10 foods that can help to fight inflammation

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Qualified Nutritionist (BSc, MSc, RNutr)
Ask Emma

06 February 2018

1 – Blueberries

Hardly a surprising entry on this list, blueberries are renowned as a famous, antioxidant-rich superfood and they’re brimming with one nutrient, in particular, that’s of interest when it comes to inflammation – quercetin. A flavonoid that’s especially prevalent in berries, quercetin can help to combat inflammation and is believed to be the source of claims that blueberries can help to reduce cognitive decline and prevent oxidative stress.

In one study particularly, blueberries really proved their worth. In this experiment, athletes were invited to complete a strenuous 2 and a half hour run on a treadmill, with one group consuming 375g of blueberries before the event.

Afterwards, blood samples were taken and the researchers found that the blueberry group only had a 55% increase in oxidation compared to the other group, which saw an increase of 129%! They also found that the blueberry group experienced an increase in interleukin-10, an anti-inflammatory cytokine, cementing their anti-inflammatory benefits!1

My inspiration for all things blueberry

Raspberry and Blueberry Smoothie with Coconut Milk


2 – Chia seeds

Another famous superfood, chia seeds have been trending for years now and for good reason! They’re an excellent source of omega fatty acids, being rich in omega-3 and omega-6 as well as ant-inflammatory ALA (Alpha Linoleic Acid) protein, fibre and calcium.

Similar to blueberries, chia seeds are more than capable of tackling oxidative stress and inflammation, helping to regulate cholesterol and support healthy blood pressure.

Their content of calcium also makes them popular with those who have had trouble with their bones because they help to maintain bone strength and density. It’s this, combined with their high amounts of fibre and ALA that makes chia seeds particularly popular with sufferers of arthritis.2 

My inspiration for all things chia seed

Cinnamon and Chia Seed Energy Balls
Coffee Chia Puddings


3 – Ginger

Often overlooked in favour of its more popular cousin turmeric, ginger shouldn’t be forgotten about when it comes to its extraordinary health benefits. Traditionally used to help soothe symptoms of indigestion and nausea, this root is also surprisingly capable of reducing inflammation, with research indicating that ginger can affect certain inflammatory processes on a cellular level.3

This is perhaps why ginger is commonly associated with reducing menstrual pain, with studies also indicating that ginger is capable of diminishing muscle and joint pain over an extended period of time.4

My inspiration for all things ginger

Kiwi & Ginger Green Smoothie
Carrot & Ginger Soup



4 – Spinach

If you know anything about healthy eating, you’re probably all clued up about this entry. Spinach is famous for its incredible antioxidant benefits, being a rich source of iron, magnesium and vitamins A & K.

When it comes to its anti-inflammatory benefits, spinach has its high content of flavonoids to thank. It can help to reduce inflammatory responses by the immune system, protecting your cells from oxidative stress.

As I’ve already mentioned, spinach also contains a decent amount of vitamin K which is essential for building healthy bones, making it particularly useful for preventing conditions such as Osteoporosis, where bone density is affected.

My inspiration for all things spinach

Spinach & Potato Curry
Apple & Spinach Smoothie

5 – Olive Oil

If you read my blog ‘What are the world’s healthiest diets?’ you’ll already know my feelings about olive oil. This nutritious oil is exceptionally rich in healthy fats and omega 3 & 6 fatty acids, as well as monounsaturated fat called oleic acid which is believed to help diminish inflammation.

It’s also an excellent source of antioxidants, which only adds to its anti-inflammatory action. In fact, some even believe that one compound, in particular, oleocanthal, is comparable to ibuprofen!Olive oil is extremely easy to add to your meals – you can cook your veg in olive oil, drizzle it over your salads or incorporate it into dressings. Just remember, organic and extra virgin are always best!

My inspiration for all things olive oil

Roast Pumpkin with Crispy Sage and Tahini Dressing
Roasted Beetroot Dip


6 - Bok Choy

Bok Choy, sometimes known as ‘Chinese cabbage’ is often found in stir-fries and salads. This cruciferous vegetable provides plentiful amounts of vitamin C and beta carotene, which can be converted into vitamin A. It’s also rich in lutein and zeaxanthin, helping to protect and nourish your eyes.

When it comes to inflammation, though, Bok Choy brings it’s A game, containing liberal quantities of ALA and vitamin K, which can help to regulate your body’s response to inflammation, making it especially relevant if you suffer from cardiovascular problems or issues with your muscles and joints.

My inspiration for all things Bok Choy

Lemon Garlic Bok Choy
Sweet and Sticky Tofu with Baby Bok Choy

7 – Celery

Over the years, celery has been linked to everything, from lowering cholesterol to reducing bloating, however, it’s anti-inflammatory properties often don’t get shouted about enough, which is a real shame. Celery is a rich source of flavonoids and polyphenol antioxidants.

Helping to fight free-radical damage, these compounds can also lower the oxidative stress that can act as a precursor for inflammation. Celery also contains our old friend quercetin, similar to blueberries, making it an excellent option for sufferers of joint pain. Celery has also been linked to reduced levels of uric acid, protecting your digestive tract against bacterial infections!

My inspiration for all things celery

Celery & Potato Soup
Fennel & Celery Salad

8 – Pineapple

When the sun’s out, pineapple gets its time to shine, being incorporated into everything from fruit bowls to ice cream. It’s definitely one of my favourite fruits and offers plenty of collagen-boosting vitamin C as well as over half of your daily recommended amount of manganese, keeping your bones strong and healthy.

Pineapple also contains bromelain, an enzyme that has been known to activate certain immune cells, boosting your immunity, as well as easing inflammation. Impressive! Their rich content of vitamin C also helps to improve your skin and diminish your risk of macular degeneration so definitely make sure you don’t skip over this tropical fruit.

My inspiration for all things pineapple

Pineapple & Avocado Smoothie
Pineapple Ice Lollies

9 - Turmeric

In a list of anti-inflammatory foods, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention turmeric. This root has certainly garnered a lot of attention recently and its fame isn’t showing any signs of slowing down yet. 

Suffice to say, turmeric is tasty and multitalented but, when it comes to inflammation, it has a secret weapon – curcumin. A natural anti-inflammatory, curcumin is exceptionally potent, targeting inflammation at a molecular level. Its efficacy has been compared to conventional medications, however, turmeric has one bonus – no unfortunate side-effects!

However, while it’s always a good idea to increase your dietary intake, it may also be worth investing in a supplement. 

10 - Walnuts

Considered by many to be an essential brain food, walnuts are loaded with healthy fats as well as fibre, protein and an array of antioxidants and amino acids.

Their content of L-arginine, in particular, makes them beneficial for your heart but its walnut’s unique content of quinone juglone, a rare antioxidant that’s not usually found in commonly eaten foods, that makes it especially gifted at tackling oxidative stress and free-radical damage.

As we’ve already discussed, oxidative stress can trigger an inflammatory reaction so walnuts might be a useful addition to your diet!

My inspiration for all things walnuts

Spicy Nut Roast
Pumpkin Tagliatelle

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