The Top Anti-inflammatory Foods List


Inflammation is your body’s natural response to injury, irritation, or infection. It’s an entirely normal part of healing and is a natural bodily response. However — it’s also possible that low levels of unchecked, chronic inflammation could be silently wreaking havoc on your health.

In the following blog post, we have put together a list of the top anti-inflammatory foods for your benefit.

Do you know what you should be eating to offset inflammation? How exactly is inflammation affected by what you eat? Don’t worry if you can’t answer these questions just yet— we’ve taken on the task for you and outlined the top anti-inflammatory foods out below!

Did you know?
Chronic inflammation has been flagged as the key risk factor in weight gain, arthritis, strokes, irritable bowel disease (IBD), diabetes, heart disease, depression, cancer, and other chronic illnesses.

The connection between chronic disease, inflammation, & food

There’s a good chance chronic inflammation is the root cause behind why you feel ill or less than 100% lately. Luckily, incorporating high anti-inflammatory foods into your diet is a practical (& tasty!) way to offset harmful inflammation.

Did you know?
You can test for chronic inflammation if you suspect you have it⁠ — ask your practitioner to run blood tests for high-sensitivity C-reactive protein as well as fibrinogen.

5 glasses with different fruits in them with raw fruits in front of the glasses

When it comes to picking out the top inflammation-fighting foods, try and taste the rainbow— most anti-inflammatory foods are naturally vibrant and colorful.

The top anti-inflammatory foods

The following list of foods are the best of the best at fighting off low-grade inflammation:

Avocados

Ah, avocados. How could they not make the list? Avocados come with a laundry list of health benefits, but it’s the sugars found in avocados that makes them particularly good at reducing inflammation. (1)

And science has even proven avocados really can make everything better — including how you feel after eating a hamburger. In one study where participants ate hamburgers with or without a slice of Hass avocado on top, those who ate the burger with the added avocado topping had lower levels of inflammatory markers following the meal. (2)

Berries — açai, blueberries, strawberries, kiwi berries, raspberries, and blackberries

I’m sure this isn’t the first time you’ve heard that berries are overall very, very good for you. Their high antioxidant levels ⁠— specifically antioxidants called anthocyanins ⁠—are what make berries particularly talented at combating inflammation. In one study where overweight men and women ate strawberries for six weeks every day, the data suggested that eating strawberries can offset unhealthy foods that trigger inflammation. In other words ⁠— eating strawberries and other berries regularly may lessen your inflammatory response when you have a cheat meal. (3)

Although there are countless varieties of berries, some of the most studied for their high anti-inflammatory properties are:

  • Açai berry (4)(5)
  • Blueberries (6)
  • Blackberries (7)
  • Blackcurrant (8)
  • Raspberries (9)(10)
  • Strawberries (3)
  • Kiwi berries (11)
kiwi berries in a black bowl

Kiwi berries are nutritional ninjas poised to be the next Açai popularity-wise. New research has shown kiwi berries have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powers. (11)

Tomatoes

Tomatoes and tomato juice are both chalked-full of several antioxidants with powerful anti-inflammatory properties, such as vitamin C, lycopene, and potassium. Lycopene is particularly effective at reducing inflammation and the risk of certain cancers and heart disease. Tomatoes also happen to be the richest source of lycopene in a traditional western diet. In one study with 106 obese and overweight females, drinking 330ml of tomato juice daily for 20 days was shown to reduce inflammation. (13)(14)(15)(16)

Did you know?
Cooking tomatoes in olive oil can increase your ability to absorb lycopene when you eat them. (17)

Cherries

Does eating 45 cherries a day keep inflammation away? Studies have shown it can! Packed full of antioxidants like catechins and anthocyanins, cherries are very effective at decreasing oxidative stress and fighting inflammation. In one study, where participants ate 280 grams of cherries daily for a month, biomarkers for inflammation levels significantly reduced. The best part? The levels stayed low for 28 days after they have stopped consuming cherries daily! (18)(19)(20)

cherries in a bowl

Both sweet and tart cherries have been shown to contain antioxidants that reduce inflammation and combat chronic illness.

Did you know?
There have been a total of sixteen published human studies that have looked into the effects of consuming cherries and markers of inflammation. (21)(22)

Turmeric

Turmeric, a spice long recognized for its medicinal properties, can attribute most of its anti-inflammatory effects to the polyphenol curcumin. You’re probably wondering, “Why can’t I just take curcumin by itself?’ Well, that’s because ingesting curcumin by itself has poor bioavailability, poor absorption, rapid metabolism, and quick elimination from the body. (23)(24)

Did you know?
Turmeric should be ingested with black pepper. Black pepper —when combined with turmeric — has been shown to increase curcumin bioavailability by a whopping 2000%. (25)

Mushrooms — oysters, enokis, shiitakes, honey browns, and white buttons

Mushrooms can be a great way to lower inflammation naturally — but only if you don’t overcook them! Studies have shown that overcooking mushrooms can reduce the power of its anti-inflammatory compounds drastically. To reap the anti-inflammatory effects of shrooms, aim to eat them lightly cooked or raw. (26)

Did you know?
Mushrooms are rich in selenium, B vitamins, copper, phenols, and other antioxidants that provide inflammatory protection against conditions like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). (27)(28)(29)

woman cutting up a mushroom

Though there are thousands of varieties of mushrooms you could forage for worldwide, only a few are edible, grown commercially, and have been studied.

Salmon + other fatty fishes

Salmon, which is one of the more delicious fatty fish, is an excellent source for protein as well as long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. The omega-3 fatty acids are what make salmon particularly good at fighting inflammation. EPA & DHA have been shown to have strong anti-inflammatory properties once your body metabolizes the acids into compounds called protectins and resolvins. (30)

To reap the anti-inflammatory effects of salmon, aim to have it once a week for at least 8-weeks in a row. (31)

Other fatty fish include:

  • Anchovies
  • Sardines
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Lentils + kale

If you are looking for a meal that is a one-stop-shop for all things micronutrients, then whip up something with lentils and kale! Studies have shown that the combination of kale and lentils is particularly effective and complementary when it comes to combating inflammation — being they are both jam-packed with phytonutrients, minerals, and other vitamins. (32)(33)

Dark chocolate and cocoa

Dark chocolate and all things cocoa are not only delicious, but they are also nutritious! The cocoa found in chocolate is full of antioxidants, which can help reduce inflammation in the body⁠ —and quickly. In one study, smokers who drank a cocoa drink experienced a significant improvement in endothelial function a mere two hours after ingestion. To get the most anti-inflammatory health benefits from your chocolate, try and opt for a bar of dark chocolate that contains 70% cocoa or higher. (34)(35)

Did you know?
The flavonols found in dark chocolate and cocoa are what’s responsible for chocolate’s strong anti-inflammatory properties. (34)(36)

Dark chocolate not only boosts your mood and lowers stress levels—but it’s also one of the best snacks for fighting inflammation.

Broccoli

Broccoli is an absolute nutritional dynamo that deserves the title of superfood. Studies have shown that eating this cruciferous vegetable regularly is associated with a decreased risk of certain cancers and heart disease. It is also one of the best possible natural sources for sulforaphane — a powerful antioxidant with notable anti-inflammatory properties. (37)(38)(39)(40)

Did you know?
Broccoli may be particularly good at alleviating and controlling inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease. (41)

Grapes

All grapes — the red, purple, and green ones —are packed with, you guessed it, antioxidants! Specifically, grapes are full of anthocyanins and resveratrol, both of which have been shown to reduce inflammation. In one study where people with heart disease consumed a liquid grape extract daily for a year, participants had a decrease in inflammatory gene markers. (42)(43)

Did you know?
You can freeze grapes. Frozen grapes can make for a tasty snack, or they can jazz up a glass of water or be thrown into smoothies.

Chili peppers + bell peppers

Chili peppers are packed with antioxidants and vitamin C, giving them significant anti-inflammatory effects. Hot chili peppers are a great source of sinapic acid and ferulic acid, which can reduce inflammation. (44)(45)

Though if you can’t handle the heat of chili peppers, know you can also opt for bell peppers. Bell peppers have been shown to contain capsaicin, which has been shown to produce an anti-inflammatory effect in individuals with inflammatory conditions. (46)(47)

Did you know?
Scientists are heavily studying the anti-inflammatory effects and therapeutic application of water extract from bell peppers. (48)

red, green, yellow peppers in a bowl all together

Peppers ⁠— spicy and mild varieties alike – are some of the best natural anti-inflammatory foods.

Chia seeds

Chia seeds are a superb source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is a type of omega-3 fatty acid found in plant foods. And as we mentioned earlier, when talking about fatty fish, ALA has been shown to act as a very effective anti-inflammatory agent.

The ALA present in chia seeds makes them a great choice to sprinkle on yogurt or cereal or mix into your morning smoothie. (49)(50)(51)(52)

The anti-inflammatory diet — beat chronic illness, one bite at a time

Dietary changes are one of the best ways you can prevent or reduce inflammation.

Specifically, the anti-inflammatory diet is a whole eating plan designed around the top anti-inflammatory rich foods that help prevent or reduce low-grade chronic inflammation. Generally, the anti-inflammatory diet focuses on anti-inflammatory rich nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids and phytonutrient-rich plant-based foods. Following the anti-inflammatory diet is one way to counteract some of the chronic inflammation that stems from leading a less-than-healthy lifestyle.

With the anti-inflammation diet, remember to mix it up

When adhering to the anti-inflammatory diet, variety is key. Focus on eating a variety of different anti-inflammatory foods rather than merely incorporating one into every meal you eat. You are not going to get any incredible anti-inflammatory benefits from just overdoing it with one of the foods we’ve listed above.

Easy meal ideas with the best anti-inflammatory foods

We’ve come up with some simple meal ideas for all different times of day that are packed with different anti-inflammatory rich foods.

  • Breakfast: A smoothie with strawberries, avocado, kale, and apple, a chia bowl, or oatmeal with berries and little dark chocolate nibs.
  • Lunch: lentils with brown rice and kale or grilled salmon and broccoli. (53)
  • Snacks: fresh berry fruit salad, apples or a piece of 70% + sea salt chocolate, chia seed pudding, or guacamole on a whole-grain toast with black pepper.
  • Beverages: ginger turmeric tea, a kale/apple/spinach/pineapple smoothie, herbal tea, turmeric tea, green tea.

There are lots of different and delicious anti-inflammatory food options you can try —remember to mix it up to maximize your wellbeing!

The bottom line

By regularly incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your diet, you can significantly reduce your risk of illness! Remember to always mix it up and consume a variety of different anti-inflammatory rich foods.

If you want to learn more about the specifics of the anti-inflammatory diet, be sure to check out our full anti-inflammatory diet blog post.

Consistently pick the wrong ones and you could accelerate an underlying inflammatory disease in the process.

Keep in mind that low levels of inflammation can easily go unnoticed, so it’s important to do your best with your diet to keep inflammation in check.

Have a food you think deserves to be a part of this list? Comment below, and we will be sure to do our research and add it to the list if it makes the cut!

If you are a practitioner, consider signing up to Fullscript. If you are a patient, talk to your healthcare practitioner about Fullscript!

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