Inflammation is your body’s natural immune system fighting an invader. Blood vessels expand, fluid, protein and white blood vessels build up to contain damage or infection. Chronic inflammation can damage cells, tissues, and organs. This contributes to cardiovascular disease, stroke, autoimmune disease, neurological disease, lung disease, diabetes, arthritis and cancer.

Obesity is a common link to inflammation. Fat cells secrete pro-inflammatory compounds. Weight loss will reduce this. Berries, tomatoes, walnuts, soy foods, leafy greens and tumeric may fight inflammation. Reduce beef, pork, lamb and processed meats. Salmon, herring and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids so they reduce risks. Beans, lentils and dried peas are rich in protein and provide fiber, iron, potassium, B vitamins and phytochemicals that fight inflammation.

Casserole dish with veggies

Pistachios, sunflower and pumpkins seeds supply protein, fiber, healthy fats, vitamin E, and phytochemicals. Walnuts, flax seeds and others are good sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3s.

Refined carbohydrates provide little nutrition and may increase inflammation: avoid white bread, muffins, cakes, and cookies. Oats, whole wheat, brown rice, wild rice, millet and amaranth are healthful whole grains. Studies have linked these foods with lower risks of stroke, diabetes, heart disease, asthma, colorectal cancer and obesity.

Choose a variety of vegetables for a wide range of phytochemicals. Tomatoes reduce risks of heart disease and prostate cancer; best when cooked and paired with a healthy fat like olive oil. The benefits come from lycopene.

Yellow orange squash, carrots and sweet potatoes furnish vitamins A, B6, C, fiber and beta carotene. Green leafy vegetables contain various B vitamins, vitamins A, C, E and K, beta carotene, iron, magnesium potassium, calcium and lower inflammation. Studies suggest these lower risk of coronary artery disease, stroke and cognitive decline. A variety of mushrooms are linked with reduced inflammation. Cruciferous vegetables, berries, apples, cherries, peaches, grapes, citrus, pomegranates reduce blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar.

Limiting saturated fats is one strategy to slow inflammation. These fats are in meats, poultry, dairy foods, lard, palm and coconut oils. Unsaturated fats are olives and avocados. Olive oil is the best. It may improve blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and the dilation and constriction of blood vessels. Avocados have the healthy fats and improve heart health.

Garlic is packed with anti-inflammatory compounds. Turmeric has been linked to anti-inflammatory actions. Modest amounts and good-quality chocolate may lower inflammation and boost heart health. Avoid sugary drinks. Multiple studies have linked coffee reducing heart disease, diabetes, liver disease and some types of cancer.

Hopefully, all this information can help putting it all together to have an anti-inflammatory plate!