Foods to Reduce Inflammation
What is Inflammation?
Inflammation has a bad reputation – but did you know that it’s actually a part of our body’s natural defence mechanisms? Acute inflammation (short term) is a sign that our body is fighting infection. This response is a normal part of our immune system, and is actually a good thing – it’s part of the healing process! However, the problem occurs when we live with chronic inflammation (long term). Chronic inflammation occurs when the body constantly thinks it’s under attack, so keeps fighting despite no threat. Chronic inflammation is associated with increased risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
Inflammation and Diet
There’s an increasing amount of research that shows our diet can have a strong impact on managing and reducing chronic inflammation. In general, eating a balanced and varied diet with mostly whole, unprocessed foods is linked to lower inflammation. Reducing or eliminating ultra-processed foods that are high in refined sugars and trans fats is also known to help reduce inflammation.
Foods that may Lower Inflammation
Here are some dietary approaches that may help lower inflammation:
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA and DHA, are shown to reduce inflammation if eaten at sufficient amounts on a regular basis. Aim to have at least 500mg per day! You can achieve this by eating 4oz of fatty fish (like salmon, mackerel, tuna, or sardines) at least twice a week. During the rest of the week, fill up on fatty foods like avocados, nuts, seeds, and olive oil.
- Smart Protein Choices
There are some studies that show red meat is linked with higher inflammatory markers in the body. Choose “smarter” protein sources, such as beans, lentils, tofu, nuts, and seeds. The more plant-based protein, the better! If you do like to eat meat, choose healthier sources like chicken, fatty fish, Greek yogurt.
Antioxidants are found in a variety of fruits and vegetables. They help your body cells fight off damage. In particular, berries are a rich source of anthocyanins, which may reduce inflammation and reduce the risk of heart disease. Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are all excellent foods to eat regularly. Add them to your smoothies, salads, parfaits, or oatmeal.
Here is a delicious and quick recipe that is filled with ingredients that may lower your inflammation.
One Pan Salmon and Vegetables (serves 2)
- 5 lbs salmon fillet (2 pieces)
- ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 bunch asparagus
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp fresh dill, diced
- 2 tbsp garlic, minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 425 F.
- Make the marinade by whisking together the oil, lemon juice, dill, garlic, salt, pepper.
- With half of the marinade, marinate the salmon and let sit for 2 hours.
- Place the salmon onto a baking sheet.
- Place the red onion, asparagus and cherry tomatoes onto the baking sheet.
- Use the rest of the marinade on the vegetables.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the salmon is cooked through.
This goes great with a side of whole grains or starchy vegetables, such as ¾ cup quinoa, wild rice, brown rice, or ½ squash or sweet potato!