Foods That Reduce Inflammation

Written by Brian Krans and Tricia Kinman | Published on March 10, 2015
Medically Reviewed by The Healthline Medical Team on March 10, 2015

Learn which foods help manage swelling and inflammation in the body and ease the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and joint pain.

8 Diet Tips to Treat Inflammation

There's truth to the adage "you are what you eat." It's especially relevant when managing inflammation and reducing swelling in your joints. While some foods can make things worse, there are plenty of tasty anti-inflammatory foods that can ease swollen joints, finger pain, and even symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Keep reading to find out what you can put on your plate to keep you moving.

1. Good Oils

If you haven't started cooking with olive oil yet, now's the time! It's incomparably rich in oleic acid, an omega-9 fatty acid that helps to minimize inflammation. Ditch the vegetable oil for healthier options like olive, grape seed, and avocado oils. Use extra virgin olive oil in cooking and on salads and get your food working faster for you. It's good for your heart and your brain, too.

2. Fish

Red meat has earned its bad reputation for a reason. It's higher in cholesterol and salt, which can trigger inflammation. To get your protein, switch to fish — like salmon, snapper, tuna, cod, halibut, and bass —that are high in omega-3 fatty acid, which also helps to reduce inflammation. If you're absolutely craving a steak, opt for grass-fed beef. It's higher in healthy omega acids.

3. Nuts and Fruits

Between meals, try nuts and fruits. Walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, and hazelnuts are all great choices. They’re high in omega-3 fatty acids as well.

You can also try replacing processed snack food with an array of fruits like apples, blueberries, cherries, pineapple, raspberries, and strawberries. According to the Arthritis Foundation, the antioxidants in fresh fruit and veggies help your body fight off free radicals that can cause cellular damage.

4. Garlic

Garlic. It tastes so good that we put up with the bad breath afterward. But our powerful little friend also packs a wallop in the healthy-foods department and works great for swollen joints according to the Arthritis Research and Therapy journal. Combine garlic with the herbs listed in the next section for some delicious upgrades to your cooking. And for date night, use some mint leaves to clean up your breath. They'll help your swelling, too.

5. Herbs

Herbs have been used for centuries to promote health and healing. Fresh herbs, like basil, thyme, and oregano are delicious choices to use in your cooking, and can be a source of antioxidants. Now, scientists at the University of Pittsburg Medical Center (UPMC) have been able to show that certain herbs like cumin and chili pepper have compounds that fight inflammation and reduce pain.

6. Chocolate

Thankfully, eating healthy doesn't mean missing out on the sweet stuff. Chocolate — yes, chocolate — that is at least 70 percent pure cocoa is the way to go. Other desserts low in fat and heavy in fruits and nuts mentioned earlier are also great ways to keep inflammation down.

7. Tea Time

Besides reducing your risk of heart disease and cancer, green tea works like liquid vegetables as it stages an anti-inflammatory fight inside your body, according to researchers at UPMC. Hot or cold, add some lemon juice to perk up the tea's flavor and kick up the antioxidants.

Simple Choices Make a Difference

When you make your shopping list, remind yourself that fresh is best because that's when nutrients are at their highest. And keep these healthier choices in mind when dining out too. Skip the carne asada burrito and go for sushi: fish, ginger, and garlic all in one spot

We all should eat healthy, but when our food can help treat swelling and inflammation it makes even more sense to eat healthy. Coupled with other treatments and therapies, a diet rich in omega acids and antioxidants could keep inflammation down so you can start living pain free.

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