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The Best Foods for an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

November 30, 2021

Foods are the foundation of our approach to health. The right nutrition is crucial to feeling, performing and functioning at your best. We recommend a dietary approach that lowers inflammation and promotes health and wellness. This optimizes function and performance, with a goal of stable, healthy weight. Rather than focusing on the calories, focus on the quality of the food that you consume. 

Plant-based diets can have a significant impact on your health. Compared with omnivore diets (consuming both plant and animal-based foods), those who follow vegetarian diets have lower risks of depression, obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol, as well as a lower risk of all-cause mortality. Additionally, there has been a positive association between consumption of red meat and certain cancers. Processed meats (sausages, bacon, ham, beef jerky, corned beef and other smoked, salted, fermented or cured meats) have been classified as carcinogens by the World Health Organization (WHO). Consumption of fat-saturated meat and dairy products have been associated with increased rates of multiple chronic illnesses, including heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes, as well as certain types of cancers. 

We call anti-inflammatory foods “givers” because they are nutrient-dense, give us energy and help keep us healthy. These are foods containing “good fats,” like salmon, avocados, seeds and nuts, and fruits and vegetables that contain essential nutrients and antioxidants. Read more to see some favorite foods that we recommend for an anti-inflammatory diet.

Preferred Protein Sources

Legumes/beans: lentils, chickpeas, adzuki beans, etc.

Plant-based products: tempeh, tofu, peas, protein-based meat substitutes. Avoid products containing wheat gluten, as known as Seitan. 

Fresh fish: wild fish is preferred; limit to three servings per week.

Protein powder: try a hemp-based and pea protein powders mixed with a low-sugar milk alternative, like almond milk.

Vegetables                                                                                                                              

The general rule is that if it grows, it’s good for you. Here are some favorite options.

Greens:

Other great vegetable/vegetable-like options:

Alfalfa sprouts
Bean sprouts
Cauliflower
Onions
Shallots
String/green beans
Artichoke hearts
Broccoli
Celery
Pumpkin
Shiitake mushrooms
Turnips

Asparagus
Broccoli rabe
Cucumber
Radishes
Snow pea pods
Zucchini
Avocado
Brussel sprouts
Eggplant
Scallions
Squash

Eat fresh sprouts such as broccoli sprouts, alfalfa sprouts and bean sprouts several times a week.

Limit higher carb veggies, such as carrots, yams and squash to 2-3 servings per week

Preferred Grains

*Quinoa is one of our favorite food options – more of a seed than a grain, it cooks well, has high nutritional value and is gluten-free.

Keep in mind that wheat and oats should be completely avoided by people who are gluten-sensitive, and corn should be avoided entirely by people who have any food sensitivities.

Snack Options

Nuts and Seeds
Raw nuts and seeds are the preferred option. Some examples include:

Almonds
Cashews (in moderation)
Chia seeds
Flaxseeds
Macadamia nuts
Pecans

Pine nuts
Pumpkin seeds
Sesame seeds
Sunflower seeds
Walnuts

Fruit

Those with the best antioxidant effects include:

Blueberries
Cherries
Plums

Raspberries
Red grapes (limit to 10 per serving due to high sugar content)

Citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits in moderation.

Some fruits – including bananas, many varieties of grapes and dried fruit – have high sugar content and should be consumed sparingly. 

Other Healthful Snacks

Brown rice cakes
Raw vegetables           
Soy or almond yogurt           

Vegetable protein shake     
Whole grain crackers (Mary’s Gone Crackers and Ryvita are preferred brands) 

Spreads and dips, including hummus, guacamole, almond butter, tahini, tofu spread and pesto, are great options for any of the snacks listed above.

Healthful drinks

Green tea
Herbal tea
Spring or filtered water