10 Anti-Inflammatory Foods

Before resorting to drugs to reduce inflammation, why not first try to manage inflammation with the foods we eat? While we know many foods can contribute to inflammation, there are also foods that can be anti-inflammatory.  A change in your diet to include foods that are known to reduce inflammation could be a natural way to fortify your body with the nutrients known to address the cause of chronic inflammation.

  1. Dark Green Vegetables – Dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, chard, collards, etc., are rich in minerals and antioxidants that can help reduce inflammation. The rule of thumb is that the darker the leaf the better it is at helping the body deal with inflammation.
  2. Berries  - as well as deep red and purple fruits are loaded with antioxidants and free radical-fighting compounds that can aid in the prevention of chronic inflammation. Deep red and purple blueberries, pomegranates, blackberries, strawberries, cranberries and many others are able to block the chemical pathways that create inflammation in the body because they contain anthocyanins which may help inhibit the COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes involved in promoting inflammation.
  3.  Walnuts – numerous studies have demonstrated that walnuts contain phytonutrient with remarkable antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.  Walnuts also contain the highest amount of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids than all other nuts.
  4. Celery and Celery Seeds – contain the flavonoid apigenin, which has been found to protect the body by blocking the inflammatory process. Celery is also rich in another anti-inflammatory compound – luteolin. This nutrient has anti-inflammatory properties that protect against the degeneration of nerve fibers. Luteolin may also help the brain recover after stroke.
  5. Cayenne Pepper - contains capsaicin, the ingredient in cayenne pepper that makes it “hot” also imparts powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Capsaicin protects the body with nuclear transcription factor (NTF)-activation blockers. The nuclei of human cells contain NTFs, two of which are important targets when it comes to the prevention of chronic inflammation. NTFs are activated by pro-inflammatory free radicals that capsaicin can block.
  6. Ginger - has been used for hundreds of years as a natural anti-inflammatory to relieve pain associated with inflammatory joint conditions.  The beneficial nutrients in ginger that offer free radical protection are known as gingerols. These have been shown in studies to reduce discomfort and swelling related to inflammatory joint conditions by suppressing pro-inflammatory cytokines.
  7. Turmeric – is a plant belonging to the ginger family and is used widely in cooking. Curcurmin, a substance found in turmeric, may have a positive effect on the mechanisms that cause inflammation and pain. Curcurmin may also suppress inflammatory pain through a similar action as COX-1 and COX-2 inhibitors such as NSAID drugs.
  8. Green tea – the most well known compounds in green tea are antioxidants.   The Laura W. Bush Institute for Women’s Health at Texas Tech University found that regular green tea drinking can reduce inflammation, particularly in post-menopausal women, and it may also enhance bone health.
  9. Flax Seeds – are rich in the omega-3 fatty acid ALA that the body converts to anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA normally found in fish. However, even regular fish-eaters can benefit from the addition of flax for not only their omega-3’s, but also fiber and phytochemicals known to help reduce inflammation.
  10. Fish and Fish Oil – the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish alleviate inflammation by acting on a receptor found in fat tissue and on inflammatory immune cells called macrophages. Activation of this receptor by omega-3’s block all inflammatory pathways. They have been found to be more potent than any other natural anti-inflammatory. Omega-3’s also suppress 40 to 55% of the release of cytokines, immune system molecules known to destroy joints and cause inflammation.

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