Health

18 Anti-Inflammatory Foods to Eat to Reduce Pain

Fill up on these nutritious whole foods to nourish your body, stop pain, and ease painful inflammation.

Olive oil

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have found that a chemical in extra-virgin olive oil, oleocanthal, inhibits inflammatory enzymes in the same way that ibuprofen does. Drizzle olive oil on veggies and salads, and dunk bread into it instead of patting on butter or margarine.

Pineapple

Bromelain, a protein-digesting enzyme, makes this tropical fruit one of the most potent anti-inflammatory foods. Studies show that eating pineapple may reduce pain in patients with knee osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis and lower swelling in people with carpal tunnel syndrome.

Apples

These popular fruits are just one of the many foods that reduce inflammation because they contain quercetin, an anti-inflammatory antioxidant. No wonder one a day keeps the doctor away.

Nuts and seeds

Various nuts and seeds have a good amount of magnesium, l-arginine and vitamin E, which may play a role in keeping inflammation under control. The ideal option is the raw, unsalted nuts. The Arthritis Foundation National Office specifically recommends walnuts, peanuts, almonds, pistachios, flax seed, and chia seeds, too.

Green, leafy vegetables

Vegetables, like kale, chard, bok choy, and silverbeet are anti-inflammatory foods because they’re packed with anti-inflammatory carotenoids, which are plant pigments that give green and orange produce their vibrant color.

Dark chocolate

Yes, you read that correctly. Dark chocolate contains chemicals and anti-oxidants that help fight inflammation. According to a large Italian study, people who ate about one square of dark chocolate every three days had significantly lower measures of a protein associated with inflammation than those who ate no chocolate at all.

Brown rice

Brown rice and other whole grains high in fiber can help fight inflammation. Fiber is known to lower c-reactive protein, a substance found in the blood produced by the liver in response to inflammation, Healthline reports.

Grapes

Chomp on some grapes or mulberries or sip wine (yes!) for a dose of resveratrol, which inhibits inflammatory enzymes in much the same way aspirin does (but without the stomach irritation). Grapes also have anthocyanins which reduce inflammation, too.

Cherries

Cherries contain chemicals called anthocyanins, which give berries their blue and red colors and fight inflammation in the same way aspirin does, according to research. Raspberries and strawberries are also anti-inflammatory foods.

Onions and garlic

Foods that reduce inflammation like this family of bulb vegetables are high in anti-inflammatory substances, as well as sulfur compounds, that help stimulate the immune system to keep everything running smoothly.

Green and black tea

Tea is rich in antioxidants or flavonoids, which may protect against cell damage that can worsen conditions such as arthritis. Research shows it also contains a chemical that fights inflammation, so consider swapping that morning cup of joe for a green tea instead.

Broccoli

This vegetable contains vitamins C and K, folate, fiber, and antioxidants. Broccoli, high in sulforaphane, fights inflammation by reducing your levels of cytokines, research shows. Other fruits and vegetables rich in sulforaphane include kale, cabbage, bok choy, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and more.

Fish

Oily fish such as salmon, trout, and anchovies, along with walnuts, linseeds, pumpkin seeds, olive oil, and canola oil contain omega-3 fatty acids that make them powerful anti-inflammatory foods. A University of Pittsburgh study found that people with back and neck pain who took omega-3 fatty acids in supplement form for three months had less pain overall. Eat fatty fish at least twice a week and consider taking a daily omega-3 fatty acid supplement to fight pain.

Soy protein

Researchers at Oklahoma State University found that people with osteoarthritis, especially men, who ate 40 grams of soy protein per day for three months had less pain and moved more easily than those who didn’t. Other research also shows that soy food consumption is related to lowering inflammation in women, too. It’s tough to eat that much pure soy protein a day unless you add soy protein powder to shake or smoothie, but it is still worth adding a serving of soya beans, tofu, or soy milk to your daily food intake.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms have a variety of compounds that help fight inflammation, specifically phenols and other anti-oxidants, research shows. A special mushroom type, lion’s mane, may also have some inflammation-fighting benefits, too.

Sauerkraut

Gut health has links with inflammation, so it’s important to consume fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt, and kimchi as part of an anti-inflammatory diet. The health benefits of fermented foods go well beyond inflammation, too. Research also shows they could help lower blood pressure, although more research is still necessary on the topic.

Avocados

Although the perfect ripeness window is small with this fruit, it’s worth gambling your money on this avocados since they contain many nutrients. Compounds like carotenoids and tocopherols in avocados, among others, protect against inflammation and could also reduce your risk of cancer, research shows.

Beans

Some anti-inflammatory diets claim beans aren’t good for fighting inflammation. However, research shows that they are high in magnesium which is a strong anti-inflammatory, according to U.S. News & World Report. According to the Arthritis Foundation, beans could lower an indicator of inflammation found in the blood. The best beans for fighting inflammation include small red beans, red kidney beans, and pinto beans.

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