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Anti-Inflammatory Superstars

Updated: Dec 13, 2019

If you're like me, you may experience inflammation periodically. And while there are OTC anti-inflammatories available, I prefer to use more natural methods through nutrition and diet. The good news is, is there are quite a few options out there to choose from.

Kale. I love kale, especially lacinato kale. Kale is rich in carotenoids (beta-carotene, and lutein), vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, folate, and calcium. Kale is also rich in compounds that detoxify the liver & reduce oxidative stress. It's super versatile and can be sautéed, steamed, and added to smoothies and salads. Generally, I steam my kale or add it to a smoothie. When you sauté kale, you're adding in fat and you lessen the nutritional value a bit.

Blueberries. I eat blueberries just about every day. I have been known to consume large quantities of Oregon blueberries during the summer months. They're rich in vitamin K and C, manganese, copper, and antioxidants. Blueberries are also low fructose and low glycemic. They improve cardiovascular support, insulin sensitivity, and cognitive function.

Ginger. Ginger is a staple item in our house, as I add fresh ginger to numerous recipes. Besides adding in a dynamic flavor profile, ginger has anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea properties, can be used as an analgesic and an expectorant, can enhance digestive enzyme activity, and help regulate blood sugar.

Sardines. Are high in anti-inflammatory properties, contain long chain omega-3 EPA & DHA fats for brain health and cardiovascular support, are considered to be high in protein, rich in B12, selenium, vitamin D, phosphorus, calcium, and contain the least amount of mercury of all the fatty fish.

Avocado. One of my staple foods. They are super nutritious (and high in calories), so I do eat them in moderation. Avocados are high in healthy fats, and rich in potassium and fiber. They are also a source of vitamin K, folate, magnesium, and lutein, and are considered to be a low sugar fruit.

Pumpkin Seeds. I add them to entrees and of course, eat them raw. In addition to being high in protein and rich in zinc, they have anti-inflammatory properties and are a natural parasite killer.

Dark Chocolate. My most favorite food on the list. I look forward to having a few squares after dinner each night. Dark chocolate can also be added to a variety of foods, including: smoothies, yogurt, pancakes, oatmeal, muffins, and savory dishes. Be aware though, not all chocolate is created equal and there is some debate on what percentage of cacao is best. I generally look for dark chocolate that is 70% cacao and up. Dark chocolate can reduce the risk of heart disease and contains flavanols that may help to protect the heart. It may also lower blood pressure, can induce satiety, and contains anti-inflammatory properties.

Sweet Potato. I'm a big fan of sweet potatoes for a variety of reasons. They're versatile and can be eaten at breakfast, lunch, or dinner, as well as snacks. Sweet potatoes can be roasted, baked, mashed, used as crust for quiche, made into noodles or home fries. These beauties are rich in fiber, potassium (blood sugar control), and carotenoids. Different varieties have unique anti-inflammatory compounds.

BrusselS Sprouts. Brussels sprouts seem to be making a culinary comeback. They too are quite versatile. I like to use them shaved for slaw. Brussels sprouts have similar benefits to kale and other cruciferous vegetables.

Additional foods that help with inflammation:

- broccoli

- bell peppers

- mushrooms (raw or lightly cooked) - grapes (I eat them every day)

- pineapple

- cherries (especially tart cherries) - extra virgin olive oil (aka: EVOO)

- tomatoes

- turmeric

Are there foods that can potentially cause inflammation? Absolutely!

Here are foods known to cause inflammation:

• refined carbohydrates, like white bread and pastries

• French fries and other fried foods

• soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages

• red meat and processed meats (hot dogs, sausage)

• margarine, shortening, and lard

Of course, individuals may find that other foods than those listed above may cause inflammation. For instance, I love cheese and am certain that it causes me inflammation and so I (reluctantly) removed it from my diet a few years ago. Do I miss it? Yup. And I believe I have less inflammation from not eating it, so to me it's worth the sacrifice.

Next time you're reaching for Aleve or Ibuprofen, try adding in some of the foods that are known to help relieve inflammation and see if you begin to feel any relief. For recipes that include many of the foods known to have anti-inflammation properties, take a glance at the recipes under the FOOD tab.

Check out this week's move of the week video: Side Plank Abduction Row on BOSU Ball

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