Foods that Help Fight Inflammation
Mrudula Aher

Mrudula Aher

Jun 24Nutrition

Foods that Help Fight Inflammation

What is inflammation?

Inflammation is your body’s natural defence mechanism against foreign intruders like bacteria, irritants or pathogens, or injury or diseases. Inflammation is classified into two main types:

  • Acute inflammation usually occurs for a short but mostly duration. It is often cured in two weeks or less. It restores your body to normalcy before injury or illness.
  • Chronic inflammation is a slower and less severe form of inflammation that usually lasts more than six weeks. It can occur even without injury, and it doesn’t always end when the illness or injury is healed. Chronic inflammation can be associated with autoimmune disorders and even prolonged stress.

An anti-inflammatory diet can help reduce inflammation and improve common health conditions including rheumatoid arthritis. There is no single anti-inflammatory diet, but any diet that includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and more may help manage inflammation.

What is an anti-inflammatory diet?

An anti-inflammatory diet is an eating plan structured to minimize low-grade chronic inflammation which is a key risk factor for many health problems and major diseases. A typical anti-inflammatory diet comprises fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, lean protein, and healthy fats.

Who can it help?

An anti-inflammatory diet may help with many conditions that may worsen with chronic inflammation. These conditions include:

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Colitis
  • Psoriasis
  • Eosinophilic esophagitis
  • Asthma
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Lupus
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
  • Metabolic syndrome (conditions that occur simultaneously, including type 2 diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease).


What all foods can be taken to reduce inflammation?

Many health experts suggest that people who consume vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, healthy oils, and fish in huge amounts, may have a reduced risk for inflammation-related diseases. Also, the antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids found in different foods possess anti-inflammatory properties.


Berries are packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Some of the most common berries include strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Berries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins which have anti-inflammatory effects that may reduce your risk of disease.


Broccoli contains sulforaphane, an antioxidant that fights inflammation by reducing your levels of cytokines and NF-kB, which may lead to inflammation. All cruciferous vegetables, along with cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and kale may be beneficial in reducing the risk of heart disease and cancer.

Fatty fish

Fatty fish are rich in protein and the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.EPA and DHA reduce inflammation that can lead to metabolic syndrome, heart disease, diabetes, etc. Although all types of fish contain some omega-3 fatty acids, fishes with the highest nutrient content are salmon, sardines, mackerel, and anchovies. Out of these, mackerel is most commonly found in the Indian market. Your body metabolizes these fatty acids from fish, into compounds called resolvins and protectins, which have anti-inflammatory properties.


Avocados are rich in potassium, magnesium, fiber, and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. They also contain carotenoids and tocopherols, which may reduce the risk of cancer and inflammation in young skin cells.


Bell peppers and chili peppers are packed with vitamin C and antioxidants called quercetin, which may reduce oxidative damage in people with sarcoidosis, an inflammatory disease. Chili peppers contain sinapic acid and ferulic acid, which may reduce inflammation and unhealthy ageing.

Green tea

Green tea contains huge amounts of antioxidants and a substance called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) which inhibits inflammation by reducing pro-inflammatory cytokine production, damaging the fatty acids in the body cells, and reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, and other conditions.


Edible and commercially grown mushrooms that include truffles, portobello mushrooms, and shiitake. They're rich in selenium, copper, all the B vitamins, phenols, and other antioxidants that provide anti-inflammatory protection. A special type of mushroom called lion’s mane may specifically reduce low-grade, obesity-related inflammation.


Turmeric is rich in curcumin which is a powerful anti-inflammatory nutrient that may reduce inflammation related to arthritis, diabetes, and other diseases. Consuming 1 gram of curcumin daily combined with piperine derived from black pepper may decrease the risk of metabolic syndrome.


Grapes are packed with anthocyanins and resveratrol, which reduce inflammation and decrease the risk of several diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, obesity, Alzheimer’s, and eye disorders.

Extra virgin olive oil

Extra virgin olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats which provides numerous health benefits. It contains oleocanthal, an antioxidant that offers greater anti-inflammatory benefits than those provided by more refined olive oils.


Tomatoes are high in vitamin C, potassium, and lycopene, an antioxidant that may be particularly beneficial for reducing pro-inflammatory compounds related to several types of cancer. A quick tip to remember is that cooking tomatoes in olive oil can maximize the amount of lycopene you absorb since lycopene is a carotenoid, a nutrient that’s better absorbed with a source of fat.

Dark chocolate and cocoa

Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants that reduce inflammation and risk of disease and lead to healthier aging. It also contains flavonoids that are responsible for chocolate’s anti-inflammatory effects, that keep the endothelial cells lining your arteries healthy.


Cherries are rich in antioxidants, such as anthocyanins and catechins, which help fight inflammation. Research suggests that 280 grams of cherries per day for 1 month decreased the levels of the inflammatory marker CRP.

What foods trigger inflammation?

  1. Omega-6 fatty acids help maintain bone health, regulate metabolism, and promote brain function. However, they are known to increase the body's production of inflammatory chemicals. So, you must balance your intake of omega-6 fatty acids with your intake of omega-3 fatty acids to keep inflammation in check. Foods high in omega-6 fatty acids include:
  • Meat
  • Dairy products (such as milk, cheese, butter, and ice cream)
  • Margarine
  • Peanuts
  • Vegetable oils (such as corn, soybean, safflower, peanut, and cottonseed oil)

Since vegetable oils are high in omega-6 fatty acids, replace them with oils like olive oil or avocado oil.

2. Taking foods that have high-glycemic-index like sugar and refined grains, white bread, and many processed foods, may increase inflammation.

3. Gluten may induce an inflammatory reaction in some people. A gluten-free diet can be restrictive, people with gluten intolerance may eliminate it for a while to see if their anti-inflammatory symptoms improve.

4. Avoid drinks rich in sugar, refined carbohydrates, desserts, and processed food.

5. A high-carb diet, even when the carbs are healthy, may promote inflammation in some people. However, some carb-rich foods, such as sweet potatoes and whole grains, are rich in antioxidants and other nutrients that may be beneficial in reducing anti-inflammatory symptoms.

6. Plants belonging to the nightshade family, such as tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and potatoes, may trigger flares in some people with inflammatory diseases. While this is not confirmed, a person may cut from the diet for 2–3 weeks to see if their symptoms improve.

Quick anti-inflammatory diet tips

It can be challenging to adapt to a new diet, but the following tips may help:

  1. Choose fruits, vegetables, and healthy snacks over junk food or unhealthy snacks.
  2. Replace packed foods with fresh, homemade food.
  3. Replace sugary beverages with still or sparkling mineral water.
  4. Include 30 minutes of exercise into the daily routine.
  5. Practice good sleep for a minimum of 6 hours.
  6. Talk to your healthcare expert about taking supplements, such as cod liver oil or so.

Final Words

An anti-inflammatory diet may help reduce inflammation and symptoms of some common health conditions. Be mindful of keeping inflammation in check by choosing a wide variety of delicious, antioxidant-rich foods. People with chronic health conditions that involve inflammation should consult a healthcare professional about the best diet for them.

Disclaimer: This information is educational and should not be construed as medical advice. Please consult your doctor before making any dietary changes or adding supplements.

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