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Reduce Inflammation With These Key Foods

Inflammation. It’s not just for health headlines.

It’s a fact.

Scientists are measuring levels of inflammation in our bodies and finding that it can be pretty bad for our health; this is especially true when it’s chronic (i.e. lasts a long time).

Inflammation has been linked to obesity, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes, just to name a few.

But, instead of writing all about what it is, how it’s measured, and where it comes from; why don’t I focus on some foods packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidants that are proven to help reduce it?

Here are my top anti-inflammatory food recommendations:

Anti-inflammatory Food #1: Berries, Grapes, and Cherries

Why save the best for last? Perhaps the most amazingly delicious anti-inflammatory foods are a sweet favourite of yours?

Berries, grapes, and cherries are packed with fiber, and antioxidant vitamins (e.g. vitamin C) and minerals (e.g. manganese).

Oh, and did I forget to mention their phytochemicals (phyto=plant)? Yes, many antioxidants such as “anthocyanins” and “resveratrol”  are found in these small and delicious fruits.

In fact, berries, grapes, and cherries may be the best dietary sources of these amazingly healthy compounds.

Anti-inflammatory Food #2: Broccoli and Peppers

Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable that contains the antioxidant “sulforaphane.” This anti-inflammatory compound is associated with reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.

Bell peppers, on the other hand, are one of the best sources of the antioxidants vitamin C and quercetin.

Just make sure to choose red peppers over the other colours.  Peppers that are any other colour are not fully ripe and won’t have the same anti-inflammatory effect.

I pack these two super-healthy vegetables together in this week’s recipe (see below).

Anti-inflammatory Food #3: Healthy Fats (avocado, olive oil, fatty fish)

Fat can be terribly inflammatory (hello: “trans” fats), neutral (hello: saturated fats), or anti-inflammatory (hello: “omega-3s), this is why choosing the right fats is so important for your health.

The best anti-inflammatory fats are the unsaturated ones, including omega-3s. These are linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.

Opt for fresh avocados, extra virgin olive oil, small fish (e.g. sardines and mackerel), and wild fish (e.g. salmon). Oh and don’t forget the omega-3 seeds like chia, hemp, and flax.

Anti-inflammatory Food #4: Green Tea

Green tea contains the anti-inflammatory compound called “epigallocatechin-3-gallate”, otherwise known as EGCG.

EGCG is linked to reduced risk of heart disease, certain cancers, obesity, and Alzheimer’s.

Drinking steeped green tea is great, but have you tried matcha green tea? It’s thought to contain even higher levels of antioxidants than regular green tea.

Anti-inflammatory Food #5 – Turmeric

Would a list of anti-inflammatory foods be complete without the amazing spice turmeric?

Turmeric contains the antioxidant curcumin.

This compound has been shown to reduce the pain of arthritis, as well as have anti-cancer and anti-diabetes properties.

I’ve added it to the broccoli and pepper recipe below for a 1-2-3 punch, to kick that inflammation.

Anti-inflammatory Food #6: Dark Chocolate

Ok, ok. This *may* be slightly more decadent than my #1 pick of berries, grapes, and cherries.

Dark chocolate, with at least 70% cocoa is packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidants (namely “flavonols”). These reduce the risk of heart disease by keeping your arteries healthy. They’ve even been shown to prevent “neuroinflammation” (inflammation of the brain and nerves). Reducing neuro-inflammation may help with long-term memory, and reduce the risk of dementia and stroke.

Make sure you avoid the sugary “candy bars.” You already know those aren’t going to be anti-inflammatory!

Conclusion

There are just so many amazingly delicious and nutritious anti-inflammatory foods you can choose. They range from colourful berries, vegetables, and spices, to healthy fats, and even cocoa.

You have so many reasons to add anti-inflammatory foods to your diet to get your daily dose of “anti-inflammation.”

Recipe (Broccoli, Pepper, Turmeric): Anti-inflammatory Quinoa

Serves 2

¾ cup dry quinoa (pre-rinsed)

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 bell pepper, chopped

1 dash salt

½ tbsp turmeric1 dash black pepper

2 cups broccoli, chopped

In a saucepan place 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add the quinoa and simmer until the water is absorbed (about 10-15 minutes).

Melt coconut oil in a skillet. Add diced onions, turmeric, pepper and salt, and lightly sauté for a few minutes.

Add broccoli and lightly sauté for 5-6 minutes, until it becomes softened.

Add the cooked quinoa and stir everything together.

Serve & enjoy!

Tip: Add some cayenne pepper or curry spice for an extra spicy kick.

References:

https://authoritynutrition.com/13-anti-inflammatory-foods/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4717884/
https://authoritynutrition.com/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-green-tea/
https://authoritynutrition.com/matcha-green-tea/
http://neurotrition.ca/blog/brain-food-essentials-cacao
http://leesaklich.com/foods-vs-supps/foods-vs-supplements-the-turmeric-edition/

The Power of Cherries

So it’s that time of year when fruit is in abundance, let’s talk about one of my favourites and how they benefit your health.

Cherries have traditionally been recommended and used for gout prevention, and the medical studies have shown that uric acid drops after eating Bing Cherries. (Journal of Nutrition June 2003). Elevated uric acid triggers the excruciating pain of a gout attack, so this finding supports the potential usefulness of cherries against gout. Another study at the University of Texas health Science found that tart Montmorency cherries contain significant amounts of melatonin.

Melatonin is a hormone that is produced in the brain’s pineal gland that helps regulate the body’s circadian rhythms, to help regulate sleep and wake patterns. In addition research has shown that melatonin may slow the aging process. In higher doses it has also been used for breast cancer treatment, and low melatonin has been linked to breast cancer risks. Shift workers often have issues with sleep and melatonin. Also certain sleeping medications effect melatonin production. This hormone also has  strong antioxidant properties that help reduce inflammation and support the immune system. Maintaining high antioxidant levels lowers a person’s risk for disease, stimulates the immune system which also protects the nervous system. Antioxidant strength is measured in Oxygen Radical Absorbance (ORAC) units. The higher the ORAC score, the better a food is at helping our bodies fight disease. Nutritionists estimate that we should consume 3,000 to 5,000 units a day to reach an antioxidant capacity in the blood that would have health benefits. Tart cherries are one of the riches sources of flavonoids called anthocyanins, the plant pigment responsible for the rich red colour of cherries. Anthocyanins appear to have the greatest antioxidant capacity of all the flavonoids and have been linked to a variety of health benefits, from protecting against heart disease and cancer to keeping the mind sharp. Tart cherries are rich in phenolic compounds such as the potent antioxidants egallic acid, kaempferol, and quercitin. Scientific studies have shown that egallic acid is a potent anticancer and anti atherosclerotic compound, and that phenolic compounds, enhance cancer cell death. Michigan State University found that tart cherries contained high concentrations of anthocyanins 1 and 2, which help block enzymes in the body known as COX-1 and COX -2 the same process whereby medications like aspirin and ibuprofen inhibit pain. We now have a growing body of scientific evidence that supports the remarkable health benefits of tart cherries for inflammation, gout, sleep and anti cancer and immune protecting benefits.

So add some of these sweet cherries to your daily fruit intake today.