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Chronic inflammation has been associated with an increased risk of arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and cancer. Sure, some inflammation is good—like the acute kind is a form of self-protection, your body's immune response to a cut or pathogens entering the body. Chronic inflammation, however, means that your body is constantly producing immune cells, which can damage the body. This harmful inflammation is a result of never-ending stress, being overweight or a diet high in things like sugar, trans fats and various toxins.
Chronic inflammation means that your body is constantly producing immune cells, which can damage the body. Photo credit: Shutterstock
But while the wrong diet promotes excessive inflammation, a diet rich in clean foods can help reduce it and its harmful effects on your body. The following foods in particular are anti-inflammatory powerhouses:
1. Spices and Herbs
Herbs and spices like basil, rosemary, thyme, oregano, turmeric, peppercorns, ginger and cinnamon are loaded with all sorts of antioxidants that have even been found to reduce pro-inflammatory compounds that build up on meat during grilling. And ginger and turmeric, in particular, have been linked to joint pain relief. Add them to marinades, dressings, spice rubs and teas for a dose of health and flavor.
Soy can reduce the inflammation marker C-reactive protein, which is linked to cardiovascular disease. Incorporate clean sources of soy into your diet, such as tempeh or edamame.
3. Cold-Water Fish
Salmon, black cod, sardines and anchovies are full of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon is a particularly good choice—its rosy pink color comes from carotenoids, which also have anti-inflammatory properties.
4. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are high in vitamins C and E and the carotenoids alpha- and beta-carotene, all of which reduce inflammation and promote healthy, vibrant skin.
Walnuts contain alpha- linolenic acid—an omega-3 fatty acid that reduces inflammation and is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Green, black and white teas contain free radical-fighting catechins, which have recently been associated with reduced muscle inflammation and a speedier recovery after exercise.
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