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The Top Anti-inflammatory Foods List

Inflammation is your body’s response to injury, irritation, or infection. It’s a natural bodily response and an entirely normal part of the healing process. However, it’s also possible that low levels of unchecked, chronic inflammation could be silently wreaking havoc on your health. Chronic inflammation has been identified as a major contributor to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and other chronic illnesses. (36)

Luckily, incorporating anti-inflammatory foods into your diet is a practical (and tasty) way to offset harmful inflammation.

Top 13 anti-inflammatory foods

The 13 foods included below are among the best of the best when it comes to anti-inflammatory effects.

1. Avocados Ah, avocados. How could they not make the list? Avocados come with a laundry list of health benefits, but it’s the sugars found in avocados that may make them particularly good at reducing inflammation. One study found that AV119, a patented blend of sugars found in avocado, was effective in blocking the proinflammatory response in keratinocytes, specific cells involved in the body’s innate immune response. (6)

In another study where participants ate hamburgers with or without a slice of Hass avocado on top, those who ate the burger with the added avocado topping had lower levels of inflammatory markers following the meal. (31)

2. Berries — açai, blueberries, strawberries, kiwi berries, raspberries, and blackberries I’m sure this isn’t the first time you’ve heard that berries are overall very, very good for you. Their high antioxidant levels ⁠— specifically antioxidants called anthocyanins—are what make berries particularly beneficial when it comes to targeting inflammation. In one study where overweight men and women ate strawberries for six weeks every day, the results suggested that eating strawberries can offset the intake of unhealthy foods that trigger inflammation. (7)

Although there are countless varieties of berries, some of the most studied for their anti-inflammatory properties are:

  • Açai berries (30)

  • Blueberries (33)

  • Blackberries (4)

  • Black currants (28)

  • Raspberries (24)

  • Strawberries (7)

  • Kiwi berries (29)

Kiwi berries are nutritional ninjas poised to be the next Açai popularity-wise. New research has shown kiwi berries have potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powers. (11)

Did you know? Kiwi berries contain over 20 essential nutrients and a range of vitamins. (1)

3. Tomatoes Tomatoes and tomato juice are both chock-full of several antioxidants with powerful anti-inflammatory properties, such as vitamin C, lycopene, and potassium. Tomatoes happen to be the richest source of lycopene in a traditional Western diet. Lycopene is particularly effective at reducing inflammation, as well as the risk of certain cancers and heart disease. In one study with 106 obese and overweight females, drinking 330 ml of tomato juice daily for 20 days was shown to reduce levels of inflammation. (2)(14)(22)(41)

Did you know? Cooking tomatoes in olive oil can increase your ability to absorb lycopene when you eat them, as the cooking process appears to make lycopene more available. (10)

4. Cherries Does eating 45 cherries a day keep inflammation away? Studies have shown it can! Packed full of antioxidants like catechins and anthocyanins, cherries are very effective at decreasing oxidative stress and fighting inflammation. In one study, where participants ate 280 grams of cherries daily for a month, levels of inflammatory biomarkers were significantly reduced. The best part? The levels stayed low for 28 days after they had stopped consuming cherries daily! (9)(23)(25)

Both sweet and tart cherries have been shown to contain antioxidants that reduce inflammation and combat chronic illness.

Did you know? There have been at least sixteen published human studies that have examined the connection between cherry consumption and inflammatory markers. (25)(26)

5. Turmeric Turmeric, a spice derived from the rhizome of the Curcuma longa plant, has long been recognized for its medicinal properties. The beneficial effects of turmeric include anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and antioxidant activity. Turmeric is composed of approximately two to five percent curcumin, its most active component, commonly found in supplement form. However, research has found that several of the health benefits of this spice occur independently of curcumin, which suggests there may be additional benefits to consuming whole turmeric. (18)

6. Mushrooms — oysters, enokis, shiitakes, honey browns, and white buttons Mushrooms are rich in selenium, B vitamins, copper, phenols, and other antioxidants that provide anti-inflammatory protection against inflammatory conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). (8)(13)(37)