The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
12 Antioxidant-Rich Foods to Boost Your Immune System
Inflammation is an important immune system function. But, when out of control, it can cause serious damage. Inflammation has been linked to major diseases such as Alzheimer’s, arthritis, cancer, diabetes, heart disease and signs of aging.
There’s good news, though: many foods are naturally anti-inflammatory. Antioxidants found in foods protect your cells from the effects of free radicals and can help reduce an overabundance of inflammation in your body.
Seaweed, which has anti-inflammatory properties, contains 14 times more calcium by weight than milk. Photo credit: Shutterstock
Here are 12 natural, anti-inflammatory foods:
1. Beets, with their wonderful red color, are a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Beets can boost your energy and lower your blood pressure. A single serving of 500 milliliters of beetroot juice has been shown to reduce blood pressure by 10.4/8 millimeters. Beets are high in nitrates; this study showed that a serving of beetroot juice boosted athletic performance by one to three percent.
2. Blueberries have been found to reduce inflammation in many studies on animals; there are yet to be more studies done on humans. Studies do indicate that blueberries are good for brain health. It is best to eat organic berries since pesticides on berries are hard to wash away due to their size.
3. Broccoli is loaded with detoxifying antioxidants. Broccoli is a particularly rich source of kaempferol and isothiocyanates, both anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. Research has shown the ability of kaempferol to lessen the impact of allergy-related substances on our body. Broccoli even has a significant amount of omega 3 fatty acids, which is a well known anti-inflammatory.
4. Flaxseed oil has a balance of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. The omega 3 fatty acids reduce inflammation. Research studies show lignans can slow the growth of prostate cancer cells. It was also found that lignans may play an important role in increasing breast cancer survival. Three studies following thousands of women diagnosed with breast cancer were published at PubMed Central (1, 2, 3)
5. Green Tea contains many anti-inflammatory flavonoids. A 2002 study found the most abundant catechin of green tea (epigallocatechin-3-gallate) to be a potent anti-inflammatory compound with therapeutic potential. The antioxidant properties of green tea are so effective that studies have shown a 22 percent reduced risk of developing breast cancer, a 48 percent reduced risk of prostate cancer and an amazing 57 percent reduced risk of colorectal cancer.
6. Garlic can help reduce inflammation. At Washington State University they found garlic to be 100 times more effective than two antibiotics at fighting the Campylobacter bacterium—one of the causes of intestinal illness.
7. Ginger: Ginger helps reduce inflammation and control blood sugar. Ginger tea is a great addition to any diet. A study published in the National Library of Medicine compared ginger extract to common pain killers and found ginger to be very effective in reducing pain.
9. Onions contain quercetin, a potent antioxidant that can help your body fight inflammation. Onions stimulate the respiratory tract and help expell sputum (phlegm). The onion is also a proven antioxidant and may be helpful in treating certain cancers.
10. Seaweed contains a complex carbohydrate called fucoidan that studies have shown to reduce inflammation. Seaweed contains 14 times more calcium by weight than milk. Kelp, kombu, wakame and arame are good sources of seaweed.
11. Spinach is one of the highest nutrient-dense foods. It contains a unique mixture of phytonutrients, is high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory components which help protect against cellular damage.
12. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to be more effective than anti-inflammatory drugs. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, targets multiple steps in the inflammatory pathway at the molecular level.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
42 Nobel Laureates Urge Trudeau to Act With 'Moral Clarity' and Stop Climate-Wrecking Teck Frontier Mine
By Jessica Corbett
In an open letter to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, 42 Nobel laureates implored the federal government to "act with the moral clarity required" to tackle the global climate crisis and stop Teck Resources' proposed Frontier tar sands mine.
Concrete and asphalt absorb the sun's energy. So when a heat wave strikes, city neighborhoods with few trees and lots of black pavement can get hotter than other areas — a lot hotter.
By Tara Lohan
The Santa Fe River starts high in the forests of New Mexico's Sangre de Cristo mountains and flows 46 miles to the Rio Grande. Along the way it plays important roles for wildlife, irrigation, recreation and other cultural uses, and provides 40 percent of the water supply for the city of Santa Fe's 85,000 residents.