It seems like every year there are new guidelines of what to eat and what not to eat. For a while, the entire world was rallying against saturated fat in our diets. After a while, that changed to refined carbohydrates. More recently, you may have read about avoiding certain chemicals on your vegetables and eating organic. With all this information in mind, it can become difficult to make healthy decisions on what to eat. Still, it can sometimes be easier to focus on the broad strokes when it comes to eating rather than the specifics.
One thing we’ve recently learned about health and food is how inflammation works. As you may know, if you get a cut or an infection, your body may swell up or become inflamed around the area to protect it. While this is ok in the short-term, being swollen for an extended period of time can damage your body and impair your functioning. Unfortunately, certain foods make our organs and tissues inflamed as well—and it can even affect brain function. Still, we’re going to keep it simple: less inflammation means better overall health, no matter what you’re eating.
With that in mind, here are 10 great foods to help fight inflammation in your body.
1. Green Leafy Vegetables
It should come as no surprise that leafy greens are at the top of the list. After all, consult any dietary guide and they will probably tell you to eat more veggies! The reason for this is that these plants are rich in helpful vitamins, antioxidants and micronutrients which can fight off oxidation in your body and keep you feeling young and healthy. Don’t be too picky in this category—and the more veggies you eat, the better.
In addition to being delicious, pineapples also contain plenty of bromelain, an enzyme that helps your body digest protein and also reduces inflammation in the process. Other studies have shown that eating pineapple can help reduce the symptoms of pain in patients with osteoarthritis in the knees, those with rheumatoid arthritis and even those with carpal tunnel syndrome. Who knew?
3. Dark Chocolate
One of the best recent health pronouncements has been that dark chocolate is actually very beneficial for our health. For one thing, chocolate is packed full of flavonoids, an antioxidant found in plants and fruits which have incredible properties–they are anti-viral, anti-allergic, anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory. Consider this permission to indulge!
As a general rule, the more naturally colorful and rich-looking your foods are, the more likely it is they’re going to better for you (at least, if they’re natural foods). For that reason, beets are particularly good for you. That deep color they have is a sign of their vitamin richness. These little root veggies are full of vitamin C, fiber, potassium, folate and plenty of other earthy goodness.
Much like the leafy green vegetables we mentioned before, broccoli is also no slouch in the health department. These little guys also have plenty of antioxidants, magnesium and potassium to help fight back against oxidation in your body. They also have plenty of flavonoids and carotenoids, both of which also work together to fight cancer.
Although onions are a useful ingredient in many different recipes on a taste-basis alone, they also have some unexpected health benefits. For starters, these things are full of vitamin C, B6, folate, iron and potassium. As an added bonus, they also have manganese inside them which helps fight inflammation (and could provide some cold and flu relief as well).
Although berries of all kinds have health benefits, blueberries are particularly awesome. These are considered a superfood because of their antioxidants, molecules which can help destroy free radicals in your body. Of course, they also taste delicious and go well with smoothies and all sorts of other things. Still, blueberries do have sugar as well so don’t overdo it!
8. Bok Choi
If you’re a fan of various Asian cuisines, you may be familiar with this tasty vegetable. Bok Choi is also known as Chinese cabbage, and it comes full of vitamins C, K and A. As an added bonus it also has the highest concentration of beta-carotene of all the members of the cabbage family, a chemical which helps our vision and our immune system. Gently cook it and serve it with rice or a stir-fry!
Of all the ingredients and foods on this list, ginger may have the longest history of being used as a health food. Aside from containing potassium, manganese, B6 and plenty of other trace vitamins and minerals, ginger also has some special compounds of its own. Its own antioxidant compounds including gingerol, shogaol, paradol and zingerone, many of which help with inflammation and may fight cancer as well.
Anyone who is a fan of Indian food may already be familiar with this magical little spice. If you don’t already know, turmeric is an orange spice which is commonly used in curry and contains a healthy compound known as curcumin, a known anti-inflammatory agent. According to studies, these chemicals are even stronger than aspirin and ibuprofen at taking down swelling!
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