Comprehensive Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food List 

Comprehensive Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food List 

When you get a cut, the affected area often becomes red and swells. This inflammatory reaction shows that your immune system fights bacteria and viruses with inflammatory cells and cytokines. While inflammation can protect you in cases like this, this function is less useful when your body experiences inflammation without a cause. 

The simple immune response described above is known as acute inflammation. Chronic inflammation, on the other hand, is the more harmful variety. 

Often chronic inflammation can occur in organs or joints. It can last for several months or years. Chronic inflammation is associated with many illnesses, including arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and Crohn’s disease. 

Many people try to avoid foods that can stimulate the inflammation process to reduce inflammation. The thought is that an anti-inflammatory diet helps you reduce foods that may contribute to inflammation. It also involves the addition of foods with anti-inflammatory properties. 

It is important to remember that every person’s body can have a different immune reaction to the same food. This variance means that some foods may reduce inflammation in one person but increase inflammation in another. It all comes down to your unique biology. Food allergies and sensitivities can also contribute to inflammation. 

When beginning an anti-inflammatory diet, it is essential to listen to your body. It is alright if your anti-inflammatory diet looks different than someone else. Read on to learn about some general guidelines regarding anti-inflammatory diets. 

What to Eat on an Anti-inflammatory Diet? 

Experimental studies suggest that certain foods can reduce inflammation in your body. 

In general, foods rich in antioxidants and that are not processed are popular options for the anti-inflammatory diet. Nutrient-rich, whole foods are also key to this diet. Antioxidants minimize the presence of free radicals, which can increase inflammation. 

This anti-inflammatory food list provides antioxidants and nutrients, so they should make up the bulk of your diet. 

1. Vegetables 

Several vegetables have antioxidant properties. Broccoli, cauliflower, dark leafy greens, legumes, and sweet potatoes can all help to reduce inflammation. Mushrooms are also a great source of anti-inflammatory phenols if they are eaten raw or only slightly cooked. 

Vegetables should be the primary way you consume carbohydrates if you are trying to eat an anti-inflammatory diet. Vegetables have plenty of fiber that feeds your gut microbiome. It is a good idea to focus on plants as the center of your diet if you are trying to reduce inflammation. 

A 2018 study shows that an increase in vegetable consumption correlates with lower levels of inflammatory markers. The presence of plants in a diet may also increase immune cell levels. Garlic, onion, and other alliums provide added benefits when reducing inflammation. 

2. Fruit

Fruits provide many of the same benefits that vegetables do in terms of being foods that fight inflammation. While sugars, including fructose, can contribute to inflammation, fruits with antioxidants and vitamins can do some good. 

One to two cups of fruit per day is a good guideline. Choose from stone fruits, apples, pears, pomegranates, citrus fruits, berries, and grapes. 

Berries, in particular, are rich in antioxidants and other anti-inflammatory chemicals. Eat plenty of strawberries, blueberries, acai berries, cranberries, pineberries, and goji berries. These fruits make a great option if you need desserts on your anti-inflammatory diet menu. 

3. High-Fat Fruits 

Fruits high in fat, such as avocados, are a beneficial addition to an anti-inflammatory diet. This benefit is because healthy fats are essential to a healthy anti-inflammatory diet. These fats reduce the presence of inflammatory markers. They also reduce the presence of eicosanoids and cytokines.  

Fruits other than avocados that are high in fat include plantains, horned melon, kumquats, passion fruit, jackfruit, and ground cherries. Add these fruits to desserts and salads to gain the benefits of these items. You can also simply consume these as a snack. 

4. Healthy Fats 

Plenty of foods contain healthy fats that contribute to an anti-inflammatory diet. These fats may be polyunsaturated fats or monounsaturated fats. A well-known healthy fat is an omega-3 fatty acid. These fats reduce cholesterol and stimulate metabolism, in addition to reducing some inflammation. 

Some foods that include healthy fats are fish like sardines, halibut, black cod, oysters, and tuna. Fish oil supplements can provide similar benefits without having to cook something. 

As discussed above, you can also find healthy fats in plants. Oil from olives, coconuts, or hemp can provide plenty of healthy fats. Avocados and plantains also provide plenty of healthy fats to your diet. 

5. Fatty Fish 

While red meats can contribute to inflammation, fatty fishes are an animal-based protein source that can help to reduce inflammation. Fatty fish are rich in healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids.

Tuna, salmon, herring, anchovies, mussels, swordfish, sardines, trout, and mackerel can all provide plenty of healthy fats. Other types of fish may have fewer fats and therefore not come with the same benefits. A 2010 study looks into the relationship between inflammation and fatty acids from fish and shows that the connection is strong. 

The proper serving size will depend on the person. In general, you should aim to eat a three- to six-ounce serving of fatty fish two to four times per week. 

6. Nuts 

Not only are nuts versatile and tasty, but their consumption is also associated with a reduced risk of several diseases, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular issues. Nuts are high in healthy fats and protein. They also contain various vitamins and minerals. 

According to a 2016 study, increased nut intake can also reduce inflammation. This reduction is seen by measuring different inflammation biomarkers. 

It is best to eat raw and unsalted nuts since too much sodium can reduce the benefits. You do not need to eat many nuts per day to get the benefits. Stick to about an ounce of nuts per day. Some of the best nuts for reducing inflammation include walnuts, almonds, pistachios, peanuts, chia seeds, and flaxseed. Get more benefits of flaxseed by grinding it first. 

7. Peppers 

Peppers come in all sizes, shapes, and spice levels. All peppers contain capsaicin which can significantly contribute to the reduction of inflammation. These fruits also contain sinapic acid and ferulic acid, which can contribute to less inflammation as well. 

They also contain antioxidants, and they do not provide a lot of sugar. Both of these things are great if you want to reduce inflammation. 

You can easily integrate bell peppers into numerous dishes. You can even simply slice and eat them raw. Red bell peppers may offer the most anti-inflammatory benefits. Chili peppers are also very versatile. You can use them to add spice to a dish. You can also eat them in chili sauces and a jarred form.

8. Chocolate 

Dark chocolate is not only a tasty indulgence but also a great source of flavanols. These chemicals are good for your cardiovascular health, and they reduce inflammation. Even though more studies are needed regarding the impact of chocolate on inflammation, this treat does not seem to cause any damage.  

Keep in mind that the benefits found in dark chocolate are often not also found in milk or white chocolate. This difference is because of a lack of flavanols, and the presence of sugar may increase inflammation. Stick to chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa. Try to eat the darkest chocolate possible. 

Try adding a bit of dark chocolate with dessert or on a chia seed pudding breakfast. You only need to eat about 30 grams of dark chocolate in a day. 

9. Spices 

Several spices are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. This reputation is because they contain antioxidants and anti-inflammatory chemicals. 

Try spices, such as turmeric, black pepper, ginger, and cinnamon in various preparations. These all work well in savory or sweet dishes. Many people enjoy adding these spices to a beverage.

Turmeric is prized for the curcumin it contains. This compound is known for its anti-inflammatory properties. You likely only need a gram of turmeric a day, but more research is needed on this spice. 

Ginger is a very multi-talented root that has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory chemicals. Black pepper is often paired with turmeric to aid with the absorption of curcumin. It also contains a chemical known as piperine which has anti-inflammatory properties. There is also a link between cinnamon and a reduction in inflammation.  

10. Tea 

Several varieties of tea are known for their antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. Green tea, in particular, is known for the presence of epigallocatechin-3-gallate. This chemical reduces cytokine production. 

Herbal teas can also provide benefits. You can drink ginger, rosehip, and basil teas. These beverages have antioxidants and vitamins that can help to reduce inflammation. Rosehip tea contains anti-inflammatory phenolic compounds. 

While you most commonly consumed tea in its simplest form, you can also use tea as a flavoring agent. Certain types of tea, such as matcha are also a popular addition to smoothies and desserts. 

Tea provides the most benefits when consumed in moderation. Too much caffeinated tea can impact your ability to sleep, and it can affect iron absorption. Stick to a few cups of green or black tea per day. 

11. Red Wine 

This ancient beverage may not always seem like it is medicinal. However, it has some major health benefits when you drink it in moderation. To get the benefits of this drink, you should drink about one glass of red wine a day. 

Red wine is known to contain antioxidants. This composition is because the grapes that red wine is made from contain polyphenols. Red wine also contains resveratrol which can reduce inflammation. 

While white wine contains some antioxidants, the levels are not high enough to provide the same benefits that red wine provides. This difference is likely due to the different types of grapes used in the production of the wine and the lack of grape peels used in white wine production. 

What Can’t You Eat on an Anti-inflammatory Diet? 

While it is important to eat foods that reduce inflammation, all your hard work may be a waste if you do not also reduce certain foods that can encourage inflammation. This list includes items that are highly processed, that contain a lot of sugar, and that trigger certain markers of inflammation. 

1. Sugary Beverages 

Sugary beverages such as soda and fruit juices can increase inflammation. This mechanic is because sugar contributes to the production of fatty acids from the liver. Once digested, those acids can cause inflammation. 

While fruit juice is not as harmful as soda, it would be better to get your daily dose of fruit from a piece of fruit rather than the juice. The fiber present in fruit often does not end up in fruit juice. 

2. Refined Carbs

While whole grains and carbohydrates high in fiber can reduce inflammation, refined carbs can increase inflammation. This tendency is because refined carbohydrates are low in fiber. Fiber plays an important role in your diet. It is fuel for your microbiome, and it helps balance your blood sugar. 

Some examples of refined carbohydrates include bread, pasta, cookies, cakes, and several snack foods. You can find a whole grain version of many of these foods if you want a less inflammatory version. 

3. Desserts

You should avoid desserts of various types on an anti-inflammatory diet due to the sugar present and the lack of fiber. As previously mentioned, sugar can lead to inflammation. Skip the cake and ice cream and opt for a fruit-forward dessert. Try ice cream made from bananas and berries, or use sweet ingredients low on the glycemic index, such as monk fruit or agave.  

4. Processed Meats

On the anti-inflammatory diet, meats, in general, should only be consumed in moderation. Processed meats such as hot dogs, bacon, and jerky should all be avoided. Red meat and processed meat contain saturated fats. This type of fat causes inflammation.  

While all meats contain advanced glycation end products (AGEs), processed meats have larger amounts of this substance. Studies show that AGEs cause inflammation.  

5. Processed Snack Foods

Processed snacks can contribute to inflammation because they interact with the gut microbiome. These items lack fiber which is essential for maintaining a healthy gut. When your microbiome is negatively affected, it can trigger an immune response and this leads to inflammation. 

Processed snacks include chips, snack crackers, sugary cereals, cookies, and candy. Instead of choosing processed snacks, eat foods made from whole foods like fruit and vegetables. 

6. Certain Oils

An excess of vegetable oils can damage the balance of omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. As a result, you may experience increased inflammation. While olive oil works well in moderation with the anti-inflammatory diet, soybean and vegetable oils can increase the risk of inflammation. 

7. Trans Fats

Trans fats are unhealthy in several ways. They can increase the risk of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes. They also increase vascular inflammation. So, it is best to have less than a gram of trans fats each day. 

Trans fats can be natural or artificial. The artificial type is commonly found in several processed foods, while the natural version exists in meat and dairy. You can find them in snacks, margarine, shortening, fast food, microwave popcorn, and anything containing hydrogenated vegetable oil. 

8. Alcohol

While some types of alcohol can be beneficial in terms of inflammation, other types of alcohol can increase inflammation. Any kind of alcohol in a large quantity can also cause inflammation. It is best to stick to one or two drinks per day to minimize the risk of inflammation. Pick something like red wine rather than vodka or beer when choosing a drink. 

CRP is a marker commonly found in people with inflammation. This marker has also been found in people who ingest a lot of alcohol. CRP levels positively correlate with a greater intake of alcohol. 

How to Create an Anti-Inflammatory Diet Plan 

Coming up with an anti-inflammatory diet plan may be easier than you think. Simply pick your favorite ingredients from this article, and make them the centerpiece of each dish. It is important to look at your overall diet, in addition to the individual ingredients. 

Consider how many proteins, fats, and carbohydrates you need each day. Balance them throughout your meals by preparing dishes that encompass a wide range of whole, anti-inflammatory foods. 

Try to cook as many meals yourself as possible since this makes it easier to use whole foods in your meals. It is impossible to know the full scope of ingredients restaurants use in their food preparation. Look at dishes that you already cook, remove any inflammatory foods from those dishes, and replace them with the best anti-inflammatory diet foods. 

You can meal prep at the beginning of the week in some cases. So, you may have a week’s worth of quinoa and kale salads. So, you do not need to think about cooking multiple times every day. Having a schedule like this makes it much easier to keep up with eating plenty of anti-inflammatory foods.

Most importantly, make sure that your diet consists of food that you will eat. There is little point to coming up with a whole plan if you do not end up eating what you make. 

How Many Calories Can You Eat While on an Anti-inflammatory Diet? 

The number of calories you need on an anti-inflammatory diet will likely not differ much from a regular diet. This option is not a diet that restricts calories. Instead, it is more focused on providing unprocessed, whole foods. 

On average, people need about 2,000 calories per day. Depending on your age, height, weight, and sex, caloric needs will change. 

What Percent of Your Daily Diet Comes From the Fat Intake on an Anti-inflammatory Diet?

Thirty percent (30%) of your daily diet should come from the fat intake on an anti-inflammatory diet. 

What Percent of Your Daily Diet Comes From Protein Intake on an Anti-inflammatory Diet?

Twenty to thirty percent (20-30%) of your daily caloric intake should be from protein.

 Is the Anti-inflammatory Diet Food List Expensive?

Some items on the anti-inflammatory food list are expensive because the goal of this diet is quality. However, this diet is very adaptable, and those interested in pursuing this change can add plenty of cheaper anti-inflammatory options. 

What Is a Sample Anti-inflammatory Menu for One Week?

To make an anti-inflammatory menu for one week, it is a good idea to put antioxidant-rich ingredients in the bulk of your dishes. 

Some breakfasts you can make include a smoothie, a yogurt parfait with nuts and berries, avocado or whole-wheat toast, eggs with potatoes, oatmeal with fruit, a bowl of fresh fruit, turmeric chia pudding, and a lox omelet. 

You can make simple anti-inflammatory lunch options, such as a green goddess sandwich, cauliflower with roast garlic soup, quinoa and kale salad, an egg salad sandwich, roast vegetables, and shrimp with zucchini noodles. 

Dinner options include salmon with a baked potato and asparagus, chicken with dal, bean stew, brussel sprout salad, skillet chicken thighs with broccoli, roasted salmon with cauliflower rice, and black bean burgers. 

Additionally, consider some anti-inflammatory snacks that you can eat in between meals. Nuts and fruit make a great quick snack. You may also enjoy a hard-boiled egg, dark chocolate, hummus, and guacamole. 

What Are the 6 Foods That Cause Inflammation?

Sugar, trans fats, alcohol, processed meat, processed carbohydrates, and certain vegetable oils are the six main foods that cause inflammation. 

Does Sugar Cause Inflammation in the Body?

Sugar is one of the biggest culprits for causing inflammation in the body. Several studies show how this sweet substance can cause inflammation and other health issues. 

Is Coffee Good While on an Anti-inflammatory Diet?

Some people do find that coffee can reduce inflammation. This experience may be due to the presence of antioxidants in coffee. A study from 2015 indicates that coffee drinkers have fewer inflammatory markers than those who do not drink coffee. 

However, these results may not be valid for everyone. Another study shows coffee increases inflammation in some people. While the full scope is currently unknown, researchers have found that genetics likely influence how you are affected by coffee. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

The Athletic Insight Research team consists of a dedicated team of researchers, Doctors, Registered Dieticians, nationally certified nutritionists and personal trainers. Our team members hold prestigious accolades within their discipline(s) of expertise, as well as nationally recognized certifications. These include; National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer (NASM-CPT), American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA-CPT), National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Nutrition Coach (NASM-CNC), International Sports Sciences Association Nutritionist Certification.