle bowl, include them in lettuce wraps, or toss them on your next salad.
This one is somewhat controversial. Proponents of the Paleo or standard keto diets will tell you that beans and lentils are inflammatory. But the truth is that these tiny powerhouses of minerals, fiber, and other nutrients reduce inflammation.
They aid absorption of nutrients and help sweep toxins out of your body. Plus, they increase the level of the fatty acid butyrate, which inhibits the growth of cancer. Colon and breast cancers seem especially deterred by bean consumption.
How to eat more of it: Most beans are alkaline, so add them on your quinoa bowls, “burrito bowls,” salads, and alkaline pastas, and eat hummus with veggies regularly.
Blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries all contain anthocyanins, which are antioxidants with specific anti-inflammatory effects that may reduce your risk of certain diseases.
How to eat more berries: Breakfasts and desserts are a great way to eat more berries, of course, but you can also add them to salads.
19. Green Apple
You know “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” which might be because they contain compounds that reduce inflammatory markers in blood, as well as lower cholesterol levels. I prefer green Granny Smith apples, which are lower in sugar, so you get more of the anti-inflammatory effects.
How to eat more of it: Green apples are one of my favorite foods to add to juices and smoothies because they deliver tart sweetness without much sugar. Eating them with raw almond butter is a great snack too.
20. Black Seed Oil
Okay, okay, this one is a supplement and not a food. But hear me out. Black Seed Oil is nature’s most powerful anti-inflammatory at reducing chronic inflammation – even more powerful than turmeric with black pepper – in the digestive tract, where the immune system and much of our chronic inflammation lives.
It’s 3 times better at reducing inflammation than turmeric and 3 times more potent than any other black cumin seed oil (3% Thymoquinone). Plus, it has 1,000 times more active antioxidants than vitamin E, Echinacea, or elderberry.
This is like NOTHING else you can do to reduce inflammation! Try it today or Subscribe & Save 15%.
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