Help fight inflammation with these foods

December 11, 2018 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health

Inflammation is the body’s way of fighting against injury or infection. But when it lingers or flares up in areas where it’s not needed, inflammation can be a problem. Chronic inflammation plays a part in heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis and possibly even depression.

Some simple changes to your diet can help reduce inflammation, says Mary Gardner, RD, LDN, an outpatient dietitian at Edward Hospital. Dropping a few pounds also helps.

“Normally, when people have issues with inflammation, doctors will also recommend weight loss,” says Gardner.

There are certain foods that are more beneficial than others when fighting inflammation.

“Generally, if you include these foods in your overall healthy diet, then you can see some reduction in inflammation,” she says.

Some of the foods Gardner suggests eating include:

  • Fish. Pick fish that are rich in omega-3 fats, such as salmon, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and lake trout. Omega-3 fats help fight inflammation. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish, especially fatty fish, at least two times a week. If you don’t eat fish, try taking a fish-oil supplement.
  • Greens. The greener the better, so go for the spinach or kale instead of iceberg or romaine. Spinach is one of the more popular anti-inflammatory superfoods. Swiss chard is a colorful leafy green to add to your diet, and it is believed that the flavonoids found in Swiss chard work as antioxidants to help reduce inflammation.
  • Healthy fats. Think olive oil, avocados and walnuts. The monosaturated and omega-3 fats found in these foods play an important role in combatting inflammation. But watch out, nuts can be high in calories so watch portion sizes. Still, nuts are a dense food and having a handful of nuts for an afternoon snack will help curb hunger.
  • Berries. Just about any berry will work. The pigments that give berries their color contain antioxidants to reduce inflammation. Berries also make a nice sweet snack that’s low in calories and packed with vitamins and minerals, like vitamin C.
  • Sweet potatoes. They’re rich in vitamin A and beta-carotene, which is a powerful antioxidant. Bake one up and use it as a side dish or top it with other anti-inflammatory foods, such as baked beans or broccoli, and make it a meal.
  • Beans. Filling and a great source of protein, beans also are a good source of fiber and contain polyphenols that work as antioxidants. Research suggests dry beans (like navy beans, black beans, pinto beans and kidney beans) may also help prevent some types of heart disease, diabetes and high blood pressure.

Other foods to help fight inflammation include oranges, broccoli and peppers. Certain spices such as ginger, turmeric and cinnamon are good to have on hand. Green tea is also a healthy drink to add into your diet.

Just as there are plenty of foods that can help in the fight against inflammation, there are also foods to avoid, Gardner says. Eliminating or cutting back on fried foods, sugary drinks, processed foods and refined carbs such as white bread are key to reducing inflammation and for overall health. Limiting dairy intake and meat also is beneficial.

Other common-sense measures such as exercising, drinking water, getting proper sleep and portion control are important as well.

“You have to have the whole balance,” Gardner says.

Learn more about healthy eating and get healthy recipes.

Below are some of Gardner’s favorite inflammation-fighting recipes:


Serving size: 5

4-8 oz. king salmon fillets
1 garlic clove, minced
Juice of 2 limes
Dash of salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 pint strawberries, hulled and diced
1 avocado, diced
1 shallot, minced
2 tbsp cilantro

  • Salmon: stir juice of 1 lime and garlic together. Pour over salmon and marinate for 20 minutes.
  • Dry salmon with paper towel and dash with salt and pepper.
  • Heat skillet to med-high and add 1 tbsp oil. Add salmon, flesh-side down, sear for about 4-5 minutes. Gently flip and sear skin-side down until crisp and golden and fish begins to flake (about another 4-5 minutes). Set aside to rest.<
  • Salsa: combine strawberries, avocado, shallot, cilantro, rest of lime juice, and 1 tbsp olive oil in bowl. Season with dash of pepper.
  • Serve salmon with salsa – enjoy!

Nutrition facts: (per serving – about 6oz) calories: 330, fat: 18g, Omega 3: 3.5g, cholesterol 94mg, sodium: 110mg, carbs: 8g, fiber: 3g, protein: 35g

*Recipe adapted from


Serving size: 1

½ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 tbsp chia seeds
1/8 tsp almond extract
2 tsp pure maple syrup
½ cup fresh blueberries
1 tbsp toasted slivered almonds

  • In a pint size Mason jar, or small bowl, stir together almond milk, chia seeds, maple syrup and almond extract.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours (overnight) and up to 3 days.
  • In the morning, stir pudding well until you get the consistency you like. Spoon half of the pudding into a bowl, add half the almonds and berries. Add rest of the pudding and top with remaining almonds and berries. Enjoy!

Nutrition facts: (per serving) calories: 229, fat: 11g, protein: 6g, carbs: 30g, fiber: 10g, sodium: 91mg

*Recipe adapted from


Serving size: 1


1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tbsp grated fresh turmeric
2 tsp pure maple syrup or honey
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Pinch of ground cinnamon for garnish

  • Combine milk, turmeric, maple syrup or honey, ginger and pepper in blender. Process on high until very smooth, about 1 minute.
  • Pour into a small saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until steaming hot, but not boiling.
  • Transfer to mug. Garnish with cinnamon. Enjoy!

Nutrition facts: (per serving – 1 cup) calories: 70, fat: 3g, carbs: 11g, fiber: 1g, protein: 1g, sugar: 8g, sodium: 172mg

*Recipe adapted from

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