Top 15 Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Dr. Michael Newman, DNM., Ph.D., HHP.
Dr. Michael Newman, DNM., Ph.D., HHP.
March 1, 2024 ·  12 min read

Top 15 Anti-Inflammatory Foods

When a wound swells up, becomes red, and is painful, the body becomes inflamed. This inflammation is the body’s immune response that triggers its defense against irritants such things as germs, foreign objects, or injuries. This response initiates the healing process, which can be acute or chronic ( (Internet), 2010). A significant medical discovery of the past twenty years has been that the immune system and inflammatory processes are involved in more significant health problems than previously thought (Furman et al., 2017). Essentially, while inflammation does play a crucial role in immunity, in excess, it can also contribute to ill health.

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It is becoming increasingly apparent that there is a prevalent trend in today’s society with both mental and physical health issues on the rise. Chronic inflammatory diseases, including heart disease, stroke, cancer, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), diabetes, and autoimmune diseases, have been associated with the most significant cause of death worldwide. More than 50% of all deaths are now attributed to inflammation-related diseases (Bennett et al., 2018) (Furman et al., 2019) (Furman et al., 2017).  

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Inflammation, Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer, and Obesity

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Inflammation increases the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD) due to elevated levels of LDL (low-density lipoprotein), commonly known as “bad cholesterol.” It has been established that this is associated with metabolic syndrome. Furthermore, inflammation is a significant contributor to obesity, type 2 diabetes and CVD (Ridker, 2005). Inflammation is associated with producing reactive oxygen (ROS) and reactive nitrogen oxide species (RNOS), which potentially harm your DNA. Chronic inflammation is a continuous process that increases the risk of mutations and, consequently, the probability of developing cancer. Research studies indicate that inflammation is connected to various types of cancer in all stages of the disease (Mantovani, 2018). Obesity can increase chronic inflammation and is now considered a significant risk factor for cancer, which can be prevented. Studies have revealed a strong correlation between cancer and C-reactive protein (CRP) levels. The link between CRP and cancer is particularly significant in breast cancer and its subtypes, and it is also associated with poor outcomes (Kaur et al., 2019).

What is an anti-inflammatory diet? 

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Dietary approaches and lifestyle modifications are among the many interventions that can help reduce inflammation. Anti-inflammatory diets have existed for centuries, but newer approaches like the Mediterranean and DASH diets aim to prevent and treat diseases by reducing inflammation (Dominguez et al., 2021). These diets are based on similar foundations and are part of a holistic approach to inflammation-related diseases. They mainly consist of seasonal fruits and vegetables, whole grain sources, and unsaturated fats like olive oil. Protein sources include legumes, beans, cold-water fish, and lean proteins like chicken and turkey, while red meat consumption is limited to once every 1 to 2 weeks. Alcohol and processed foods are also limited in these diets (Scheiber & Mank, 2024).

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Foods to Include in an Anti-inflammatory Diet 

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Consuming anti-inflammatory foods may help reduce chronic inflammation associated with health issues such as diabetes, autoimmune disorders, and heart disease. An anti-inflammatory plan should include calorie restriction with adequate protein and a moderate level of low glycemic-load carbohydrates to reduce excess glucose intake. The diet should also be low in total fat, especially saturated fatty acids, known to contribute to inflammation, while having sufficient fermentable fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and polyphenols. By following the anti-inflammatory plan, you can help reduce inflammation caused by your diet (Sears & Saha, 2021). In general the foods in a diet like this can be divided into four main categories: protein, carbohydrates, polyphenols, and, and fermentable fiber.


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Adequate protein intake is vital for long-term adherence to calorie restriction and to help lessen inflammation. Adequate protein levels at every meal help control satiety through protein leveraging (Gosby et al., 2013). The most anti-inflammatory proteins come from plant-based sources, such as legumes (black beans, chickpeas and fava beans), soy foods (tofu, tempeh, and edamame), and fatty fish low in mercury (halibut, herring, mackerel, salmon, and sardines).

2. Carbohydrates

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Not all carbohydrates are created equal and affect our bodies differently once consumed. The term “glycemic load” indicates how quickly the total carbohydrates in your meal raise your blood glucose levels. A diet that mainly consists of high glycemic load carbohydrates has been linked to an increased risk of developing diabetes and heart disease. The foods that trigger the highest glycemic load response contain grains and starches as the primary carbohydrates. Reducing or avoiding these foods and opting for carbohydrates with a low glycemic impact is essential to maintaining a healthy diet, which can minimize inflammatory response. Such carbohydrates include non-starchy vegetables and limited daily fruits (Ludwig, 2002) (Guyenet & Carlson, 2015). Kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, sweet potatoes, string beans, mushrooms, and buckwheat are all low glycemic load carbohydrates.

4. Polyphenols

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According to studies, polyphenols, a class of compounds found in many plant foods, have more than 8,000 identified types (Luca et al., 2019). In addition to their antioxidant activity, polyphenols offer many health benefits. Diets rich in polyphenols may play essential roles in preventing chronic diseases, namely cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and neurodegenerative diseases, all linked to high inflammation in the body (Zekrumah et al., 2023). Dietary polyphenols are naturally occurring compounds in almost all plant-based foods, including fruits, vegetables, and cereals. Berries and flaxseeds are examples of dietary polyphenols. Berries are low in calories and rich in fiber. At the same time, flaxseed may aid in reducing total blood cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (bad) cholesterol levels, which may help lower heart disease risk. 

5. Fermentable Fiber

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The gut bacteria need fermentable fiber from our diet to produce short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). These SCFAs act as signals to maintain the gut barrier’s integrity by reducing inflammation in the gut wall (Parada Venegas et al., 2019). By improving the gut wall’s integrity, metabolic endotoxemia, a significant source of gut-induced inflammation, can be reduced (Cani et al., 2008). Finally, SCFA helps maintain satiety by enhancing the secretion of (PYY) peptide that controls appetite and (GLP-1), another gut hormone peptide released into the bloodstream after a meal (Larraufie et al., 2018). Fermented vegetables and beverages, such as kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha, are natural sources of anti-inflammatory compounds.   

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Top 15 Foods to Include in an Anti-Inflammatory Diet

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  • Legumes – Black beans, Chickpeas, fava beans
  • Soy Foods – tempeh, edamame, and tofu
  • Low mercury Fatty fish – halibut, herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines
  • Fermented Foods – Kimchi, Sauerkraut, Kefir
  • Dark chocolate
  • Avocado
  • Walnuts
  • Green tea
  • Olive oil
  • Turmeric
  • Blueberries
  • Flax Seeds
  • Chia Seeds
  • Cruciferous Green vegetables – i.e., Broccoli or Bok Choy
  • Green Leafy Vegetables

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1. Curcumin

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Curcumin is the active blend found in turmeric that has been shown to reduce inflammation in chronic inflammatory illnesses, such as arthritis, asthma, cardiovascular diseases, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, and psoriasis (Ferguson et al., 2020).
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2. Omega-3 fatty acids

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Omega-3 is a fatty acid abundant in fish, especially salmon or tuna. It is one of the most effective anti-inflammatory supplements. However, the modern diet must include the required amount of fatty fish. Health experts recommend consuming fish at least twice a week to maintain adequate levels of Omega-3. Alternatively, Omega-3 supplements can also fulfill the body’s requirements. These supplements can reduce inflammation, including vascular inflammation associated with heart diseases and heart attacks (Kavyani et al., 2022).
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3. Zinc

Foods High in Zinc as salmon, seafood-shrimps, beef, yellow cheese, parsley leaves, mushrooms, cocoa, pumpkin seeds, garlic, bean, almonds, pine nut. Top view
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Numerous studies have suggested that zinc possesses potent anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce various markers of inflammation. A study conducted by (Marreiro et al., 2017) found that zinc could decrease inflammation caused by oxidative stress among older adults. Oxidative stress triggers inflammation that may increase the risk of several inflammation-related illnesses. However, it is crucial to note that taking more than 40 mg of zinc daily may be dangerous and lead to lower immune function and decreased levels of ‘good’ cholesterol in the long run (National Institutes of Health, 2020). 
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Eating a diet that includes plant-based sources such as legumes, soy foods, and fatty fish, and carbohydrates like kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, sweet potatoes, string beans, mushrooms, buckwheat, and polyphenols in berries and flaxseeds, along with fermented vegetables and beverages like kimchi, sauerkraut, and kombucha, and taking anti-inflammatory supplements such as omega-3 fish oil, zinc, and curcumin can help reduce inflammation markers linked to several diseases, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and immune function. Inflammation is a natural response that helps fight off foreign invaders and heal injuries, but chronic inflammation can lead to various ailments. A diet rich in multiple anti-inflammatory foods and supplements can help manage and reduce inflammation and enhance the body’s organ repair.

Written By: Dr. Michael Newman, DNM., Ph.D., HHP.
Doctor of Natural Medicine, Research Scientist and Board-Certified Holistic Health Practitioner 

Dr. Mike holds a Master’s, Doctorate and Ph.D. in Quantum Natural Integrative Medicine and has been recognized by the International Association of Therapists and the American Association of Drugless Practitioners as an expert in the health field.
Dr. Mike practices Preventative Medicine and specializes in Stress Response Dysfunctions (SRD) and works with individuals who are struggling with stress, anxiety, depression, sleep dysregulation, digestive health issues and weight management.
Dr. Mike holds diplomas in Clinical and Holistic Nutrition, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Master Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP).

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    Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and is for information only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions about your medical condition and/or current medication. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.